Previously, we summarized the findings from a research project that took us three years to complete. It involved hundreds of interviews with sales leaders and testing dozens of sales teams. We put together the findings a detailed white paper titled 5 Habits that Limit Most Sales Teams. Many of the sales executives who reviewed this research have told us it’s the most consequential study on sales teams since the publishing of “The Challenger Sale.” The bottom line conclusions from the research are:
- Over 70% of all salespeople make the same mistakes on actual sales calls and meetings repeatedly
- Of the four different modes of sales coaching, only one of them has much impact in terms of breaking those 4 bad habits
- Less than 10% of all front-line sales managers know what the one form of coaching that impacts those 4 key mistakes is and how to do it
- The one coaching and training approach that has a significant impact on breaking these 4 bad habits is based on how elite sports teams train their athletes
Although other factors besides actual performance on sales calls and meetings impact sales performance (personality, likeability, drive/motivation, and time management), the vast majority of salespeople fail because they cannot spark something positive to happen when they’re speaking to high potential leads, prospects, and customers.
Do inside sales teams make the same mistakes?
The question is, does this all apply to inside sales teams? The answer is a yes … absolutely yes!
It used to be when we talked about inside sales teams, we were talking more about lead generation and customer service or sales support. That has changed dramatically in the last 20 years because of the internet, information sharing, and the drive for more efficiency with less cost.
Inside sales teams are selling long cycle, multi-million dollar deals and are doing the shortest cycle transactional selling as well. We’ve tested all types of inside sales teams, even the ones that sell sophisticated services like software development, consulting services, and medical devices and the results are the same.
They are making the exact same 4 mistakes on sales calls that outside sales teams are making:
- Talking too much and taking too long to get to the point
- Not asking the right, relevant questions at the right time in the sales process
- Inability to communicate clear and convincing competitive advantages
- Poor call control of the sales process and inability to close or even ask for the order
Inside sales teams typically do get more day-to-day coaching and monitoring
Interestingly, inside sales teams do get more of what sales executives would call sales coaching and overall monitoring than outside salespeople. The reasons for this are obvious:
- In most cases, inside salespeople are interacting with their customers and prospects over the phone and those interactions can be recorded and analyzed
- When inside salespeople are located in a central location (not working out of their homes) the sales managers are right there, able to visually watch what they’re doing. With outside salespeople, there’s always some mystery as to what they’re doing when they’re out there on their own, on the road
- It’s much easier for sales managers to call quick meetings and huddles when the salespeople are literally right there and not traveling around on sales calls
- It’s easier to observe inside salespeople on the phone and give them quick feedback on sales calls that just happened
- CRM systems like Salesforce track and report the activities of inside salespeople in a way that gives a lot of visibility into their activities
Then why isn’t coaching with inside sales teams more effective?
So, with all these advantages sales managers have with inside sales teams, why do their salespeople make the same 4 mistakes on sales calls? Why isn’t the increased training, monitoring, call recording, tracking and frequency of quick meetings having more impact?
The answer is maddeningly simple … because traditional coaching and sales training for inside sales has minimal impact on these four mistakes. And, interestingly, inside salespeople typically do not like the kind of coaching that is very popular in contact centers which is listening to and review of their recorded calls.
Next, we’ll examine the way inside sales teams are typically coached and why it has such little impact on the four mistakes they’re making on most of their sales interactions.
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