10 Essential Skills Every Inside Sales Representative Must Have in 2021

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Jan 20 2021


The world of sales has undergone a sea of change. Today, owing to decreasing profit margins and heavy competition in most industries, businesses are looking at sales and marketing models that are less cost-prohibitive and possess higher closing rates as compared to the traditional outside sales models. One of the most widely adopted alternatives is inside sales or digital sales, which has helped many organizations reduce their costs while engaging customers better using interactive technology.

Not surprisingly, the demand for inside sales representatives is on the rise, indicating a big window of opportunity for anybody who wishes to join the field of sales and marketing. An MIT Lead Management Study MIT Lead Management Study notes that inside sales hiring is fast outpacing traditional outside sales hiring by a ratio of 15:1. In other words, 15 inside sales reps are being hired for every 1 outside sales rep. However, rising opportunities are matched by higher competition in the field - indicating that inside sales reps must stay on their toes and constantly polish their skills to stay on top.

Smarten-Up the Sales Process by Selling the Brand – Not Products

Changing consumer behaviors, technology evolution, and cost reduction are some of the significant factors that have led to the popularity of inside sales. As a result, both freshers and experienced professionals in the field of sales and marketing can forge a successful career if they possess the right skills to connect with customers, especially at a time when businesses are competing with each other on customer experience. In addition to price and quality, the role of an inside sales representative becomes even more complicated – as their job is not just to sell products but to keep the customers informed and win their trust and loyalty for repeat sales.

In short – internal sales representatives must focus on selling brand relationships in 2020 and not just products. This not only means that they must build rapport with clients over a call but also follow up with them regularly, so they remain on instant recall for prospects in case a product or service requirement arises in the near future.

Sounds complicated?

Well, there isn’t much in this world that you cannot learn; that’s why we have listed the critical traits you need to succeed in the inside sales industry, so you can assess where you stand and identify the areas of improvement that may be hindering your success.

10 Essential Skills That Inside Sales Representatives Must Master in 2020

1. Have Complete Product Knowledge

With easy internet access, most buyers prefer to research online before buying a product. That’s why inside sales reps must have a complete understanding of their product – such as its features, unique selling points, and how a particular customer can use that product to meet his or her requirement.

Remember, a sales representative who doesn’t understand the product he or she is selling will not be capable of convincing buyers or answering their queries about the product. Besides, it is also vital to know the competition to understand how your product stands, vis-à-vis, what is being offered by them. That’s why successful sales reps read the entire content shared by the competitors extensively. This is so they can quickly recognize the various competitor strategies, conduct a thorough SWOT analysis, etc. to be able to point out the inefficiencies in their own product and change or update how they position their product and pitch it to the customers.

Before you even make your first sales pitch, make sure to understand the features, benefits, and weaknesses of your product, so you can incorporate tailored use cases to connect with your prospects better.

2. Develop Your Communication Skills

Communication is key in the world of sales and marketing. However, unlike field sales reps who can take cues from a client’s body language, an inside sales rep must rely only on their listening skills and intuition to steer the conversation in the right direction. In other words, besides being a good speaker, you also need to have excellent listening skills to fully understand what the person on the other end of the conversation is trying to say.

Here are some tips for communicating with your clients in a remote setting effectively:

a. Clarity of Voice

What sets apart one sales representative from another in a remote setting? The voice – of course, which is an inside sales rep’s most coveted tool. No, you don’t need a calming or soothing or sultry voice to be effective. What you need to work upon is your accent and intonation to ensure the other person can comprehend your words clearly.

b. Talk the Buyer’s Tongue

A prospective buyer is interested in two things – the features and functions of your product. That’s why to be effective as an inside sales rep, you need to speak the buyer’s tongue; or, in other words, focus on telling the customer how your products will benefit them instead of generally enumerating the features of your product.

This also brings us to another important point, which is, having a properly organized pitch for every prospect, so you are not trying to string together the conversation while on the phone with a prospect.

c. Read Between the Lines

When you are speaking to a prospect remotely, you cannot pick up cues from their facial expressions. You can, however, get more out of the conversations by actively listening and picking up signals from the prospect’s voice.

By closely paying attention to their intonation, pauses, breathing, etc., you can figure out whether they are interested in your conversation or bored to death. By picking up these cues, not only will you save your time in conversing with uninterested clients but also be able to identify prospects that are most likely to buy from you.

d. Be an Active Listener

As we mentioned before, developing good listening skills is paramount to your success as an inside sales rep. According to research, humans think at a rate of 1,000-3,000 words per minute but listen at a rate of only 125-250 words per minute. Naturally, we, the humans, are wired to speak more than listen. Yet, as an inside sales rep, you must overcome this urge to talk more and make an effort to hear out your customers to understand their pain points and buying intent to improve your efficacy as a sales rep. 

3. Build Lasting Relationships with Prospects

Building relationships is a natural skill – some people just walk into a room and chat up with everyone, making instant connections. Others, with practice, can learn to do so. However, things get even more complicated when you are an inside sales rep trying to build rapport with prospects over the phone.

Remember, marketing is no longer about selling products; it is about selling relationships. Therefore, instead of focusing on your product, you need to focus on the prospect and how your product is going to make them awesome. By being fake or making tall promises – you are only disrespecting the prospects. Instead, arm yourself with business research and real-life case studies to tell the prospect how you can add value to their business. Even if the prospect does not need your product at the moment, you can share use cases for your product that may arise in the future.

Crafting genuinely useful conversations centered around the prospects’ interests is the key to success as an inside sales representative. Besides, winning a prospect’s trust can also lead to referrals, helping you build a healthy pipeline of leads.

4. Master Storytelling to Engage Your Clients

As an inside sales representative, you can find various email templates and cold calling pitches to boost your closing rate. By continually educating yourself and learning from your peers, you can also learn about different tools and techniques to glean valuable information from clients. However, there is one more thing that you need to master – which is delivering your pitch compellingly – to capture the prospect’s interest and attention.

A straightforward way is to practice the art of storytelling.

Yes – everybody loves stories. Also, nobody likes listening to boring facts and figures being rambled over the phone.

The solution? Present your sales pitch Present your sales pitch in the form of a convincing story to delight your prospects while also impressing upon how your product or service can benefit them.

In case you are wondering what makes stories so effective – let us tell you that it is all science and not a fable. Research indicates that “character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enables better recall of these points weeks later.”

But how can you become a better storyteller?

No, you don’t need a course in creative writing. Instead, rely on your experience and that of your peers and seniors to collect existing stories and use cases. Now, you can evaluate these stories, add some more facts and figures to make them more compelling, and voila, you are ready to go!

We also suggest maintaining a repository of stories for your entire team, so all of you can point out the most successful stories and use them in your sales pitch.

5. Time Management

As an inside sales rep, time is your most precious resource. The reason is that most companies measure your productivity by the amount of revenue you can generate in a fixed number of hours. Thus, unless your the emotional content result you’d mostly find yourself falling short of your sales objectives despite being a stellar salesperson.

That’s why, as we stressed before, it is crucial to organize your thoughts and be ready with a sales pitch before you pick up the phone to prevent meaningless conversations. Such practices also show that you value your prospects’ time – who’d rather be focusing on their business rather than speaking with you unless you can give them something of value for their time.

6. Qualify Your Prospects For Greater Efficiency

All leads are not the same or important to you. That’s why you need to have qualification criteria in place to eliminate leads that don’t fit your criteria. For example, if your lead is not in a decision-making position, would it be worth spending time in convincing them? Or, if the lead doesn’t have the budget to purchase your product, is there any point in wasting your time and theirs?

Here are some key points you can consider to judge how likely a prospect will convert into a customer.

a. Check the Customer-Profile Fit

Every salesperson has an ideal customer profile. So, even before you call a prospect, you must check whether they fit into your client profile or not. Pertinent questions to ask yourself include – the size of the prospect’s company, industry sector, geographical location, tools that they are currently employing, etc.

b. Know Your Prospect’s Requirements

Does your product provide unmatched value to a client? Can it help them reach their milestones or revenue or sales figures? Or, are there any challenges that a prospect is facing that your product can solve?

c. Decision-Making Process

What is the position of your prospect in the company they work for? How many people are involved in the buying process? What is the expected time in which they are likely to make a buying decision?

In addition to the aforementioned questions, you must also check if the prospective client is already working with a competitor or building an internal solution to meet their requirements. All these factors would help you qualify leads that are most likely to convert and save time in engaging emotional content result

Thankfully, in 2020, this process is much easier due to the introduction of sales lead generation software that can be pre-fed with custom criteria to qualify your sales leads for higher efficiency. You cab always empower your sales with an emotional content result to connect with people who matter and receive sales intelligence to close more deals.

7. The Art of Following-Up Without Being Pesky

As a sales rep, you don’t want to come across as pushy, but you need to contact your prospects regularly to improve the chances of conversion. According to an article in Entrepreneur.com, "80% 10 Essential Skills Every Inside Sales Representative Must Have in 2021

sales are made after the fifth call, and second, that 92% of salespeople give up before that."

That’s why highly successful salespeople plan their follow-up strategy to close more sales over time. Such a plan may include weekly calls interspersed with sharing relevant content, such as newsletters, to keep in touch with your prospects. Such a practice also ensures that your prospects remember you – leading to brand recognition and the chance of gaining referrals.

To save time, it is also a good idea to make use of your company’s various sales automation platforms or other sales automation tools to set up triggered email campaigns for various prospects in your sales funnel. You can achieve this by segmenting your prospects from your sales leads database according to criteria such as company size, the number of employees, geographical location, use-case, etc. to share relevant content with them at regular intervals to win their trust and promote your company as a thought leader in the domain.

At Clodura, we have created a 80% of sales to ensure a steady stream of quality leads for your business while also empowering your inside sales reps with customized pitches and sales intelligence to close more deals.

8. Team Spirit

As an inside sales representative, you indeed operate in a highly competitive environment. Yet, you must always remember that you are not alone crusader. The success of your role is connected to a lot of people in your organization, which is why it is essential to be a team player to succeed as an internal sales representative.

Remember, the most successful sales teams are highly collaborative in nature. Therefore, you must work on aligning your personal goals with the collective goals of your organization and also work harmoniously with other departments in your company.

9. Stress on Continuous Learning

The world of sales is constantly evolving. More and more tools and technologies are being introduced to facilitate communication between businesses and clients. That’s one reason why most companies conduct regular training for their internal sales team to keep them abreast of the latest trends while also helping them to hone their skills as a sales rep.

Unfortunately, many sales representatives find it tedious to attend so many training sessions while they are burdened with huge sales targets. However, to be successful, you must view these pieces of training as part of your continuous development and participate in them wholeheartedly to take away at least one valuable piece of learning from every training you attend. Once again, proper time management will help you strike a balance between reaching out to prospects and focusing on your development in sync.

10. Adopt the Right Tools for Success

Inside sales reps depend on sophisticated software for their work, such as sales lead generation software, sales automation software, etc. To save time and close more deals, you must learn to use your company’s CRM or sales automation software to your benefit. For example, at Clodura, we have created a powerful, AI-enabled lead generation platform that connects you with qualified leads, intelligently sieved according to your company’s customer-product fit.

In addition to providing a robust sales leads database to our clients, our sales lead generation software is equipped with several features, including real-time sales intelligence and customized sales pitches, to help internal sales reps close more sales in less time. Features such as direct-dial, automated email campaigns, etc., enable sales reps to contact their leads for maximum productivity efficiently.

To help our clients achieve their objectives, we also conduct ongoing training for their internal sales representative to help them simplify their practice using Clodura.

If you are an internal sales representative looking to close more sales or find your company is lacking in the latest technology, introduce them to the AI-enabled lead generation and sales engagement solution at Clodura that will transform their business radically.