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The Second Coming of Inside Sales Representatives
Jon S. Richards
Here’s a question: Where do outside sales reps go when the concept of “outside” has been all but cancelled? What do field reps do when the field has been closed and roped off with bright yellow tape that reads “COVID-19.” Like it or not, this is the grim reality facing legions of sales professionals who have been sidelined during this global pandemic.
Outside reps who, until recently, have been almost wholly reliant on their ability to physically visit customers now have little or nowhere to go. The process of showing up to meet, greet, demo, and promote has been the backbone of many company’s sales teams for decades. And now that well-worn process is on hiatus, perhaps forever.
So, what now?
As always, businesses live or die by their ability to adapt. For reps who suddenly have a message to deliver but nowhere to go, the fallback has been the phone. But a lot has changed in the last ten years.
First, the bad news: buyers aren’t really answering their phones these days unless they want to talk to a rep. In some cases, fully eighty percent or more of outbound calls go unanswered or straight to voicemail. Bottom line, if a prospect or customer doesn’t want to talk to you, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it anymore.
Now for the good news: there is a group of sales professionals who have figured all of this out already. They’ve spent the last ten years developing strategies to communicate with clients and attract prospects without having to make hundreds of calls every day. Even better, there’s a good chance your outside reps already know them.
Enter The Inside Sales Rep
While outside reps typically get the glory, for years now B2B buyers have been building relationships with inside sales reps and CSRs long before an outside rep ever sets foot in the door. The skills they have developed and refined over the last decade have never been so crucial as they are now with businesses trying to operate in the midst of a global pandemic.
Before COVID-19, videoconferencing in general (and Zoom in particular) was a known, but not widely deployed, tool used primarily by inside reps. Now Zoom is a household name and literally everyone and their mothers are using it to communicate safely and effectively.
Inside reps are having to learn teleconferencing and other video-based tools to, among other things:
- Schedule live web meetings
- Create pre-recorded on-demand presentations (for when you can’t get live meetings)
- Curate product demo videos and training materials and deliver during the sales process
- Send video emails with personal messages
All of these tools and strategies have proven not only highly effective, but for many businesses they are absolutely essential to their sales development efforts. Emails with video typically get between eighty to ninety percent more opens than emails with only text and/or images.
The New Normal
So what’s the takeaway? Outside reps that are sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to return to “normal” may end up waiting themselves out of a job. The COVID-19 pandemic has simply super-accelerated a trend that many companies have already been following for several years.
Now more than ever companies are looking for ways to cut costs, reduce or eliminate the need for expensive real estate, and reduce the amount of travel required to make a sale. As most of us have seen, the barriers for entry into video communication and production are exceptionally low, to the point of being negligible in many cases.
Getting your team, both inside and outside reps together, comfortable with creating meaningful video content from their desks will transform the way they sell and add value to your prospects and customers. Video also increases engagement and often improves customer relationships.
There may or may not be a day down the road when things go back to “normal”, but for now everyone in sales is an inside sales rep, and should be leveraging video in their daily communications if they want to succeed.
“In a remote business world, video is the next best thing to being there in person. It’s your greatest opportunity to stand out from the digital noise, to build personal rapport, and to earn the trust of your buyers,” says Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing at Vidyard, a leading provider of video messaging and video hosting solutions for business.
“Sellers and marketers that are using video to share their messages and showcase their solutions are consistently seeing higher engagement rates, shorter deal cycles, and more efficient sales processes. Video is simply the most effective way to clearly explain new ideas and to build human relationships at scale.”
Recommended Tools for Remote Selling
Zoom – Free for the first 40 min has been extended to 1 hour due to COVID-19 up to 19.00 a month
WebCam – you can start with any 1080P or higher – but i recommend spending the extra for a 4K like the Logitech Brio
I highly recommend the SAMSON Go Mic Mobile for two primary reasons.
- The noise cancelation and its ability to connect to a computer, Apple or Android device for on locations or remote recording.
- It’s scalable for adding an additional mic for situations like interviews & testimonials.
Lighting Ring Light – $49.00
Simple and inexpensive- but effective. Great for mounting on a tripod or on your monitor. USB connection and a dimmer switch for great lighting control
Platform – Vidyard – Free – 300.00 mo
Vidyard is my favorite right now for 3 reasons –
- They have desktop recording from an easy access Chrome Extension that is simple and straightforward
- They have a mobile device app for Iphone that works great and the Android release this year is very nice!
- They have a free model to get started but I highly recommend the Pro version as the ROI is easy to justify.
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