If your organization is like most, you don’t have a recognized strategy for inside sales reps (ISRs). But you do have a strategy, whether you recognize it or not.
The unspoken fallback strategy is really no strategy at all: your ISRs process paperwork, work the ongoing to-do list, and befriend customers. This approach gets the job done but fails to create strong customer engagement.
I work with dealers representing hundreds of locations throughout the country, and I hear the same refrain: “Our ISRs are vital as the first point of contact and are essential to our sales success.” So what are you doing to create a strategy that prepares your staff with the right tactics to fulfill your beliefs?
Here are some suggestions.
Change the strategy: Write down one or two sentences that describe your strategy, and meet with your ISRs to discuss it. For example, “At Acme, our ISRs do two things for success: We get the job done right the first time and we provide new products and leads for our customers, internal and external.”
Validate that a job done properly and delivered on time is the key to producing new business and building customer loyalty. Teach ISRs to proactively introduce new products into the mix for existing customers. Sell the belief to ISRs that promoting new products is not pushy; if you truly believe you can add value—and why shouldn’t you believe it if you’re delivering efficiently?—then you’re doing customers a service by adding more products to their cart.
Plan the greetings: We’ll be just fine if we never hear another salesperson greet a customer with, “How can I help you?” Instead, teach your inside sales team some creative new salutations such as, “What are you working on today?” Or, “Glad you’re here! After we fulfill your order, ask me about our upcoming event.”
One of my favorite questions to ask is, “How can I get you out of here today?” It will certainly get the conversation going! “You want to get me out of here?” the customer will ask, incredulously. To which you can respond, “Not at all! But I assume you have work to finish. What do you need me to do for that to happen?”
Don’t just say you’re different; be different.
Formalize the lead hand-off: If your strategy truly is to sell proactively—and you believe the inside team should be part of that—then teach them to garner leads and plan the hand-off. Your ISRs talk to customers more frequently than the outside sales team. They should continually seek opportunities to introduce new products. Homeowner walk-ins should be treated as valuable leads for your contractor customers. Most importantly, new leads should be communicated and tracked in writing. If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.
Don’t talk about the value of your ISRs when they’re not around. In fact, don’t talk about their value at all. Just make them valuable by ensuring that they’re part of the selling process and by providing some simple ways to contribute. They’ll be grateful for the recognition and growth opportunity while increasing sales for the branch.
Rick Davis will join industry icon Bill Lee in a 15 city "Beat the Price Objection" tour. To learn more or to order his latest book, visit buildingleaders.com, call 773.769.4409, or email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.