Find the Right Mix of Inside vs. Outside Sales Personnel

Every business needs the right blend of talent to successfully market and sell to the various kinds of prospects which exist in its territory. The tendency is to try to fill up a roster with A-type personality, go-getter salespeople. But, just as a football team would fail if it were comprised solely of quarterbacks, so are businesses hobbled if they only hire this kind of salesperson.

You need a mix of both outside sales hunters and inside sales farmers, in order to maximize revenue and provide the support needed for the different types of customers every business has. The problem lies in striking the right balance, as having too many outside sales people can waste time when they have to consult the main office to answer technical queries, and having too few can leave sales opportunities undiscovered.

Here are some tips for creating the perfect blend of inside vs. outside sales personnel which will allow you to sellto the greatest number of customers with the least waste.

1. Determine what you want your team to do for you.

This depends on the marketing/prospecting approach taken, which in turn depends on both your product and where your business lies in the business cycle. Here are some typical scenarios:

  • New businesses without a lot of resources to maintain an outside sales force might want to start off with mostly internal sales people who take orders that come in through marketing and advertising efforts. An 80/20 mix of inside vs. outside sales personnel works well here, with salespeople reaching out to prospects via phone or email whenever they are not actively working with someone who has called in.
  • Established businesses seeking to expand their growth and territories should then get more aggressive and invest in a field sales force to better penetrate the market. The key here is setting appointments for face-to-face presentations and finding “coaches” to help seal the deal.
  • Older companies seeking to maintain their large customer bases while simultaneously pushing new products and services would be best served by a nearly 50/50 balance in order to cover all bases.

Now, every business is different, and yours might be a new business that requires a lot of high-touch, face-to-face interaction to land a deal. In this case you should ignore the first bullet point and hire a lot of outside salespeople and maintain a few inside people to service house accounts and the like.

2. Test for aptitude

Once you have determined the number of salespeople you need in each category, it is time to assess all applicants with the Craft Personality Questionnaire to ensure they are being placed in the right roles.

If you fail to do this, mark my words, you risk losing thousands of dollars in onboarding and training costs, not to mention lost sales.

3. Establish formal sales processes for each

Another critical point is to establish formal sales processes, rather than have salespeople just “wing it.”

Revisiting our earlier sports analogy, would you let the members of a professional football team just go out there and do whatever they pleased, or would you establish some set plays and procedures that will help them win the game?

It is the same thing with a sales team. From prospecting, to CRM input, to account management, both inside and outside sales teams need formal processes which enable them to work with a lot less headaches and a better closing ratio.

4. Train

Once the right team with the correct mix of inside vs. outside sales personnel has been established and formal processes designed, it is time to train everyone on both their specific role in the organization and in general sales skills.

Training can provide the rocket booster to sales superstardom, but only if the previous steps have been taken, or else you will be training the wrong people for the wrong jobs.


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