Recently, I was able to pick the brains of inside sales expert, Ian Moyse. He was awarded Sales Director of the year 2015 by the Institute of Sales & Marketing, is rated #1 Social Influencer on Cloud by Onalytica in 2015 and 2016 and is listed on a growing number of sales and social sales expert lists. He sits on the boards of Eurocloud, Cloud Industry Forum and FAST.
Ian was able to share his thoughts on inside sales, sales development and social selling, here’s what he had to say.
Chris: Why has the sales development role become so important in the modern sales process?
Ian Moyse: Sales engagement cycles are often far longer now and a customer has typically done 50-70% (depending whose stats you use and believe) of their research before engaging with a salesperson in any form.
It’s rare now that you speak or meet with someone looking for your solution or service type and they have not already gleaned a ton of information, opinion and contacts prior.
Therefore, engaging with a prospective client at the right time and making sure you are at that buying table is essential. This historically was left in the hands of marketing to market to and nurture prospects.
In today’s world, a combination of outbound & inbound marketing needs to be combined with sales nurturing.
Chris: What tips would you give to companies who feel their sales and marketing functions aren’t aligned as well as they should be?
Ian Moyse: It starts with the leadership. The heads of both departments need to be aligned in their goals and KPIs, as often this is where the conflict stems from.
If you have a marketing department who are judged on the number of leads generated for example, then they will focus on doing that. Sales then gets pressure from marketing to follow up everything, to allow marketing to tick the relevant KPI boxes.
Will Sales consider these all to be leads though? For example, a student writing a thesis may download a whitepaper to help with their research and use a University email address, this doesn’t mean the university is now a lead.
I often download content not because I have a particular ‘project’, but because I want to stay informed. I’m often then treated as a ‘warm lead’ simply by virtue of being a sales director.
Listen to your customers, prospects, the market and what your sales people are telling you, do not get stuck in the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ approach.
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer, when you are approached, perhaps called at home unexpectedly, do you welcome the call cold, do you engage, do you even pickup when you see it’s not a number you recognise, or do you as your prospects do, filter, block and avoid?
Chris: How would you respond to people who argue that these days you only need inbound marketing?
Ian Moyse: Marketing, advertising and traditional campaign methods are not increasing in success, far from it.
Today’s buyers are far smarter than ever before, they have more information at their fingertips and can gain peer influence easily through social networks and influencer networks.
I always ask my salespeople what they would do if they were to get no inbound leads and still had to hit their targets. If you have a sales development plan to feed your pipeline and view inbound leads as bonuses, you cannot go far wrong.
Relying on inbound leads alone is a dangerous game. What happens when the flow of leads slows down and your sales team has no strategy to get more?
Leaving the destiny and outcome of sales to marketing is a risky strategy I would suggest. Sales leaders need a cohesive strategy to drive sales ownership of delivery supplemented by marketing efforts.
Chris: What would be the first steps you would recommend to a business looking to transition away from the legacy cold approach?
Ian Moyse: Recognise that sales and marketing now need to use a wider variety of approaches in parallel to engage with prospective clients and that some ‘change’ will be necessary. Often there’s a resistance to change, people focus purely on the number of calls being made and on applying old approaches to new customer engagement methods.
Support the change from a leadership position and be willing to explore new ideas and approaches. Nothing dared, nothing gained.
For example, social selling is often feared and misunderstood and many sweep it aside, dismissing it as “a marketing thing” or “whimsical and not real selling”. Social selling does not replace normal sales methods, it enhances them, it’s another tool in the toolbox of selling approaches. It also falls firmly within the realms of sales people and isn’t simply a marketing owned initiative.
Ensure your leadership is trained in and understands new methods and is supportive of integrating them into the business. I have seen people in leadership positions push their sales teams to continue with legacy approaches in the social world, driving negative behaviours.
For example, a salesperson gets a contact at a target company to accept a LinkedIn connection invite and then their sales leadership push them to reach out and pitch or call them now! Do this too soon and the walls will go up again. Social selling requires a ‘softly, softly’ approach and can be used on multiple social platforms not just Linkedin.
If the business leadership don’t understand or appreciate new selling methods, then the business will not be successful in adopting them or attracting staff who are successful in the buyer-centric world we now live in.
Chris: What is the biggest mistake you see companies’ inside sales departments making?
Ian Moyse: Resting on their laurels, waiting for marketing to own the creation of leads and prospects and only relying on traditional methods of call rate KPIs. Outbound calling is only going to get harder. It’s cited that in 2007, it took an average of 3.68 calls to reach a prospect and today we’re at 8 attempts (source: Telenet and Ovation Sales Group).
When you factor in that 92% of buyers delete emails and voicemails from people they don’t know (Source: Social Centered Selling) you realise that the game has and will continue to change. We all have less time, more intrusions on that time and are being approached and marketed to by more companies than ever before, so it’s no wonder people’s barriers are up.
Recognising that inside sales and sales in general must change and adapt is important. Management needs to listen to its inside sales teams and the challenges they face and find new tools and methods to differentiate to the customer why they should speak to us over the droves of calls and cold outreaches they get, all promising to deliver things better, faster, cheaper. Customers are increasingly blasé, having heard it all before. How do you make your approach different and valuable enough to get their attention and time?
Chris: Where do you see the future of sales development and inside sales going?
Ian Moyse: We need to recognise that it’s a skilled profession and encourage our sales staff to see it as such. By registering for mailing lists like Top Sales World and following key sales educational accounts on twitter such as @SalesldMgmtAssn, @socialselling and @SellingPowerMag.
Also, encourage sales to take part in Associations such as the Institute of Sales & Marketing (ISMM) and Association of Professional Sales (APS) and support your sales people in awards such as the Women in Sales Awards.
Social selling is an area that helps warm up cold approaches and listening, sharing and engaging will start a conversation with the prospects that your competitors won’t reach. However, it is a long term approach, not a quick win, and needs to be run in parallel with other sales and marketing efforts.
You need to educate your sales people on how to socially sell, how to use tools like Linkedin and Twitter effectively, what other social tools you can use to make your selling smarter and the quirks of engaging using this approach.
I have engaged, met, and won new business using social selling over the past 3-4 years, where I would not have done using traditional methods, but this does NOT replace traditional good fundamental selling methodology.
I’d recommend reading ‘Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers’ by my friend Tim Hughes.
For more on generating sales qualified leads, check out our e-guide about winning referrals from your clients, The Sales Director’s Guide to Winning Referrals!