Are today's inside sales reps in the know? Simply put, no.
According to AA-ISP's 2014 Inside Sales Top Challenges report, sales leaders ranked training as the number one issue facing inside sales forces today. And the reps surveyed agreed -- training was identified as the second most pressing challenge at the individual contributor level, after quantity/quality of leads.
"Training continues to present both a challenge and opportunity for leaders and reps alike," the report states. "The skills, competencies, and sales experience required for inside sales roles has outpaced our ability to develop individuals quickly enough."
To Bob Perkins, founder of AA-ISP, the problem has two causes. "Inside sales is growing so fast, and there are so many jobs that need to be filled that hiring managers are forced to hire less experienced people," he said. This means that inside sales managers not only have to train their new reps on the company's specific sales model, but also sales and business basics.
In addition, the role of an inside sales rep has broadened significantly as a result of shifting sales models. Historically, field and inside sales reps worked together on the same deals, albeit performing different tasks. This configuration is known as a team selling model.
But as Perkins pointed out, the discrete model -- where inside sales reps work separately from field reps and are responsible for their own quotas -- is gaining in popularity. And this means all the tasks that have traditionally been associated with field reps are now expanding into the realm of inside sales.
"Relationship development, proposing, presenting, negotiating, and closing -- those skills now are being required by inside sales," Perkins said.
Wanted: Tailored Inside Sales Training
How are inside sales leaders solving the training problem? By giving reps an extra helping of it.
"Comments indicate leaders are simply trying to do more training, both with external vendors and internally," the report states. In addition, some companies are hiring dedicated inside sales trainers.
However, "very little feedback was provided on innovative ideas. This could indicate an opportunity for current training providers to focus content on inside selling specific competency and skill requirements."
With this in mind, Perkins issued a rally cry to sales training companies.
"Training firms need to change with the times," he said. " There are a lot of good firms, but they don’t deal with the nuances and requirements of today's inside sales rep. They don't talk about social media, how to do a great remote presentation, pre-call research, or prospecting at the top of funnel."
How are you doing inside sales training at your company?