How to Ease the Transition From Field Sales to Inside Sales

Kristi Hines
Kristi Hines



goldfish-jumping-1With the growth of inbound marketing, marketing automation, and online lead generation, inside sales is now just known as sales. Of course, there are many businesses that are still in the process of transitioning from a field (outside) sales model to the inside sales model. While this transition is underway because of a clear business need, sales leaders will certainly face a new set of challenges, too. Here are just a few to consider if your business is considering the shift to inside sales.

Determine if the Inside Sales Module Fits Your Market

First and foremost, businesses have to consider whether their entire sales model can be shifted from field to inside sales, or if they will need both in order to thrive. Mike Moorman, a senior leader in ZS Associates’ B2B sales, finds that companies divide sales models by market segment, stages of the customer engagement process, products/services, and geography.

Mike breaks it down in these terms. Field sales is still the best model for large accounts with complex needs and buying processes, tasks that benefit from a "high touch" approach, complex products/services that require consultation and customization, and accounts in metropolitan areas. Inside sales, on the other hand, is the best model for small- to medium-sized businesses with straightforward needs and low potential, supplementing field sales during the lead generation and repeat purchases stages, transactional offerings with low risk buyers, and accounts in remote areas.

Accept a Hybrid Sales Model

Transitioning to a new sales model will likely not happen overnight, no matter how excited the CEO is about the latest technologies, strategies, and statistics. Anneke Seley, founder of Oracle's global inside sales organization OracleDirect, has seen " ... the walls coming down between inside and field. We have the emergence of the hybrid model where inside reps might do most of their work on the phone, but we don’t chain them to their desks. They’re allowed to go visit customers if it’s important to the deal and the margin supports that."

Accepting a hybrid sales model is a great way to move your high performing field sales rep into the new model. It gives them the option to work as they are used to while learning the inside sales model. It also gives new sales reps who are accustomed to inside sales the opportunity to learn from the experience that your current sales reps have.

Manage Remote Sales Reps Right

Because the technology for inside sales allows for sales representatives to be able to connect with and nurture leads anywhere there is an internet connection, a business's sales reps can be spread out globally. While they benefit from being able to choose from the best salespeople from around the world, Josiane Feigon, President of TeleSmart Communications, notes that a challenge sales managers face is losing the ability to coach, mentor, and establish trust within sales teams that can no longer physically meet in a conference room on a weekly basis.

She believes that instead of focusing on creating dashboards and rescuing dead deals, sales managers must instead focus on motivating, encouraging, and developing sales reps. They also must learn about the new kind of customer they face -- the customers that self-educate and have a new set of standards.

Perceive Inside Sales Reps as Valuable

How sales leaders within a business perceive field sales reps versus inside sales reps can be a factor in the success (or failure) in transitioning to the inside sales model. The Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of 100 vice presidents of sales about the evolution of sales. The results found that although twice as many participants in the study moved to inside sales, "Most sales leaders believe that outside salespeople have superior sales skills and the most accomplished sales professionals are in the field..."

This means that if your business wants to be successful in moving from field to inside sales, you must ensure that the sales leaders in your business understand the overall benefits of this model and the qualities that make inside sales teams an asset. lists twenty qualities of inside sales reps, including their ability to understand and use proven tools, determine how to penetrate their market, and provide solid forecasting numbers.

By determining where inside sales is most effective, accepting a hybrid sales model, managing your inside sales reps right, and recognizing that they are just as valuable as field sales reps, your business will be on its way to a successful transition to inside sales.

Topics: Sales Jobs

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