Posts Tagged ‘Inside Sales’

Should Your Inside Sales Team Be Listening to Music?

May 3, 2011

As the owner of a company that not only has their own inside sales team that is outsourced to clients but also works with companies on sales process and the overall professionalism and productivity of their sales teams, I am often asked the question: “Do you think it is OK for the team to have music on in the background while making sales calls?”

Well, have you ever noticed that when you go to a ballgame, they will play music during the downtime (when the batter is walking to the plate in a baseball game, while the referees are looking at the replay in football, etc.) but when it is time for the game to resume—for the professionals to work—the music stops. In an inside sales environment, we feel that rule should apply to the inside sales team as well.

The inside sales team needs to think about how they are going to help their client when they are off the phone and be able to listen to the prospects (not the sports scores or the new #1 song) when they are on the phone. My feeling is: Treat a professional as a professional and you have a better chance of getting professional results.

I discussed this with a sales manager not too long ago and his response was “Whatever works to increase sales is worth a try.” This reminds me a lot of something an old boss used to say: “When you are deciding if what you are doing is right or wrong, picture it as the front page story in the newspaper that day.” I learned very quickly that different people read different newspapers. Some read the Chicago Tribune and think twice about what they are doing, knowing their friends and family will see it and judge. Some read the Wall Street Journal, and everything they do is all business all the time. Others (hopefully very few) read the National Enquirer and will simply do anything at any time, even if it includes, lying, cheating and stealing.

Not everything that increases sales is what should be done for long term success.

Something about music in an inside sales environment just seems unprofessional. From years of helping clients investigate how they could improve their sales process through our Growth Audit and Autopsy Services, I’ve noticed that having to listen to someone listen to music while trying to have a professional call is a pet peeve for many business people, and does not help convey a professional image. No, instead it leads to unhappy clients, wondering why the inside sales representative they are speaking to is not taking a more professional approach. It made me wonder, if there were more inside sales teams working in professional environments rather than “boiler rooms,” wouldn’t the perception of hiring an inside sales team be better too? And wouldn’t that lead to even more clients for all of us?

Thinking of Buying Some Contacts from a Sales List Service? If So, You Better Have a Trained Professional to Scrub Them!

March 14, 2011

Two of the questions we are most often asked when it comes to our Outsourced Sales Service are questions about list services such as Jigsaw, Sales Genie, etc. and the specificity of the information they provide (e.g. contact information, demographics, currency of data etc.) and whether a company such as ours who “scrubs” these lists and finds opportunities for clients will work “success based.”

I figured that it might be helpful to provide you with my responses to these questions.

While we have not worked with every list service specifically, it has been my experience that all services like that are different levels of bad. I mean no disrespect. It is just that no matter how often they check their data, things change quickly. Most of these places will tell you that they update their information every 6 months, but you will still find the contact who died 5 years ago or the guy who left the company 2 weeks after they confirmed their information.

I find this interesting because at least once a week, we get a call at Randolph Sterling Inc., for Mr. Randolph Sterling. Some of the people who have called apparently have befriended Mr. Sterling to the point where he told them it was OK to call him Randy. This is interesting because while I am sure there is a Mr. Randolph Sterling somewhere in the world, he has never worked for my company. I may one day write a blog post about where the name came from, but I can assure you that because I am the founder and CEO of Randolph Sterling, Inc., that the CEO and founder of Randolph Sterling, Inc. is not Mr. Randolph Sterling.

Regardless, at least one list service has it listed that way.

As for the second part of the question, yes, there are companies out there who will take this information and help you to develop relationships and will work “success based.” However, their definitions of success may vary, as may yours.

Our current clients define success several ways. Here are just a few:

  • Finding opportunities with the right prospect.
  • Continuing to follow up with that right prospect for sometimes up to 2+ years or the 7-13 “touches” it takes for them to trust someone they don’t know enough to just have them quote on an opportunity.
  • Continuing relationships with clients by providing customer satisfaction calls and forwarding to their sales team the information that enables them to step in and save problem accounts or provide a new service.
  • Determining if a company that looks like a good fit on paper is actually a good fit. We have several clients who ask us to rate our impression of how difficult a prospect may be to work with because they have limited resources and want to make sure they are working with people who not only value what they do, but will pay for it.
  • Finding the correct decision maker and starting a relationship with them after it was determined that the contact name on the list that was bought was incorrect.

That said, we at Randolph Sterling, Inc. are not just appointment setters or a telemarketing firm whose main goal is to get you in front of someone. Our goal is to understand your business and what makes you great, then do our best to match you up with the right prospects. If you bring us on, we will be an extension of your sales team, working as your inside sales department.

It would be difficult for us to open our doors and keep them open if I didn’t think our team was the best in the world at what we do, and if we didn’t continue to hire and train the best and continue to grow in providing more services at a higher quality for our clients. We don’t hire entry level people or people who work on contingency. We hire experienced professionals and treat both them and our clients as such.

Should You Downsize Your Sales Force and Implement a More Automated and Online Marketing System Instead?

November 22, 2010

This is a question that came up in an online Vistage discussion group recently, and those who know me, or regularly read my blog or newsletter already know my answer: NO! An online or automated marketing system will never replace a strong sales force!!!

We’ve spent months and months in our Vistage groups talking about attracting more clients through online marketing systems and at the end of the day what was determined was what we already knew…some companies are sales focused while others are marketing focused, but the most successful companies integrated an approach using both.

Sales is about finding customers while marketing is about bringing customers to you. By having them work together, say by reviewing the report on who reads your e-newsletter and then calling the readers to discuss topics of interest in more detail, or offering a downloadable white paper on a topic of interest then following up with those who downloaded it, will increase the ROI of your marketing programs and reduce the sales cycle (for more details on this topic, click here).

Now, some might disagree with me on this and claim that their sales force isn’t working for them. In those cases I would say the problem is not a matter of having a sales force, but not having the right sales force. For example, if all your salespeople are doing is providing you with information that can be found on Google, fire your salespeople and get better ones (OK, maybe I am being a bit harsh with that.) Good salespeople develop relationships and find the right people for you to work with. If people only bought based on the “facts” they find on Google, anyone who wanted four wheels, an engine, good gas mileage, and a way to get to work would be best served buying a Yugo. When the salesperson digs deeper to find the true pain and how his solution can solve it…well just count how many BMWs and Hummers you pass on the way home tonight.

For companies who have a sales force that spends most of their time working with current clients, or don’t have a sales force at all and the people who do the work also sell it, a better idea would be lead generation. It allows the experts to be the expert. At Randolph Sterling, we have an inside sales force that we outsource to help develop new markets and new prospects. With it, we do not simply find AN opportunity for ourselves or our clients, but THE RIGHT opportunities. Good inside sales teams get a better feel for who your ideal prospects are and work to find you more of the people you want to do business with. You never want to incent them to find ANY opportunity because wasting your time on a bad opportunity can be more detrimental than not having an opportunity at all