Have you mustered up all of the selling fire power you have inside you? Because to master the inside selling world, your sales skills need to be top of the class.
But don’t worry if you haven’t mastered them yet. We are here to be your inside sales Sensei. So tighten your Gi and get into position, it’s time to punch your way to the top with these essential sales skills every inside seller needs to know.
1. Pre-Call Research
If you are calling a crazy-busy decision maker, your message better be relevant. The best way to ensure that is to do some quick pre-call research.
If you spend too much time researching, your call volume might drop below acceptable levels. However, if you don’t do any research, you won’t know anything about your prospects or their business needs—and that’s a recipe for high rejection rates and burnout.
Steve Richard, Chief Revenue Officer of ExecVision, has coined a term he calls “3×3 Research.” The idea is that you should spend three minutes gathering three specific pieces of information about your prospect before each call.
Here are some examples of useful pre-call research:
- Is anybody at your company already connected to your prospect on LinkedIn?
- Do you share a common LinkedIn group with your prospect?
- Has this company recently received a significant round of funding?
- Does your prospect generate online leads or use marketing automation software?
- Where did your prospect attend college?
LinkedIn allows inside sales reps to gain unprecedented insights on people and companies that lead to smarter sales conversations and higher conversions. Use LinkedIn, other social networks, and Google to find out a good amount of information before reaching out to your lead.
2. Ask Good Questions
Good sales questions accomplish two important things: they keep your prospect engaged in the conversation, and they give you valuable information you can use to better understand your prospects and advance the sale.
Here are three types of questions you can ask:
Questions that break the ice and build rapport.
“I see that you attended Dreamforce last year. We were there, too. Are you going again this year?”
Questions that get them thinking about the problem you can help them solve.
“Many of our clients are struggling with lead scoring right now. Most of the leads that marketing passes to sales never get contacted. How are you handling that?”
Questions that help them envision a better future after they adopt your solution.
“How many more deals do you think you could close each quarter if you could motivate your reps to give 20 percent more effort?”
In Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, the respected sales author urges you to craft better questions. He advises sales reps to stop focusing on prospects’ pain and start asking questions that make them smile instead. By making prospects smile by surprising or elating them, you build value. The ability to build up your value first is one of the most essential sales skills.
3. Presentation Sales Skills
Sales presentations have changed dramatically as a result of the new emphasis on inside sales. When you’re selling face-to-face, you can gauge your prospect’s interest by paying attention to body language, facial gestures, and other nonverbal cues.
A lot of those valuable clues disappear, though, when you’re talking with someone on the phone or sending them an electronic proposal for review. This means inside sales reps need to develop a whole new set of stills to make their presentations effective. Luckily, technology has evolved as sales have, so there are a lot of tools that help you accomplish these necessary tasks.
Inside sales reps must know how to assess their prospects’ digital body language.
- Are your prospects opening your presentations and proposals?
- Which slides do they spend the most time viewing?
- Is your collateral confusing or does it inspire your prospects to learn more?
Inside sales tools, like Fileboard, provide slide analytics, so you can see how your prospects react to your digital presentations. This is key to continuing to develop digital sales skills as an inside sales rep.
Some other useful presentation tips? Remember to keep your decks to 20 slides or less and keep your presentations to less than 30 minutes. Find more tips in Fileboard’s Guide to a Killer Sales Presentation.
Inside sales is a science. You can give yourself an edge by following proven best practices. There’s no magic potion. You just need the discipline to use the data in your favor.
Here are three metrics that are key to your success:
- Immediacy:Call leads back faster—within five minutes, if you can. That increases your likelihood of getting ahold of someone. When you do get them on the phone, don’t go straight into your sales pitch. Start by building up the relationship and presenting your value.
- Persistence:Don’t give up on your leads too soon. Most salespeople stop reaching out to leads after only two attempts, but studies show that it takes around five follow-up calls to close the deal.But this is also where a rep’s success usually goes wrong. It’s very hard to keep an overview of all the deals that you’re working on, and to know each day which deal to follow up on. Fortunately Fileboard can help with this. Our intelligent sales process tells reps what to do next based on actual customer engagement. As a result it makes every rep laser focused, a persistent seller and a top performer.
- Direct-Dial Numbers:Do you spend most of your time trying to sneak past gatekeepers? Or do you make a conscious effort to use direct-dial numbers? You can increase your contact rates by calling a higher percentage of direct lines.
It’s easier to follow these guidelines if you have the discipline to manage your time wisely. So, stay focused and don’t let distractions sabotage your success.
5. Social Selling
Social selling goes beyond pre-call research. It’s captured the schmoozing, sharing, and relating of the 1960s selling-era and moved it to social media.
Salespeople who use social sharing (which should basically be everyone) use their personal social networks to connect with prospects. This involves building up a salesperson’s personal brand online, connecting with prospects on social media, and communicating regulating through those platforms until the prospect is ready to buy.
Although this method of selling sounds common sense when you hear it out loud, many salespeople still fail to build up their personal brand online and connect with prospects digitally before inundating them with phone calls and fruit baskets.
The benefit, says one of social selling’s greatest evangelists Jill Rowley, is that your able to nurture a personal, trusting relationship with prospect in a non-confrontational way. If a prospect regularly chats with you online like they would with a friend, you better believe they’ll buy your goods when the need arises.
Rowley says a good place to start is by optimizing your liked in profile and social surrounding buyers. She recommends that you identify the industry influencers and curate relevant content that you can throw their way. According to Rowley, the new ABCs of selling are Always Be Connecting.
Just as in martial arts, sales skills like these must be practiced diligently and routinely. As you develop these skills, try not to focus on closing the sale, but the journey of perfecting each skill. The better you can get at each of these essential selling techniques, the easier sales will come and the faster you’ll rise up the ranks. And of course, it really helps if you follow a consistent sales process.