Inside Sales 101: How to Build a Revenue-Driving Sales Funnel Without Leaving Your Laptop

If you ask the average person to describe their mental image of someone who works in sales, they might tell you about a smooth-talking used car salesman.

Or someone going door-to-door with an overly-rehearsed pitch for whatever’s in their briefcase.

This is because most people think of ‘salespeople’ as field sales reps, often styled after outdated travelling salesman stereotypes.

But, for the majority of modern sales teams, these descriptions are wildly inaccurate. Especially since so many businesses rely on inside sales that are done 100% remotely.

Inside sales reps handle almost every aspect of selling via phone and email. Sometimes, they use other forms of communication, like social media, video calls, and text messaging – but only on a very rare occasion does an inside sales rep meet up with local clients in person.

Thanks to technology, there aren’t any geographical boundaries to who you can sell to. And with the power of cold email in your pocket, there’s really no limit to how many leads you can reach out to in a given timeframe.

These days, sales reps don’t need to go anywhere to move deals through your sales funnel. With a well-defined inside sales funnel, you can sell to anyone from anywhere – and build an empire right from your laptop.

The Benefits of Inside Sales vs. Field Sales

The Benefits of Inside Sales vs. Field Sales

Not every sale can be made through email and phone calls. For instance, many big-ticket sales or major projects still require in-person meetings, elaborate sales pitches, and several months of negotiations. So, it’s safe to say that field sales isn’t disappearing any time soon.

But, for many companies, inside sales is the real ticket to early and sustainable success. This sales model allows you to build a scalable sales operation without investing huge sums in a traveling sales team.

Compared to outside sales, inside sales is faster, more affordable, and preferred by a majority of your potential customers.

1. Inside Sales Reps Can Sell Faster

Field sales can be a slow-moving process. While outside sales reps might spend multiple days traveling to one single sales meeting, working to lock down one big-dollar deal, an inside sales rep can work dozens of deals per day.

The ability to balance multiple opportunities at once allows inside sales reps to close more deals in less time. This is one of the reasons that inside sales reps tend to be the first hires when businesses build a dedicated sales team.

2. Inside Sales is More Cost-Effective

Outside sales, by nature, is cost-heavy. It’s extremely expensive to send sales reps into the field, which means more resources are used up on individual opportunities.

A good inside sales process, on the other hand, is more efficient and cost-effective than your typical field sales process. In fact, according to PointClear, the average outside sales call costs around six times more than a single inside sales call.

3. Your Customers Prefer an Inside Sales Model

One of the reasons inside sales is exploding in popularity is that modern sales reps have technology that allows them to sell without face-to-face meetings. Good thing, too, because 75% of potential buyers don’t want an in-person sales meeting either.

As more people become comfortable with shopping remotely (how else do you explain the growing preference for online shopping?), it’s simply not necessary or preferable to meet up with the majority of your prospects.

Building a Killer Inside Sales Operation Step-by-Step

Companies that build successful inside sales operations optimize every stage of their sales funnel, from lead generation to signing the deal. Here’s a look at what you should focus on at each step of your inside sales process.

Stage 1: Building Your List

The first step of any inside sales process is generating leads. This involves putting together a list of contacts, including leads you’ve gathered manually as well as known and anonymous leads captured by your marketing automation system.

Start by researching each lead’s contact information, first and last name, and job description. At this stage, you should also leverage sales intelligence software, social media, and email verification tools to help you build a solid, accurate list with up-to-date contact information.

Stage 2: Initial Outreach

Building a Killer Inside Sales Operation Step-by-Step

Part of the beauty of inside sales is that you can conduct personalized outreach at scale. This is absolutely critical because the more leads your team talks to on a given day, the higher your odds of success.

There’s data to back this up. According to a study from The Bridge Group, there’s a proven correlation between how many conversations a sales reps has each day and their ability to make their quota.

So, once you’ve compiled your list, it’s time to make contact with each of your leads. Your initial cold call or email sets the tone for your entire customer relationship – and it’s your only chance to make a killer first impression. Remember to customize your outreach efforts and leverage any knowledge you have about the lead to build rapport.

If you’re running a cold email campaign through Propeller, you can segment your list by customer type, so you can send tailored messages to different target audiences. You can also strengthen your outreach efforts by scheduling follow-up reminders, tracking whether or not a lead has read your email, and uncovering insights to help optimize your next campaign.

Stage 3: Research & Qualification

At this stage, your main goal is to identify which leads are most likely to turn into real opportunities. You can refer to an established system, like the popular BANT framework, or develop your own lead-scoring model to help you spot qualified sales leads.

Either way, you want to make sure that you only invest in developing relationships with leads that actually have the potential to become paying customers.

One of the best ways to learn more about your leads is to ask clarifying questions. During a discovery call, for instance, you try to understand what the prospect is struggling with, what their goals are, and why their current solution is failing (if they have one).

Collecting as much data about the prospect as possible makes it easier to demonstrate how your offering fits their needs. From here, your inside sales reps can create custom sales pitches for qualified leads that have expressed interest in your product or service.

At every point of the qualification process, make a concerted effort to listen as much as you talk. Or, in the case of email correspondence, ask questions and request input, rather than assuming you know what the recipient wants.

Stage 4: Negotiating Terms

When a prospect is ready to buy, it’s up to the inside sales rep need to create a proposal and negotiate terms that both parties are happy with. This should include specifics like pricing, timeline, and other contractual elements that are required to make the sale official.

Furthermore, your proposal should highlight value in terms that matter most to the prospect. For instance, which specific pain points will your solution relieve? What features will the prospect get the most value from? What kind of results can they expect to see?

Step 5: Closing the Deal

This is it – the finish line is in sight! Hopefully by this stage you’ve tied up any loose ends, addressed any sales objections, and the deal is ready to close.

Even if negotiations have gone smoothly up until this point, keep in mind that the average sale requires five or more follow-ups to close – so don’t allow yourself to lose momentum when you’re this close to winning the deal.

When you send over the final sales agreement, do whatever you can to make it as easy as possible for your buyer sign off on it. Consider using a tool like HelloSign that makes it simple for both parties to reply, suggest edits, and, of course, sign the document.  

Inside Sales Can Power Your Growth

Done right, inside sales can take your business to the next level. By getting the basics down now, not only will your inside sales strategy fuel your growth today, but it will continue to play an important role as your business and sales goals scale and mature.

Using the right technology can help you get the most out of your inside sales process. For instance, Propeller CRM’s sales funnel management software gives you the insights you need to optimize your sales process, increase productivity, and generate more high-value leads.

Ready to see how Propeller CRM can help streamline your inside sales process and turn more leads into closed-won deals? Try it for free today!

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