Virtual sales is another word for Inside sales which originally came in the late 1980s in Britain as a process to do telemarketing rather going with complex B2B or B2C Sales processes. It can also be termed as ‘Remote Sales’.
The inside sales process is used to run the sales campaign working from the office using a telephone, email or web-based systems.
This model is often cost effective because:
- Unlike traditional salespeople going for a face-to-face client meeting, by sitting inside the office an inside sale rep can develop first level lead by briefing their product/s or service/s to prospect.
- Using Inside sales model within a day a sales rep can reach to multiple prospects spread across geography e.g. a web-based CRM tool can be used to send 100’s of email in a single point of time and simultaneously lead status can be tracked.
- The qualified leads can be passed by an inside sales rep to business development managers to close the deal.
- Has replaced almost the door to door sales concept
*As per the HBR blog review, many companies are ramping up their Inside sales team and investment, like-
- Astra Zeneca has replaced virtually all of its field sales force support for its mature brand Nexium with a 300-person inside sales team. The team provides for most doctors’ basic needs for samples and information at a substantially reduced cost.
- IBM has invested in social media training, toolkits and personalized digital pages to help its inside salespeople generate leads and manage account relationships. Early results include a 55% increase in Twitter followers and a significant increase in the number of high-quality inbound leads.
- SAP has refocused it’s large and growing inside sales team towards working with channel partners, rather than directly with customers, as part of a strategic initiative aimed at increasing channel sales to 40% of the company’s total sales by 2015.
There are companies (X) who want to outsource their sales activities only to focus on their core working areas. The companies (Y) offering inside sales and lead management services come here in the picture who offer them to grow their business, free up engaged resources thereby reducing operating cost, etc.
Figure: The Inside Sales process workflow:
Above is the pictorial representation of lead management and inside sales process. The process steps are:
- Company X is an outsourcing company – It runs a campaign to find the type of industry/geography etc. that would buy their products or services.
- Company Y will gather the requirements from company X and instruct their database development team to generate the data.
- Once the database is created, the team uploads the data in the web-based CRM tool.
- The Inside sales team prepares the artifacts like email scripts, calling scripts which would contain the company X product/services offerings and capabilities.
- The Company X representatives will verify these artifacts and then the Salespeople will be aligned with the inside salespeople.
- Prospecting Phase: Now the role of inside salespeople starts here, using CRM tool/telephone they can start sending artifacts to the prospects. They perform the following activities:-
a) Personalizing the email or telephone talk as per the prospect’s requirement
b) Sending artifacts about the company X details
c) Calling and explaining the prospect about the Company X product or service offerings
d) Identifying the need/pain areas of the prospects
e) Qualifying the lead as Cold/Warm/Hot
f) Setting up the 1st level of meeting with the Company X – Salespeople
7. Finally, in the review meeting with company X sales representatives, the leads are verified and passed for the next level of discussion.
8. Revenue realization by Company Y from Company X on the qualified leads.
Nowadays the inside sales is no longer a telemarketing process and cannot be considered just as a customer service approach. In recent years, a paradigm shift has been observed and the sales pitch target has moved from small business like (B2C) to big B2B and high-end B2C businesses. With newer technology in places like WebEx and video conferencing, the insides sales are definitely going to vouch for the frontline sales and making the entire sales process efficient and cost-effective.