Sales methodologies have changed. And "inside sales" is trending faster than fidget spinners and the latest meme.
Especially in the technology sector -- and even more acutely in sales of SaaS services -- the time-honored approach to prospecting, qualifying, and closing sales revenues is morphing radically in response to new workforce demographics, new sales technologies, and new customer expectations.
What does the inside sales trend mean for CEOs and CROs? Here's how your sales organization should respond to the top four changes.
1) Sales cycles are accelerating
While large enterprise deals in the past might have required six to 12 months to close, a well-oiled inside sales team might do the same in one to three months.
The inside sales model can increase the velocity of your sales process. It’s not about getting 10 meetings per week anymore -- it’s about giving prospects the tools and information to qualify themselves on your website, then answering whatever questions remain so that they feel comfortable moving forward with a free trial or paid pilot.
This also improves the handoff from marketing to sales. According to a 2015 report by The Bridge Group, Inc., at least 44% of the inside sales pipeline typically comes from marketing. Marketing automation tools generate higher-quality leads by analyzing and fine-tuning a larger volume of prospects at the top of the funnel.
Inside sales allows you to rapidly iterate your sales approach and double down on the channels and techniques that show early success. Start by creating buyer personas of your ideal customer and then gather whatever data you can to analyze the buyer journey and decision psychology. Using a more data-driven approach, instead of relying on the intuition of your best sales reps, can increase sales volume and lower your sales costs.
2) Workplaces are now global
Companies operate in a global context, and prospects aren’t limited by vendor location.
Thanks to connected technology, people can be sitting in different parts of the world yet still collaborate effectively. Although this makes buying processes more competitive, it's also an advantage. You can now hire salespeople anywhere in the world, no matter where your business is based. This helps you both adapt your inside sales processes to local cultures and call on prospects in their time zones.
3) SaaS and Services are proliferating
Mega-dollar enterprise software deployments are becoming less and less common, replaced by SaaS services and monthly subscriptions. Front-loaded field sales processes are too expensive and risky for these types of deals.
Subscriptions services can be found everywhere now, from your dinner meal delivered at home to your e-mail host at work. The proliferation of SaaS technologies has matured beyond hosting and storage and security, and is now driving the rise of inside sales as the SaaS mentality and technology is finding its way into marketing and sales processes.
Along with inside sales processes, sales compensation models for SaaS products should be calculated based on lifetime value of the deal (expressed as MRR or ARR or TCV) versus price.
This influx of SaaS technologies and on-demand services is driving the trend to measure and optimize everything, including sales processes.
4) Workforce demographics are changing
Your target buyer is likely a millennial who is not interested in having lunch and is more likely to respond to inside sales’ self-help product materials and marketing’s digital funnel campaigns.
A sea change is happening in the demographic of tech buyers and tech salespersons. Millennials already dominate the workforce in many technology companies, and Generation Z is right behind them. These new workers have already influenced everything from HR policies to office food choices, and they are a major force behind the inside sales trend as well.
By using modern inside sales methodologies, companies can capitalize on these trends and lower their overall cost of sales.