10 Inside Sales Predictions for 2011

The Bridge Group’s ten predictions for inside sales in 2011. Trish Bertuzzi and Laurie Page start the new year off with some surprising predictions.

Roles will continue to segment. No longer will the Inside Sales Rep be a “jack of all trades”. Roles will be clearly defined and measured based on specific desired outcomes. Hunters will go after new business while farmers will cultivate the customer base. Some reps will focus on converting inbound inquiries to opportunities while others will be proactive and target specific accounts.

Data will become an integral component for predicting the likelihood of Inside Sales success. No longer will companies buy data from one vendor but rather they will create a network of data providers to deliver to them the specific information in their target markets. Inside Sales reps will rely on and be trained on how to use that data to have meaningful conversations with their buyers.

Metrics will evolve beyond just baseline activity metrics (phone, emails) to include metrics that track movement through the qualification and sales process. Rather than just “how many calls did you make?” management will also ask “and of those, how many conversations did you have with prospects that fit our Ideal Customer Profile?” Management will track demo conversion and forecasting accuracy at the group and rep levels. What will change is that only those metrics that are used to make business decisions will be tracked. All others will fall by the wayside.

Marketing measurement will become revenue focused as opposed to activity focused. It will be less important to track what comes in at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and much more important to track what makes it to the middle of the funnel (MOFU). It won’t be as much about number of leads as it will be about number of forecast opportunities.

Effective on boarding will finally be recognized as a critical success factor. The days of “let’s hire a bunch of college kids and let them go at a list” are gone. Companies realize that you need to have an effective process with supporting tools in place and you need to train your reps on that process for them to be effective.

Lead scoring and lead nurturing will move from art to science. Scoring and nurturing used to be “nice to haves” and they are now “must haves”. Reps need to be able to prioritize their workloads and lead scoring helps them separate activity from real opportunity. Also, lead nurturing allows the prospect to self educate without the need for a constant human touch.

People will stop focusing on bright shiny toy technologies and implement those that move the process forward. There are many vendors competing in the Inside Sales arena for the same technology dollars. Many are toys but some are real tools that increase productivity and yield. The market will continue to understand the difference and make their buying decisions accordingly.

Messaging will continue to evolve from sales centric to buyer centric. It is increasingly less important for Inside Sales Reps to understand every nuance of their product and market and increasingly more important for them to understand a day in the life of their buyers. That understanding will allow them to develop messaging that resonates.

Great content will continue to evolve as the tool of choice for ISRs. Ask an ISR what they want and they will tell you they want meaningful tools that will allow buyers to better understand their company’s unique value proposition. They want content that is interesting, available in a variety of mediums and moves the qualification and sales process forward.

ISRs will begin to understand the value of personal branding and how it can impact their sales efforts. Social media has leveled the playing field. No longer are the only thought leaders to be found at the top of the organization, they can be found throughout. Blogs, twitter, Facebook and Linkedin have created an environment where individual sales reps can know showcase their knowledge and value as a partner to their buyers.

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