Is the Inside Sales Position Becoming Obsolete?

on September 5, 2014

ObsoleteAs the world of marketing automation continues to grow, I have often wondered how this impacts the role of the inside sales person.

In the not-so-distant past, in corporate headquarters all across America, you would find inside sales representatives sitting in cubicles going through names on a call sheet trying to sell, upsell and cross-sell. It was a numbers game.

X amount of calls per day = Y amount of live contacts = Z amount of opportunities and if you were good, you would close some new sales.

For those companies who were fortunate enough to have incoming phone calls, these representatives would sit with a headset ready to answer and convince any interested buyer. With enough money spent on marketing you could generate calls through the Yellow Pages, billboards, TV and radio. The goal was to show just enough to make potential customers remember you or be interested enough to call you.

Back then, if you wanted to know about a company as a customer, you overcame your desire for anonymity and picked up the phone to talk to a live human being.

These days, the customer wants to remain anonymous as long as possible and fears the thought of talking with an inside sales representative. From the inside sales rep standpoint, chasing down leads that came in over the past two years and wearing out the same call sheets is tiring, frustrating and thankless. The root of the struggle is in an age-old sales mantra I was taught years ago that says:

“Customers hide if they aren’t interested or ready to buy…they rarely tell you no.”

This leads inside sales reps to expel maximum energy for little result.

Marketing Automation is solving this problem. Instead of calling the prior leads over and over again, or dumping those lists into an email marketing platform, automation software responds to the customers’ actions and interests as it becomes more intelligent with time.

For most qualified sales teams, their prospecting and sales path looks like this:

  • Get the lead or meet the prospect
  • Prospect isn’t ready to buy yet but asks you to stay in touch
  • Information entered into CRM tool
  • CRM’s task list becomes unmanageable and large
  • CRM tasks start to be ignored or done with little care
  • Customer eventually is deleted as a dead lead or opportunity

Does that sound familiar?

Marketing Automation reverses that by sending customized content to customers and monitoring their actions to that content. If a customer opens a link to a certain topic, it will automatically respond with a next step. It looks like this:

  • If Customer Opens Link, then actions A, B and C happen over the next several months
  • If Customer Does Not Open Link, then actions D, E and F happen over the next several months

The tool becomes more intelligent and efficient with time. This is something that an inside sales team cannot do since they don’t have the data. So one has to ask, is automation going to replace the inside sales team? Will corporations simply rely on marketing to generate leads, automation to farm those leads and outside sales reps to close those leads and land the big accounts?

What do you think?