An inside sales team is a “team” in name only – unless you have assigned inside sales team roles.
As often as not, managers form a team according to organizational hierarchies. There is a manager, one or more sales leads, and the rest of the inside sales reps. This does illustrate the chain and scope of command. But, it does not identify the inside sales team roles that will increase productivity.
Now, much depends on the product line and the marketing strategy. For example, the sales department may include field sales reps as well, and strategies may spread across geographic territories. But, let’s try to keep it simple.
The small business sales process and inside sales team roles
For the sake of discussion, this studies a company that sells B2B. Marketing thrusts – direct mail, social media, trade shows, networking, online and print advertising, and assorted other channels – generate leads. The business builds its markets from these leads and by establishing long-term relationships in quality products, sales support, and customer care. And, you might typically picture this as a funnel.
In the smallest operations, a single inside sales rep would be responsible for the funnel from top to bottom, but the functions of the different levels are rarely differentiated. It is a good place to start. Without differentiation, there are no clear metrics or approach to performance analysis.
- Leads prompt a gathering function. A sales lead is a person or organization that has shown a direct or indirect interest in purchasing your product and has provided its contact information in one form or another. As collected, the leads are not sales prospects because they have not been qualified.
- Opportunities arise once the leads are qualified as prospects. Qualification is a process that determines if the lead matches certain marketing criteria. They need to fit the target market, possess the authority and financial power to purchase, and make primary decisions on buying. Qualification determines what approach to take to turn the lead into an opportunity.
- Conversions occur when the prospect takes a specific course of action. The sales rep’s job is to identify and confirm the interests and needs of the prospect and, then, help the prospect to articulate those needs in a way that the sales rep can match with product solutions.
- Customers are those who purchase the product being sold. The customer may or may not be the end-user or consumer, but they customer completed the purchase. The customer’s decision to buy does not end a process; instead, the customer becomes a potential lead for future needs.
So, this is how a business sells widgets, office supplies, doorknobs, photocopiers, and more. However, the simplicity is deceptive. It is rarely a straight and easy flow through the funnel. The lead sorting function is time-intensive and focused. The qualification role takes some practice and experience. Conversions take patience and intelligence. And, customers expect specific and extended support as you do need inside sales team roles.
Now, this is not the structure or flow for larger businesses. When the size of the lead and the scope of the deal are big, you need a structure that nurtures and develops a continuing relationship. The best self-sustaining relationships are strengthened by teamwork and collaboration. Such strategy redefines and reorganizes individual and inside sales team roles, an analysis worth developing in our next article.
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