Industrial Sales

How to be an effective inside sales manager

A competent inside sales manager can positively affect the inside sales team’s performance and handle challenges using the right tools.

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Inside sales has been evolved to handle larger customers with more sophisticated demands in recent years. Therefore, the inside sales manager of a B2B sales organization is now responsible for incredibly sophisticated sales teams, with all of the management issues that entails.

Additionally, inside sales teams who formerly focused exclusively on easy duties (lead generation and securing renewals) are now responsible for more complicated activities, such as assessing customer needs, designing solutions, and closing more deals. This situation has led to an increase in the duties and responsibilities of the inside sales managers.

inbound sales method and flowchart

What is inside sales?

Inside sales definition is remotely identifying, nurturing, and converting leads to customers. It also can be considered as an inbound sales strategy. Inside sales has risen to prominence as a preferred sales approach in high-value industries in recent years, as customers have grown more confident purchasing and interacting remotely. In many respects, it is the evolution of technology that enabled this and equipped businesses with the capability to adopt inside sales.

What does it mean to be an inside sales manager?

An inside sales manager oversees a company's inside sales team. Their duties and responsibilities will include developing strategies for meeting sales targets, hiring and training new sales representatives.

Monitor
Coordinate
Manage
Train
Coach
Ensure

Inside sales vs outside sales

The difference between inside and outside sales is pretty substantial. Therefore, it’s essential to comprehend the critical distinctions between the two to create a sales team or recruit salespeople.

Inside versus outside sales is a topic and dilemma that almost every B2B organization faces at some point. This is a contradiction about philosophy as much as it is about strategy and tactics. Choosing the appropriate approach is a critical stage in every sales director’s professional life and has a significant impact on one’s company.

At its most fundamental level, the distinction between inside and outside sales refers to the location of the selling process: are you selling in person or remotely? Outside sales representatives meet and attempt to close their customers face-to-face. In contrast, inside sales professionals identify, nurture, and convert leads to paying B2B clients remotely.

Inside sales job description

Inside sales representatives sell items and services to B2B customers in an office or industrial facility. They will mostly deal with walk-in buyers or generate sales leads through emails, making cold calls, and prospect follow-up calls.

Responsibilities of an inside sales representative include:

  • Identifying new sales prospects by following up on inbound leads, and making cold calls and sending emails
  • Recognize consumer requirements, problems and demands
  • Routing all potential sales leads to sales associates for qualification and eventual closing

Duties of an inside sales manager

The inside Sales Manager keeps track of critical performance metrics while also handling all administrative aspects of the sales process. They often collaborate with diverse departments, thus it is critical that they possess strong communication skills and a willingness to work in a team atmosphere. Additionally, they should be capable of leading and motivating the inside sales team to accomplish certain goals.

How to become an effective inside sales manager?

Field sales managers that excel at harnessing the potential of their teams are true treasures. This is also true for inside sales, which has been the highest expanding segment for several years. Industry studies are indicating year-over-year growth of 20% for inside sales divisions in the B2B companies.

Inside sales divisions are getting increasingly sophisticated, frequently offering complex products and services that traditional field-based salespeople formerly sold. Inside sales teams are increasingly selling at the enterprise level, which was inconceivable only a decade ago.

Inside sales’ ascendancy

Naturally, the primary impetus of this move to inside sales has been rapid technological advancements. Inside sales teams are becoming more efficient due to powerful and easy-to-use online meeting platforms, new sales engagement tools, and improved automation systems.

Additionally, B2B customers have grown accustomed to making sophisticated purchasing decisions over the phone or digitally, without ever meeting the sales professional.

inbound team meeting

Five challenges faced by an inside sales manager

There are very distinct differences between managing an inside sales team and the challenges you face with an outside sales team. Inside sales can be a hostile environment, and the staffing requirements are numerous.

These things mean the inside sales manager will consistently face five major challenges. However, a great sales manager can immediately affect the sales team’s performance by having the tools to tackle these issues head-on.

1. Interviewing

Each position an inside sales manager needs to fill has to be staffed by individuals with certain qualities that will allow them to be successful. This can make having a successful interview that results in a hire difficult. Mainly because of two factors.

First, making cold call after cold call each day takes an exceptional personality. Second, it often is difficult to recognize who has all the ingredients that are required to succeed.

Some people simply look for the strong extrovert during the interview. Having that trait is helpful, but the sales manager will want more important qualities like drive, attitude, competitiveness, work ethic, and an ability to absorb information quickly.

An inside sales manager should pick the right people

A second problem the inside sales manager will face is how boring the job can be. Many applicants will act like they are excited during the interview. However, when it’s time to jump on the phones, their interest can drop severely. Therefore, it is essential to look for inside sales representatives who have a track record of staying at jobs or have staying power.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to solve this problem. So, examining the work history, prior experience, and lifestyle can provide solid clues to help decrease picking people that only last for a short time.

inside sales team meet with inbound marketing strategies

2. Coaching and training

Training is another area that an inside sales manager is highly proficient at with inside sales resources. Of course, sales skills training is a critical component to any sales position but even more challenging with inside sales.

Selling over the phone usually means calling into a hostile environment, talking to people who want to do anything but be sold over the phone.

An inside sales representative has very little time to grab someone’s interest and move them into the sales process. This means there need to be sales training programs in place that specifically train on the necessary skills associated with phone sales.

The inside sales team needs training and coaching

Since inside sales positions are junior level, the sales staff in these roles probably will not have a significant amount of the necessary experience. Therefore, they will more than likely need basic sales training than their field sales counterparts.

For an inside sales manager, a great way to deal with the high training demands is to use sales tools and recorded training modules. Sales staff can utilize these tools again and again as they need to while performing their job.

inside sales manager statistics

3. Productivity

Every B2B sales manager needs to be highly concerned with productivity. For an inside sales manager, one of your key metrics is phone activity that the salesperson accomplishes. As well as, other metrics like the number of dials or inbound calls, total talk time, average talk time, leads produced, and deals closed are excellent pieces of data to help determine productivity levels.

Friendly competition increases productivity

A great way to increase productivity is through friendly inter-office competition. As an inside sales manager, act as their leader. Share the metrics regularly with your people to build accountability and foster that competitive atmosphere. This will help to produce high levels of productivity and assist in hitting assigned target goals.

4. Effectiveness

Unfortunately, getting the reps to be consistent on the phones is only half the battle. An inside sales manager also needs to manage the effectiveness of the salespeople when they are talking to prospects. Of course, they can make 100 calls per day. But if their sales skills are not up to par, that effort (and that expense to the company) could be for nought.

Utilizing tools like role-playing, call monitoring, and sales coaching can help an inside sales manager ensure the reps understand the sales training concepts, are following the plan and embracing the strategy that has been developed.

5. Customer retention

Turnover will generally be high for the sales profession. It will probably be even higher for your inside sales organization. Selling over the phone and making cold calls is extremely challenging from a mental standpoint. As a result, many inside sales reps will find themselves frustrated and unhappy about their initial success at inside sales.

This cost of sales staff turnover is costly to the bottom line. However, an inside sales manager can decrease this by managing expectations upfront, leading with clear and defined goals, providing sufficient training, utilizing recurring coaching, and focusing on results-based recognition.

inside sales team meeting with the manager

Conclusion

Inside sales is a term that refers to the practice of selling remotely, using phone, email, and other online tools, rather than in person. It is widely used in the business-to-business (B2B) sector. Inside sales specialists make up roughly 40% of the 6 million professional salespeople in the United States.

Outside sales representatives spend the majority of their time travelling to visit clients, develop relationships with prospects, and maintain existing partnerships.

Because the tools used by internal and external salespeople are so similar (e.g., CRM, email, and social media), there is no longer a distinction between internal and external sales. In 2022, 65% of sales executives expect to implement a hybrid or entirely remote selling style. Internal and external sales representatives should be mixed in sales teams.

Each structure has advantages and disadvantages depending on the corporation’s objectives and ambitions. If a B2B company is a small business, they can prefer to outsource the inside sales crew in order to reduce their overhead costs. Employing an in-house sales team and inside sales manager, on the other hand, might be a wiser decision for larger organizations.