Expanding and Driving Inside Sales in a Flexi-Working (Hybrid) Setting
Inside sales or hybrid sales is a way of handling sales remotely, and the job of inside sales individuals requires them to sell their organization’s products or services via phone, email, or other online channels. It involves taking the best of in-person and virtual sales to create a cohesive plan that can maximize sales efficiency and get better results by tailoring the experience to the preference of individual customers.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced millions globally to remain indoors for extended periods, and social distancing became a norm. This played the role of a catalyst in enhancing inside sales. Even with the pandemic situation easing, remote selling is not going away. It is here to stay, and what’s more, it is expected to be the most dominant sales strategy by 2024. This results from a significant shift in customer preferences and remote-first engagement.
According to some estimates, inside sales will drive up to 50% more revenue by enabling a broader and deeper engagement with customers and unlocking a more diverse talent pool than the more traditional models. Realizing there is no going back to the way things were just two or three years earlier, many B2B organizations globally are embracing a hybrid sales strategy if not shifting to a more hybrid sales force.
At Analytix, our sales model has always been hybrid. Here, the inside sales team tags with the US team to maximize our sales efficiency and results. The model has been highly effective for us as we have grown and expanded to different geographies and verticals over the years.
According to a survey by McKinsey & Company, only one in five customers hope to return to in- person sales. We can assume the rest are happy or comfortable with the hybrid sales model. Almost 80% of the buyers are more likely to consider a brand if the salesperson they are working with has an informative LinkedIn profile. Similarly, per the LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021, almost three in four buyers are more likely to consider a brand if the salesperson reaches out via LinkedIn.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global virtual events market size was valued at more than $114 billion in 2021. Given the massive jump in the adoption and popularity of such events, the market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4% from 2022 to 2030.
The challenge before marketers is how to expand and drive sales in a hybrid setting. From my experience of several years, I believe four key components make a successful hybrid sales strategy.
- The first component is committing to an omnichannel experience. Omni-channel means aligning every medium—the website, sales teams, internal systems, online channels, and others—to provide a smooth experience to The number of separate channels B2B customers use during their buying journey has increased from 7.5 in 2019 to 10 in 2021, leveraging channels such as mobile apps, video conferences, virtual events, phone, email, e-procurement portal, and more.
- The second component is shifting the sales team to hybrid This is needed to make the entire sales process efficient and involves equipping the team with various tools that can help them collaborate and communicate. Some of these tools could include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), sales automation, LinkedIn for social selling, etc., which are essential to ensure that the sales team can guide the customers properly. It is equally essential to provide a clear hybrid selling framework and expectations with the team to avoid disputes at a later stage. Attending and participating in various virtual events and conferences is also important to reach out to potential buyers.
- Improving inside sales capabilities is the third vital component of a successful hybrid sales This is important given how rapidly the world around us is changing. The sales team must be encouraged to develop a deep understanding of the products it is pitching to customers. A hybrid work environment and the lack of direct human touch can affect the sales team and leave it frustrated or isolated, especially if the going is tough. Businesses must invest in training sales teams to avoid any adverse impacts. We, as a company, have been following this diligently for a long time. We invest significantly in training our sales teams at top-notch training programs and sessions from some of the most sought-after sales leaders.
- The fourth component is integrating sales operations and marketing. With a hybrid sales model, it is essential to integrate technology and departments to form cohesive units to cater to customers. Adopting a single tech platform across various functions makes operations easier for the team and Clear key performance indicators and goals and setting specific expectations and targets are also required. The customer is always at the center of sales, which should also be the case.
To sum up, inside or hybrid sales is here to stay. It is for businesses to prepare themselves for a digital-first world that is interactive, focused, and multimedia. If businesses do the basics right, they are likely to succeed.
(The author is Mr. Jeet Doshi, Vice President of Business Development at Analytix Solutions and the views expressed in this article are his own)