Inside sales teams in distribution are typically reactive, doing very little outbound calling or lead generation. Many inside sales teams are responsible for presale
activities such as quoting and order entry, as well as
after-sale activities such as returns and invoice questions,
as well as technical support.
In our research and work with distribution companies,
we’ve found that most distributors don’t view their
inside sales as a proactive force where reps make
outbound calls into accounts to generate more business
or employ active selling techniques to cross-sell and
upsell on inbound calls.
Creating a proactive inside sales team can drive several
benefits for a distributor, including better sales coverage,
growth in wallet share from underserved customers,
and an increase in higher-margin sales from smaller and
medium-sized accounts. A proactive inside sales team can
also free up field sales reps to focus on large accounts.
Despite these benefits, it can be challenging to
successfully implement a proactive inside sales strategy.
Here are six common reasons inside sales fail:
1. Management Isn’t Committed to a
Proactive Inside Sales Approach
When top management isn’t committed to a proactive
approach to inside sales, inside sales reps frequently get
pulled off to do other work, which dilutes their impact. Or
inside sales management is tasked with other priorities, so
the inside sales reps don’t get the support they need, and
are viewed as doing “less important” work. We’ve also
seen an inside sales program succeed only to falter when
a key (or the only) inside sales rep leaves. If they are not
replaced, the role seems to get lost in the shuffle.
2. Inside Sales Reps Only Do Proactive
Outbound Calling on a Part-Time Basis
Research we’ve done has revealed that a typical
distributor’s inside sales team is often challenged to
balance proactive and reactive sales activities. Typically,
inside sales reps default to inbound sales because it’s
easier. But inside sales reps must be focused on
outbound sales 100 percent of the time to reap the
benefits of a proactive approach.
6 Reasons Distributor Inside Sales Fails
[GUEST COLUMN] Debbie Paul