1.You say that inside sales is going to overtake field sales by 2015. How can that be? And how does that affect how companies sell? Today’s inside sales organizations are growing rapidly – for every 15 inside salespeople being hired, only one field person is being hired. The traditional sales organization structure is changing to meet the needs of today’s elusive and busy customer who is mobile, connected, independent, and wants everything NOW. Inside sales can build more – and often better – relationships virtually in much less time than it used to take face-to-face.
2. Many of today’s inside sales managers were promoted out of the cubicle into management. How is managing in today’s digital world different than when they were selling? Most of today’s managers were once individual contributors. Many of them manage with the old, brutal sales blueprint of success: aggressively chasing down customers and holding them in a headlock while they present and coerce them into buying. They keep doing it today, even though it no longer works, on the theory that it has to work sometime! But managing a high-performing inside sales team in the dynamics Sales 2.0 ecosystem is completely different. This new world is digital, diverse, and connected. Customers do their own research, and talent expects works to be F-U-N.
3. You write in your book about the Sales 2.0 Ecosystem. What’s this all about, in a nutshell? The Sales 2.0 Ecosystem is virtual, social, and digital, and shapes the way we do business today. It’s made up of four vital components: (1) Customer 2.0, the elusive and independent buyer; (2) Talent 2.0, the multi-tasking and technically wired Millennial Talent who are flooding the workforce; (3) Tools 2.0, the social-mobile-video Sales 2.0 tools; and (4) Prospecting 2.0, where the new sales superheroes nurture customers with visual bling and real information.
4. You say that customers are starved for virtual intimacy. Why is that, and how does it affect inside sales? Today’s customers are busy. They’re also independent, tech savvy, and very influenced by their social peers –and they’d rather shop their own channels. They seem elusive, and they can start or stop the buying cycle anytime. But they are hungry for a trusting human connection, a virtual relationship they can collaborate with. They just want an intelligent, knowledgeable, and receptive virtual salesperson to respond to their request –but probably on their schedule, not yours.
5. You describe today’s new sales super hero. How are these born and how can we get one? The key to finding superheroes is to learning how to recognize them. They are part social, part virtual, and part authentic human being. Their sales buzz is viral, vast, technically potent, and sprinkled with marketing wisdom. Culturally, they are different from previous sales generations. They are all about engagement, collaboration, education, and application. In my book, I outline the 25 desirable qualities of a superhero. Once managers become aware of these possibilities, they can look for them when hiring.
6. Some people think cold calling is dead. But in your book, you introduce the concept of potent prospecting. Can you explain what that is? New tools have eliminated the cold call and redefined prospecting: The days of robo-dialing and making cold calls without any information are gone – there’s no excuse for it. Potent prospecting works more holistically. It brings together the rest of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem – the customer, the talent, and the tools – and a working alignment with marketing. Prospecting efforts are strategic and sophisticated: they’re all about the best practices of engagement, collaboration, education, application, and social activity.
7. What are two takeaways from the book for finding and hiring new sales talent? Every inside sales organization is unique. That’s because they each have different go-to-marketing strategies based on their individual provide/service, price points, sales cycle, direct/indirect purchase channels, target audience, sales locations, and talents. These are living, breathing micro businesses that are constantly in flux. But they all have one thing in common: the never-ending quest for good talent. Managers must develop an “always-be-recruiting” strategy that includes a referral network, and strong screening and interviewing techniques that help qualify and identify inside sales superheroes. Managers must also structure their inside sales organizations with the right roles and match them with people who fit those job functions. This is the first step in defining a “multicareer” ecosystem that attracts ambitious talent on a career trajectory.
8. You talk in the book about managing with fun. Can you give me some examples? If managers want to ensure the longevity and loyalty of their inside sales teams, it’s not enough to simply hire, coach, train, and set metrics for them. Today’s managers must be the new ambassadors of F-U-N and flex their motivational muscles with their teams. That means designing regular motivational programs that increase the productivity of their organization and create healthy team competition, and reinforcing it with public displays of motivation that consistently energize their teams. This may start as early as on-boarding new hires. For example, instead of sending them through a two-week new hire boot camp, you can design a scavenger hunt so they learn the company values and lingo. Designate “play areas” around the sales floor equipped with Foosball, Ping-Pong, and darts.