12 Inside Sales Strategies to Close Leads Faster
Whether you’re just getting started or have already built your inside sales career, you know that sales tactics aren’t simply learned in a classroom and immediately applied to drive real results.
While there are proven sales strategies that are widely applicable to growing your company or startup, regardless of industry, it’s not quite as simple as copying, pasting, and kicking back to watch your sales numbers soar.
Becoming an inside sales expert requires repetition, the willingness to adapt on the fly, and a dedication to improving your approach on a daily basis.
For most, that experience and knowledge bank take years to accumulate.
However, if you learn from the people who’ve already put in thousands of hours optimizing lead generation, cold calling leads, and creating winning sales emails, you can significantly chip away at the inside sales learning curve. Let's begin.
1. Develop a Deep Understanding of Your Prospect’s Business
This inside sales tip cuts to the core of what it means to partner with your customers, rather than just selling them something and moving on to the next prospect.
You’re providing a solution that your prospect needs in order to deliver real business results. So, you need to invest in a lead qualification process that ensures your solution can drive results long after the client signs on the dotted line.
To qualify your leads before selling to them, take these four steps:
Build Your Ideal Customer Profile
An ideal customer profile will help you identify and better serve potential customers. Ask questions like:
- What industry is my ideal customer in?
- How large is their company?
- Where is the company located?
- What’s the ideal use case?
- Have they used any similar tools in the past? If so, which ones?
Hey there! Want to convert leads with precision? Our guide on MQL vs. SQL awaits.
Understand Their Needs
Your inside sales team needs to know what downstream results your solution will provide for your ideal customers, on all levels within the organization. Ask:
- What’s the specific goal my ideal customer wants to achieve?
- How will they measure these results internally?
Gauge Their Decision-Making Process
Early in your qualification process, it’s wise to get a clear picture of how long your sales process will be. Ask your prospect:
- How does your company usually make these purchasing decisions?
- How long does it typically take to buy a product?
Know Your Competition
You have to know who you’re competing against, so ask yourself:
- Am I competing with other vendors, or even the prospect’s in-house team that could build their own solution?
- Which vendors have they worked with previously?
When you qualify leads, convert them to paying customers, and deliver the results they’re expecting, you’re laying the foundation for a referral engine that brings unprecedented numbers of new customers your way.
2. Personalize for Each Prospect
You’re selling to people, not companies—even in B2B sales.
So, endeavor to personalize every step of the inside sales process.
It starts with your initial outreach. We’ve all received those copy-and-paste cold sales emails that read like a robot. For example:
When prospects get the impression that the “person” emailing hasn’t even checked out their website to determine an actual need for the solution, the deal is already dead.
Personalization applies throughout the entire inside sales cycle:
- Include specific details about the prospect, even with call/email templates.
- Tailor your sales pitch to specific customer needs and pain points.
- Use an intuitive CRM to record and incorporate customer details in current and future communication.
Every time you pick up the phone, you’ll be talking to a real person—not a faceless entity with deep pockets. Particularly with inside and remote sales, don’t lose sight of the humanity on the other end of your screen. Outside sales reps have the advantage here, with face-to-face customer interaction.
Whatever the case, understand the individual you’re pitching to. To do that, do your homework ahead of time.
Whether sending an email to a cold lead or delivering a demo for sales executives (and everyone in between), customize for your audience.
3. Build Trust Through Listening
Most people spend a whopping 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves. Studies show that when we talk about ourselves, we have higher activity levels in the parts of the brain that register rewards—which explains the positive feeling we get.
For years, companies have been using this fact to their advantage.
Make the most of our hardwired tendency to talk about ourselves, and let your prospects express themselves during the sales process. When they’ve been heard, they’re more likely to feel good about the interaction—and that builds trust.
4. Craft a Powerful Story that Builds Value + Excitement
Telling a story sounds too simple, but let’s take a closer look.
Storytelling has long been a staple of human interaction. We understand, retain, and relate to stories better than any other presentation style. Marketing teams know this, and sales professionals must employ this strategy as well.
As you craft the story you’ll be sharing with prospects, keep these seven core story elements in mind:
- Stasis: This is the norm—everyday life that sets the stage for what happens next.
- Trigger: The trigger is beyond the control of the protagonist and can be either pleasant or unpleasant. For inside sales, this is the challenge or struggle your prospect is facing, often some sort of growth obstacle.
- Quest: The trigger leads to a quest for a solution.
- Critical choice: This is when the protagonist needs to make a tough decision, which reveals their character. You’ll want to play to your prospect’s desire to take control of their situation; to be proactive in solving the problem.
- Climax: The protagonist’s decision results in a peak of tension. This could be a momentary dip in performance, as your character shifts priorities.
- Reversal: The reversal is the result of the critical choice and climax. This will change the status of the character, and it’s where you emphasize what your solution has accomplished.
- Resolution: The resolution is a return to a new, fresh, and better (ideally by core metrics) stasis. The characters should be changed, as they’re now wiser and enlightened.
After you’ve shared the final resolution (i.e. positive business impact your character experienced), the story is complete. Your message has been driven home and your sales plan has started on the right foot.
5. Never Stop Following Up
Take it from Steli, our CEO at Close, who has more than a decade of experience growing startups into seven-figure companies.
“I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response,” Steli explains. “I don’t care what the response is, as long as I get one. If someone tells me they need another 14 days to get back to me, I’ll put that in my calendar and ping them again in 14 days.
If they tell me they’re busy and don’t have time right now, I’ll respond and ask when a good time would be for me to reach out.”
According to Steli, his success with inside sales is largely due to his philosophy on following up—never considering a deal dead until getting a very, very clear no from a prospect.
This tactic is technically easy. It’s usually not hard to make initial contact with a prospect.
But that’s where many inside sales reps pause or stop altogether, hoping their prospect is already so sold that they’ll be clamoring to sign the contract.
It’s tempting to sit around and wait for prospects to respond. You don’t want to be a pain in the ass, right? None of us want to annoy, and rejection is never fun.
But that’s exactly why you should never stop following up. You’re differentiating yourself from everyone else who’s competing for this customer’s business and attention.
Develop a mindset of persistence, and a commitment to seeing every single deal through until you get a clear answer. It’s not about following up to close every lead, but about making sure you’re never left with a maybe.
We know first-hand the hectic life of a founder in sales mode, and the brutal grind of inside sales, so we built follow up reminders into the core sales workflow with Close CRM. Test it out with a free trial today.
6. Follow the Ask, Define, Explore Method
When asked for his most effective sales tactic after nearly a decade in sales, Arjun Varma, Sales Manager at Quantcast, shared, “My most effective sales tactic can be used in a quick exchange or in a big meeting, and has helped me win as both a sales rep and now as a sales manager. Ask, define, and explore.”
You must ask the right questions from the moment you strike up a conversation with your prospect. This is crucial to qualifying whether or not their business is a match for what you’re selling. Ask questions that get you this information:
- Are they an ideal customer?
- What are their needs?
- What is their decision-making process, and who are the key decision makers?
- What is their level of experience with solutions like yours?
Often, the solution that inside sales representatives are selling has the primary purpose of helping customers do more business and/or do business more efficiently.
Don’t assume that your prospect already understands how your solution will meet their challenges. Early in the sales process, work with prospects to define their pain points and explain how you solve them.
It’s not always realistic, no matter how much information you have, to walk into a meeting (or phone call) with an interested prospect and immediately land on a game plan with them.
Instead, you need to explore the solution together. This is a collaborative process that must be done with your prospect, not in a silo where you’re strategizing at your desk solo.
7. Know When to Shut Up During a Sales Pitch
To fight the urge to ramble during a sales call, embrace the silence.
Why does this work?
During a sales pitch, it can be tempting to fill silent voids with selling points and value propositions. Rather than continuing on ad nauseam, ask an important qualifying question—then be quiet and let reality sink in.
Here’s what you don’t want to do. Ask, "What's holding you back? Is it the contract?” and then launch straight into negotiating around the objection you just put in your own way: “If it's the contract, we can negotiate that, but you really don't have to worry because ... oversell, oversell, oversell.”
Instead, ask a smart question that's relevant to their specific pain point.
Pause confidently. Invite them to speak and acknowledge their response. Encourage questions. Negotiate if needed. Ask for the close.
You must make it abundantly clear that you’re here to help your prospects, not just to make the sale and carry on with your day. Listen and collaborate.
8. Identify Your Prospect’s Primary Motivation
In the world of inside sales, you have to cut to the core of your prospect’s deepest motivation.
If you waste five minutes of your prospect’s time droning on about a product feature or service offering that isn’t going to positively affect their primary business need right now, chances are high that you’ll lose the sale.
Instead, use early conversations to probe which of your customers’ needs are the highest priority—don’t just take their word for it, do your own homework and ask the right questions to cut through the noise:
- How did you hear about us?
- What’s the top challenge your team or company is currently facing?
- What’s the top challenge you’re personally facing?
- What are the results you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve them?
- What concerns do you (or the decision makers) have?
If you’re not able to identify your prospect’s biggest pain point, it’ll be difficult to get your prospect to care—or treat your solution as a must-have.
9. Provide Value with Product Demos
Some products just need to be test driven before you can fully understand what they do and how they'll impact your business. Plus, demos are arguably one of the best ways to give your prospects a quick “Aha! moment” that pushes them over the edge.
When you’re ready to deliver your demo, keep these four pitching essentials in mind.
- A good demo balances business and emotional needs. No matter who you’re demoing for, you have to hit them on both emotional and business levels. Talk about less obvious benefits, like saving countless hours of their time each week, and helping them over-deliver on their manager’s expectations.
- A good demo is succinct. In most cases, you only have a few moments to capture attention at the beginning of your demo and get your most important point across.
- A good demo tells a story. The flow of your demo should follow a narrative pattern, whether it’s a live walkthrough of your product or via a slide deck using visually appealing templates from solutions like Slidebean.
- A good demo focuses on benefits. Value beats price every single time. Rather than focus on cost or features, your pitch needs to focus on the value you’re going to create for the person you’re pitching.
Remember, your customers care about how you’ll help them. Show them how you’re better than the competition, don’t just tell them.
10. Treat Prospects Like Real People
With the proliferation of sales automation tools that make your workflow easier, there’s a natural trade-off. While you gain in productivity and scale, you lose some of that personal touch—and empathy.
Displaying real empathy throughout the inside sales process develops the customer relationship as they build confidence in you—and your solution. Plus, it makes them more likely to listen to you (and refer their peers) because they trust that you “get” them and their pain points.
If you take a few minutes to really personalize and humanize your outreach, you can experience a major lift in response rate. Most people just want to know they’re talking to a real person.
Start with these outreach techniques:
- Explore your prospect’s social media and craft a message that highlights a shared interest.
- If they have a blog, mention what you liked about a recent post.
- Mention a mutual connection you share to establish relevance.
This tactic extends beyond the prospecting phase, too.
Invest in the creation of guides, video demos, case studies, and walkthroughs that cover the most common questions prospects have during the selling process. Save time answering questions and objections, while still meeting prospect expectations.
11. Use Social Selling to Your Advantage
Whether you like it or not, social selling is here to stay—and it’s working. Based on LinkedIn data, 51 percent of social selling leaders are more likely to reach quota and 78 percent of social sellers outsell their peers who don’t use social media for sales.
Thanks to professional networks like LinkedIn, any inside sales rep can instantly leverage their network to find the right prospects, build relationships, and start conversations that could close more deals. Positioning yourself as an industry expert (if you are, in fact, one) can bring more qualified leads directly to your inbox, just by regularly showing up on your social platforms.
If you’re just starting with social selling as a sales technique, jump in with these four tips:
- Create a professional brand. By establishing a strong professional brand for yourself, you’ll demonstrate that you’re an active force within your industry. This can result in more inbound leads, and boost response rates for your outbound outreach.
- Find the right prospects. 75 percent of B2B buyers use social media to make buying decisions, and social selling helps you filter and identify prospects based on your ideal customer criteria.
- Engage with insights. Social selling helps you position yourself as an expert by sharing relevant industry insights and thought pieces—then, use these gained insights to make new contacts and reach decision-makers.
- Build relationships. Build trust with your prospects by becoming the ultimate education resource for topics within your industry. Have genuine conversations and focus on your prospects’ needs in your content.
Show up, be present, and engage. Become an inside sales force.
12. Mirror Your Prospects
We’re all familiar with mirroring, whether we realize it or not.
What is it? When you’re in conversation, and either you or the person begins to subconsciously imitate the gestures, facial expressions, speech patterns, or attitudes of the other, that’s mirroring.
For inside sales, mirroring helps put prospects at ease, and introduces a friendly atmosphere to the conversation—both face-to-face, and over the phone.
So, you want to mirror the attitude, tone, and expressions of your prospect. How?
- If your prospect has a calm demeanor, don’t talk a mile a minute.
- If your prospect sounds confused or isn’t giving much input, don’t drone on with deeper explanations of features and benefits. Pause and ask if everything makes sense.
- If you have an in-person meeting, or are giving a presentation or demo, make frequent eye contact and reinforce warm facial expressions. If they return in-kind, you have their attention.
Remember, you’re in the position to dictate much of the conversational tone, since you’re kicking things off.
Start well and keep momentum with mirroring.
Elevate Your Inside Sales Team
Inside sales can be a grind, especially if you’re just getting started on that learning curve.
As you prospect for potential customers, send cold emails and dial numbers, follow up with warm leads, and track deals in your pipeline—you need to have the right technology, sales training, and sales tools to maximize results.
Inside sales success relies heavily on an effective CRM. Streamline sales activities, centralize customer data, and optimize team outreach in one user-friendly platform.