As SAAS software gains traction, software companies are making greater use of inside sales. According to Salesforce, inside sales is growing 300% faster than outside sales. With an increasing number of sales development representatives operating in the same market, it’s not surprising that inside sales is finding it more and more difficult to get through to prospects.
Some vendors take the bull by the horns by using Marketable Items and Account Specific Point Offerings to transform their messaging from product-out to business pain area-in mode whereas others leave it to their SDRs to stumble through the challenge.
In the latter scenario, it’s no unheard-of for SDRs to adopt immature and questionable tactics. According The Pathetic State of B2B Market and Sales Development Tactics, these include guilt trips, impatience, strong-arm shaming, feigned concern, and so on.
We’d never permit any of our SDRs to use the shady tactics described this article. We also agree with the author of this piece about the need for professionalism in Inside Sales (like in any other profession).
However, we felt that the follow on objections raised later in the article were somewhat pedantic in the context of inside sales in the B2B technology space. Any veteran sales or marketing leader would be able to easily rebut them with the following replies:
A1: When a SDR writes “reason we haven’t responded”, s/he is obviously doing a follow up. The first interaction is over by then. Therefore, this tactic doesn’t create the first impression.
Q2. Are these “hacking” techniques worth damaging a potential relationship?
A2: There’s no relationship worth talking about with a prospect who hasn’t replied to your emails or taken your calls. Ergo, your SDRs won’t damage anything by doing a bit of hacking.
Q3. Do these tactics identify the customers that are ready to engage? Or do they deter people from even wanting to talk?
A3. Yes and no. Prospects are tired of the same approach followed by all vendors. A slightly different approach does work more often than you’d think. A customer of ours in the USA told us that he receives at least five cold emails and two cold calls a day pitching some technology service or the other. He averred that he reads past the first paragraph of a cold email or listens past the first ten seconds of a cold call only if he sees / hears a new approach in them.
Inside Sales is a tough job. The function faces a few unique challenges that are not faced by any other function in a typical software products or services company viz. high rejection rates, need for twenty-something SDRs to connect with CxOs of FORTUNE 500 companies, need to work in night shifts, and so on. To that we shouldn’t be tacking on imaginary concerns. Instead, we should look for ways to unshackle inside sales and make it more aggressive. One way to do that is to look at the advantages enjoyed by inside sales such as ephemeral nature of funnel top interactions and fleeting memory of suspects and use them to empower SDRs to try out some unconventional tactics.
We must hasten to add that these concerns become real once a lead reaches the middle of the funnel and becomes an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). It would then be owned by field sales, account managers, and relationship managers and would need kid-gloves treatment. Unconventional tactics should be kept out at this stage. As Sabrina Ferraioli points out in B2B Phone Sales Tips: Beating the Voicemail Gatekeeper, “If you have 25 to 50 highly targeted, marketing qualified leads (MQL), inside sales can turn prospects into sales qualified leads (SQL). And if you turn even two or three SQLs into clients, you can have a substantial impact on your bottom line. So treat each one like gold.”
At the same time, we also need to unshackle SDRs working at the top of the funnel to be more aggressive.