Six Costly Mistakes That Sabotage Your Inside Sales Success

Despite your best efforts, does inside sales success elude you?

It’s not that unusual. Inside sales reps and managers often work extraordinarily hard for less-than-stellar results. It’s partly because business is changing, and busy decision makers are increasingly tough to reach.

But inside sales teams also make a lot of mistakes that cost them valuable time, opportunities and deals. Let’s take a look at six common stumbling blocks and how you can avoid them.

Common Sales Mistakes

Fileboard Inside Sales mistakes oops photo

1. Lack of Leads

Inside sales success starts with leads. Feel free to get that tattooed on your lower back. If reps don’t have a ton of high-quality leads to work, your sales pipeline will suffer.

Inside sales is a numbers game. It’s more science than art. The Sales Lead Management Association offers a free online tool that allows you to calculate how many leads you need to hit your sales quota.

Once you figure out how many leads you need, it’s time to start generating them. This is where some inside sales teams stumble. They don’t know how to generate quality leads in a cost-effective way.

Here are some proven methods you can use:

  • Inbound marketing: blogging, ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, social media, SEO, PPC

  • List providers: ZoomInfo, NexProspex, InsideView,, Salesgenie

  • Prospecting Services: Vorsight, Green Leads, LeadGenius

Depending on your industry and the size of your company, you may want to use a mix of these techniques to increase your odds of sales success.

2. Lack of Follow-up

Having lots of leads does not guarantee inside sales success. Studies have shown that up to 80 percent of sales leads are never followed up on. Even when reps do contact leads, they often wait too long to reach out and give up on those leads too soon.

Inbound marketing has gained widespread acceptance among marketers for its ability to produce high volumes of leads inexpensively, but sales teams still undervalue these leads.

Salespeople often make false assumptions about lead quality. The Sales Lead Management Association reports that 45 percent of people who submit inquiries will buy from somebody within 12 months. Wouldn’t you rather have them buy from you than from one of your competitors?

Establish guidelines for how your leads will be worked and enforce them. Decide how quickly you will respond to a new inquiry and how many times you will try to contact each lead before you give up.

3. Lack of Strong Management

Because the sales landscape has changed so dramatically in the last 10 years, many managers find themselves struggling to keep up with new technology, processes and compensation structures.

It’s not the managers’ fault; they’re doing the best they can to adapt. But they’re making a lot of costly mistakes along the way that stall sales success.

Here are a few of the most common blunders:

Are you using technology wisely? Executives are turning to CRMs and marketing automation software to make sense of the mountains of data now available. But managers often focus on the wrong metrics, which wastes time and slows down the sales cycle. Measure the things that you can manage, like dials per lead and time spent planning before a sales call, and work hard to improve those.

Are you using the right processes and systems? Some companies grow so fast that they have a hard time implementing and maintaining systems. This often leads to high employee turnover and customer churn rates. Don’t let short-term sales success lead to your ultimate demise.

Are you keeping your reps motivated? A poorly designed compensation plan can exacerbate turnover, lead to dissension among the ranks, and stop you from achieving escape velocity. Use accelerators to keep your top performers engaged and hungry.

4. Lack of Optimism and Enthusiasm

You need healthy doses of optimism and enthusiasm to succeed in inside sales. It takes determination to keep calling through lists of busy decision makers who are often protected by gatekeepers.

In Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, “21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling,” he shares a sales success secret that can help you overcome the fear of rejection. He says you must believe that your customers improve their lives when they buy your products or services. If you truly believe that you are making a difference and helping people, you will be less susceptible to burnout.

Some sales managers also use gamification tools to keep their reps engaged and motivated. These platforms show reps how they compare with their peers and have been proven to boost productivity.

5. Lack of Precision

One of the most common mistakes inside sales teams make is to take a spray-and-pray approach. They waste countless hours calling and emailing people who have no need for their products.

Define your ideal target. Identify prospects by industry, job title and job function. Look at the characteristics of companies who are most likely to buy from you. Do you need prospects who are already using the Salesforce CRM? If somebody is using Marketo, what does that tell you about how they run their business?

Here are some tools you can use to improve your sales success:

  • LinkedIn is a great place to gather sales intelligence and perform pre-call research.

  • SalesLoft can help you build prospecting lists by searching the social Web.

  • Refresh App delivers an instant dossier on your leads and prospects.

Target your prospects strategically and do your research before your sales calls. Slide analytics tools show you how your prospects react to your sales presentations, so you can spend more time with buyers and less time with browsers. This will increase your sales success.

6. Lack of Customer Service

Your customers expect you to consistently deliver on your promises. That’s an age-old business adage. But some inside sales reps fail to keep their appointments or to send follow-up materials on time.

The worst mistake of all is to tell a potential customer that your product does something that it doesn’t actually do. While this faux pas is relatively rare, it is far more common for a customer’s service to be affected by systems failures or implementation backlogs.

Inside sales teams must be adept at handling these sticky issues while balancing the interests of the business with the needs of paying customers.

What are your inside sales success secrets? Share them with us in the comments.