Inside sales – 3 research findings for improving B2B performance

Inside sales

Inside sales

Recently we published a blog on the emerging importance of inside sales in the B2B market.  As noted in that blog, this trend is driven by a number of factors including the pressure for profitability and the belief that buyers are more accepting of remote selling.

Since we received a number of comments, we thought a further exploration of the topic was warranted.  We came across an interesting research study by Software Advice that examined the performance of their inside sales team – analyzing data collected from over 6,000,000 visitors to their web site.  Although the study was based on a data set from only one company, we thought the results would be a good starting point for other companies that manage inside sales teams that respond to leads generated on the web.

Key Takeaways.   The study focused on the specific best practices for converting leads generated from the website.

  • Quickness Matters.  If a buyer completed a form requesting specific information such as a price quote or product demo, the chance of qualifying the buyer (in the study the inside sales team qualified buyers via a telephone needs analysis) drops each second you wait. The results were telling.  If they called within 5 seconds, the buyer was qualified at a 30 percent rate above the average qualification rate.

It is important, however, to take into account the specific buyer request – all buyer behavior is not equal.  As Derek Singleton of Software Advice noted, “Of course, it’s also important to understand that not every buyer deserves a call right away. If a buyer contacts you indirectly—by completing a form to download a whitepaper, access video content, or view other gated material – then you should consider nurturing the lead. As inside sales and marketing professionals continue to compete for the attention of B2B buyers on the Web, understanding their specific online behavior will be critical to success.”

  • Activity Varies by Day of the Week.  As others have noted, Mondays and Fridays had the lowest buyer activity.  What was particularly interesting in this data set was the fact that requests for information were twice as great on Tuesday through Thursday.  So in this case it was more than a little difference.  If this finding were generalizable it would impact capacity planning for sales team availability.
  • Time of Day Matters, Too.  In the study more activity took place in the morning than the afternoon.  Traffic was highest just before and during lunchtime for the buyers.

Summary.  As is always the case one should precede with caution drawing conclusions based on a single data set; however since more and more companies are using inside sales teams for B2B sales and employing digital marketing techniques we thought the Software Advice study results would be a good thought starter for others.

As a correlated point, it is interesting to note that other studies indicate a clear need for improvement when it comes to mastering inside sales.  For example, a study of 115 companies using inside sales by the Bridge Group noted that 42% of the respondents reported less than 50% of their inside reps at quota and only 4% had greater than 80% of their reps at quota.

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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