How to turn an outside sales rep into an inside sales rep

by Steli Efti
inside sales reps-1

There’s an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In other words, if someone has been doing something a certain way for years, they’ll never abandon those methods, no matter how outdated they become.

The truth is this:

That’s a bunch of nonsense.

Learning a new trick may be challenging and take a little more work, but that old dog can most certainly do it if you’re willing to put in the time. Nevertheless, this saying has become widely used in the world of sales to defend the old-school art of outside sales.

As technology has evolved, the way sales teams operate has evolved as well. Old outside sales practices like knocking on doors and attending events are becoming obsolete thanks to the power of digital communications and inside sales CRM solutions.

Even still, there’s a common belief that it’s impossible to transition your sales team from outside sales to inside sales. After all, once an outside sales rep, always an outside sales rep, right?

Not quite.

Just like you can teach your 12-year-old golden retriever to roll over (with some time and effort), you can teach your outside sales reps to become great inside sales reps. All of the experience they’ve gained through the years can carry over into the inside sales world with a little bit of training.

The big question you’re probably asking now is this:

How can I convince my outside sales team to embrace inside sales?

And we want to help you answer that question. This post is designed to be a how-to guide you can use to train your outside sales reps to become great inside sales reps. Start with these four things:

1) How to prospect online

“But Steli, if I’m not going to all of these events and knocking on doors, how on earth am I supposed to find qualified prospects?”

Here’s the truth: You’re probably going to get a question that looks real similar to this one when you first start to transition your outside sales reps into inside sales reps. How are you supposed to answer it, you ask?

Introduce them to the beautiful new world of online prospecting.

Gone are the days of exclusively offline prospecting, where the more events you showed your face at and the number of doors you knocked on equaled more prospects.

Online prospecting tools like LeadFuze, VoilaNorbert and Close will quickly become your new inside sales reps’ best friends. We even put together a list highlighting 15 free new online sales tools for prospecting that you should definitely check out to get the ball rolling.

To make sure your inside sales reps are putting their time to good use, create detailed processes that outline how to search for prospects online and what to do when they find good leads. These processes will guide your outside sales reps as they build their online prospecting skills during the transition to inside sales.

2) How to build rapport through a call or email

For your sales reps, the key to closing a deal is building a relationship with their prospect. The greater the rapport between them, the easier the sales process will be.

In the past, outside sales reps relied on golf outings and fancy dinners to build this rapport.

While a round of golf and a round of cocktails could still be effective, the best inside sales reps understand that the same relationship can be built online or over the phone. Instead of spending a full day pampering a prospect, your sales reps can achieve the same result in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost.

Here’s the best part about all of this for you:

Your outside sales reps are likely already great at relationship building.

The only thing you’ll need to teach them is how to move this process from the golf course to the email inbox or a phone call. Once they master the art of building rapport remotely, they’ll be able to connect with 10x the prospects they could before.

3) How to be more productive with calls

If your best outside sales reps can master the art of inside sales, they could bring in 10x the results while putting in the same number of hours each week as before. Think about it...

What used to take a full day or more can now be done in an hour or less.

Using the old methods, if you wanted to connect with a hot lead to talk about a deal, you would probably fly out to meet them and devote an entire day—or more—to wining and dining them.

That entire process can now take place online or over the phone. That means your sales rep won’t have to spend hours traveling, freeing them up to talk to more prospects every day.

Of course, those newly freed-up hours mean nothing if your sales reps aren’t using them effectively. The best way to maximize efficiency and productivity is—you guessed it—to create detailed sales processes that your reps can follow with every prospect. And have the tools in place that enable them to focus on the right activities: communicating with prospects.

Our inside sales CRM has a built-in Power Dialer that will enable your sales reps to call more of your leaders in a shorter amount of time than ever before, and the predictive dialer will take things even farther.

After moving our team to Close's built-in Power Dialer, we saw a 60% increase in outbound call volume and a 28% increase in outbound call duration." - Sarah Haselkorn, Sales Ops at MakeSpace

If they’re spending less time knocking on doors and more time on the phone, you want to make sure those hours are being put to good use.

4) How to master the online demo

One of the biggest worries that outside sales reps have about transitioning to inside sales is that their presentations won’t be as effective in an online demo. What about all those subtle gestures they used to influence prospects and help close the deal?

How are your reps supposed to sell anything if they can’t rely on all the presentation tactics they’ve used successfully in the past?

The truth is, your sales reps simply need to learn to leverage those same tactics in an online meeting. We shared a post not too long ago on how to deliver an online product demo that actually sells, and it breaks down what you need to focus on when building a successful product demo.

In that post, you’ll learn:

  • How to structure and open your demo
  • The rules of effective demo engagement
  • How to deliver a compelling presentation
  • How to deal with the various scenarios you might encounter when demoing to a prospect
  • And finally, how to close the demo

Once again, the best way to ensure your new inside sales reps are maximizing their productivity is to create detailed processes and provide frameworks they can build on. Instead of asking them to put together an online product demo or presentation from scratch, use that product demo guidelines post to develop a proven template they can use as a starting point.

Want more advice on giving winning product demonstrations? Get a free copy of Product Demos That Sell!product_demos_that_sell_cover

Now over to you

It may not always be easy to transition your outside sales reps to inside sales, but it’s definitely not impossible. The benefits of having a high-functioning inside sales team are hard to ignore. The amount of time and money your sales team will save on travel alone should make it an easy decision.

Focus first on the four key points we talked about here, and the transition will be much easier to navigate.

If you want to make sure your new inside sales reps are mastering the art of the digital demo, download a free copy of our book Product Demos That Sell today and build a winning demo framework of your own!

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