October 10 by Ken Krogue
How Did We Get Here?
My background includes a long history of sales and marketing, including the creation of the original inside sales team at FranklinCovey. I have spent many days on the road answering sales calls and speaking with prospects and clients. As you may know, inside sales is still a relatively new sales model compared to traditional, time-tested outside sales. Inside sales came about when a new technology, web conferencing, began to be used in tandem with the telephone. The ability to project your desktop remotely to anyone in the world allowed sales professionals much greater levels of involvement in the sales process. Another driving force was the stock market crash of 2008. After the downturn many companies could no longer afford to send their sales representatives on site to a prospect’s office. This forced frugality, further popularizing the less-expensive inside sales model and prompted unprecedented growth of inside sales teams. One study indicated a 15x growth rate! In fact, until 2010 there were more inside sales representatives than outside sales representatives.
Today, we are seeing the rise of a new hybrid sales model utilizing inside and outside sales teams. In the past, face-to-face meetings would happen about 4.5 times throughout the average deal cycle. In today’s era of unprecedented accessibility of information, buyers progress much further in the sales cycle before engaging with a sales representative. On average, most deals have only 1-2 face-to-face interactions. All other points of contact have been converted to remote presentations by inside sales professionals using conference calls. This transition has been difficult as most sales professionals have been raised on the traditional outside sales model. They are now having to learn and adjust.
Understanding Your Sales Model
When I sit down with one of our hundreds of clients to see how InsideSales.com can help meet their goals, typically the first thing they ask is, “what is the inside sales model?” I tell them there are two basic approaches to inside sales. Let me explain:
The High Velocity Model: This model accelerates your path to revenue by driving high deal velocity. This means making more sales calls, faster. It’s something we helped invent here at InsideSales.com.
Account-Based Sales: This model reflects a shift away from leads, and towards target accounts with either a high propensity to buy or significant strategic importance. Account-based sales tends to be most successful at the enterprise level; however, it can work in a SMB or mid-size market as well.
Before you launch your transformation, make sure to understand which strategy best fits your goals, then work within that structure.
Establishing the 5 Key Elements in Your Transformation Project
Regardless of which model you prefer, both require effective change management. Here are the 5 key elements to driving sales transformation.
1. Executive Sponsorship
This is the most critical part of any transformation. If an executive sponsor hasn’t bought in on your transformation, you run the risk of not being able to effectively implement the new strategy. A recent study by Prosci found that 58% of executive sponsors didn’t know their role during a business transformation. It’s critical to create a project roadmap for your executive team to keep them active and in the loop. Start with building a leadership coalition by asking, “Who are the people that should be invested in this project and present every time a key decision has to be made?” The next step is to communicate and promote the process, results, and even roadblocks. Drive participation and visibility with your executive sponsor as the transformation progresses. The executive leader needs to remain an active participant throughout the process. If authority is delegated, the team’s connections weaken and power to make things happen decreases—drastically reducing its chances for success.
This is a fancy name for project management and operational follow-through. As mentioned before, a big indicator of success is your team’s ability to get buy-in from executive stakeholders and keep them involved. It’s helpful to build a “steering committee,” which brings together all of the project’s leaders, facilitating regular meetings to ensure the project is meeting all of its key milestones and to verify that everyone is still on the same page. This committee should meet at least once a month. Then, you will need to form an “operations team” that meets once a week and focuses on the project management side of the house, ensuring tasks are being completed and hand-offs are happening regularly. This team helps to assess resources and lobby the steering committee when support is needed. Truth, not harmony, should drive these meetings. Encourage an environment where all opinions are equal and everyone has a stake in the project.
3. Full Engagement
How do we get engagement from the front lines? At the heart of this question is culture. Build an environment that excites and enables the team. The goal is to have a team that wants to participate in and contribute to the completion of the project, not one that feels mandated to work on it. Culture is shaped by 4 key elements: love, duty, fear, and hate. Each element has its own side effects, so work carefully to cultivate a culture that motivates your team and provides strong accountability.
A study by Prosci titled Best Practices in Change Management found that 18.5%, or almost 1 in 5 workers, admit that they struggle with project metrics. Before you can measure the success of a project, you need a snapshot of your current state. Think of the weight loss challenges you’ve seen in infomercials, with striking before and after photos. In order to “wow” with the outcome, you need to establish a baseline.
I highly recommend gathering with a small group and mapping out your process in a method as simple and straightforward as possible. It should fit on a single sheet of paper—be sure to keep things simple at first. You can always add in details and iron out wrinkles later. Far too often, teams will complicate things right out of the gate and take on too much at once. In fact, in our recent study, Top Challenges for Sales Leaders, we found that 70% of companies had not mapped out a dynamic process. As with metrics, start by mapping out your process as it is now and then map your ideal future process so you give yourself room to scale and evolve over time.
So there they are—the 5 building blocks to a successful sales transformation. Following them well is the difference between sales organizations that succeed and those that fall short.
About Ken Krogue
This is a guest blog post courtesy of Ken Krogue, President and Founder of InsideSales.com. Ken brings nearly three decades of knowledge and experience in sales, development, and international marketing. He shares many of his insights on inside sales, lead generation, gamification, and social selling at industry events, on his top-ranked blog, and in his contributions to Forbes.com.
InsideSales.com helps the world’s top companies sell more by building better pipeline and closing more of the right deals. The company provides a SaaS-based sales application that uses artificial intelligence to score and prioritize accounts, allows teams to accurately assess pipeline, and helps leadership focus on the deals that matter most.