Recipe for Success, in Inside Sales

Inside Sales, an Overview:

Inside Sales, Tele-sales, B2B telemarketing, lead generation…it doesn’t matter what you call it, it is one of the most effective forms of selling products and services in the world. To be successful in telesales you need to be focused on your objectives, in control of your calls, work to your plan. If you put forward a strong and sincere effort and if you follow the guidelines contained in this work you will be successful!

Lets take a brief look at what telesales is and what it is used by virtually every company in every industry in the developed world.

In 1954 the Ford Motor company was preparing to roll out their new vehicle line and a a clever sales manager thought that it might be a good idea to contact people who owned a 1949 Ford product to see if they would like to look at the new Fords. So they called the customers and invited them to the showroom and a new form of marketing was born. Telemarketing. Telemarketing can be divided into two broad categories; Inbound and Outbound. Inbound is what happens in the Customer Service Center (CSC), where we answer customers calls. Outbound can be divided into two categories also; Consumer and B2B. Consumer telemarketing is all of those wonderful calls we get during dinner, while in the bath or just generally at a bad time and often with an uninteresting offer. That’s why we now have a Do Not Call List with 70 million names on it. B2B or Business-to-Business is the business side of outbound telemarketing. That is what inside sales is, it is a form of B2B telemarketing. Companies use B2B calling to;

• Sell- products, services, information,
• Qualify- Leads, prospects, x dates etc.
• Generate- Leads, appointments for field sales forces

In most organizations the role of Inside Sales is two fold; firstly to generate sales leads for a field sales force and secondly to complete sales over the phone.

So why are companies with an outside sales force also managing some accounts via the telephone? Well the answer is very straightforward;

An average sales call today costs a company approximately $400 and on average a Sales rep can make about 7 calls per day. An inside Sales call costs less than $10 per call and on average an inside rep can make about 45 calls per day. From this we can see that it is certainly a lower cost to service an account by phone. Of course the conversion rate or the percentage of people who buy is also lower in a telesales environment than in face to face selling. Research conducted by The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. (TRG) shows that the conversion rate for face to face selling across a broad range of industries is 40% while the telesales conversion rate is 10%. If we look at the cost of a sales call, the conversion rate for face to face and the cost and conversion rate of Inside or Telesales we see that the cost per sale for face to face is $1,000 and the cost per sale for inside sales is $60.33. From this we can see that it doesn’t make sense to use face to face sales to sell accounts that generate less than $1,000 per order. Many organizations employ Inside Sales to complete ‘Full Account Management’ for accounts that fall below their face to face cost per sale level.

The economics of Inside Sales can be very appealing and this is why many companies employ Inside Sales in support of their field sales organization. The lower cost per contact means that sales opportunities can be qualified and appointments set by an Inside Sales group at a far lower cost than can be achieved by the Field. In addition, by focusing the efforts of the outside field force on qualified sales opportunities serves to increase the effectiveness of the field force resulting in more overall sales at a lower cost per sale.

Make no mistake however Inside Sales is a sales role and in some ways it can be even more challenging than field selling. Decision makers (DM’s) (the people we want to speak to) in any business get many calls per week looking to sell them something. The DM’s also may be engaged in other activities while speaking to us over the phone; they could have someone standing in front of them or be reading the newspaper for all we know. This doesn’t happen if a field rep is standing in front of them. If you are in a face to face meeting you can see how the other person is reacting to what you say, you can pick up on the body language and you can even gain an insight into the type of person they based on what you see in their office, pictures, golf stuff, stuffed fish etc.

So the role of working on the phones can be challenging, but there are some simple rules that can help to make you more effective and successful in your role. This training outline will equip you with the skills and knowledge to be successful.

A Recipe for Success:
What is a recipe? Well it can be defined as “a set of instructions that when followed precisely will deliver a known and expected result.” If you want to bake a cake you follow the recipe…the correct pan, so much flour, x number of eggs, y amount of yeast, chocolate, proper baking temperature and a specified amount of time. If you have followed the directions for the recipe correctly you will have cake. If you don’t follow the recipe precisely your results will vary from marginal to completely unsatisfactory.

Inside Sales can be viewed as a process that lends itself to a recipe for success as well. If you follow the directions exactly, you will be successful, you will have cake!

We all know people are great cooks and bakers, they don’t follow a recipe they use a ‘pinch of this’ and a ‘dash of that’. They create fantastic and tasty results, without a measuring cup in sight. They appear to be successful without a recipe. In truth they have become experts at baking, they started with a recipe and they have made it second nature (no need for measuring ingredients) and they have also learned to improvise and adjust to their environment, not enough sugar, let’s use some apples instead. You can get to this level of performance over time as your skills and knowledge improve eventually the recipe will be second nature to you as well. But we must walk before we can run and we all have to start with a recipe. This program is your ‘Recipe for Success’.

Like any great chef, we need the right environment to be successful. The best baker in the world would be challenged in baking a great cake over a campfire instead of the oven they are familiar with. Likewise we will be more successful operating in a controlled environment where we know what to expect than to try to operate in a less than ideal environment. It is really about following our recipe and optimizing our chance of success.

In our particular case our optimal environment requires;

• A work station,
• A telephone,
• A list of people to call,
• The ability to focus on our work,
• No interruptions,
• The ability to work uninterrupted for a least a few hours,
• A positive attitude,
• Knowledge of our products/services,
• Comfort and understanding of our Recipe,

Everyone wants to be successful, but at times we act like this isn’t the case. We know that if we don’t make calls we won’t succeed. But at times we are tempted (and may succumb) to other ‘busy’ work rather than make our dials. There is a mathematical basis for success in inside sales. Thomas Jefferson said “The harder I work the luckier I become” and this is true in inside sales as well. We need to make speak to prospects to set appointment, and qualify leads. A cake won’t cook properly at 100 degrees if it is supposed to be cooked at 400 degrees. An inside sales rep will not be successful with 10 dials per hour if they should be at 30. Once again it is not rocket science but rather simply following our recipe.

So to be successful we need to be at our desk and fully prepared to make our calls each morning, we need to work without interruptions and distractions and well need to have a positive frame of mind. Remember we have a right to do our job. We are not selling a product or service that people don’t want. On the contrary we are selling a service that everyone needs. We have thousands of customers who needs and appreciate our service and products. We are bringing our prospects something of value, the opportunity to have their need satisfied and serviced by a profession, successful company. We need to know this on every call.

We also need to remember that we are the experts; we add value to the discussions because we share our knowledge and expertise with our prospects and clients that make their life easier and ensure that they get the products/services they need.

But even if we have the all these without a roadmap of where we are going we cannot get there. A recipe will not work if you don’t follow the directions properly and in sequence. You cannot bake the ingredients separately and expect to have cake. Similarly you cannot be successful in inside sales without knowing and following the directions.

Success is a Formula

Our role is to place calls and help the company generate sales. We do this in a three primary ways;

• We place outbound calls to suspects and qualify them. Once qualifies we will manage the prospect and try to close or we forward qualified leads (prospects) the prospect onto the outside sales force to manage and close,
• We will try to save accounts that are considering (or even have decided) leaving us,
• We will handle incoming Sales calls directed to us by the Call Center.

Really however our primary role is to place outbound calls and qualify and sell prospects. The Save or retention calls will represent an increasingly smaller segment of calls due both to the implementation of Service Standards and due to improved effectiveness in the Customer Service Call Center. The incoming calls from the call center will decline due to additional sales training they are receiving and an expectation that they can close the sale the vast majority of the time.

Inside Sales is about selling, it is proactive and is characterized by ‘dialling for dollars’, this activity also known as telesales or outbound telemarketing has been around for 50 years and over the years the following truisms have emerged;

1. To be successful you need to have a plan (a recipe),
2. You need to follow the plan (the directions),
3. You need hone and refine your skills (training, coaching and role-playing),

Calling customers is successful because it works. In a city like Toronto every day there are companies out there who are considering changing their supplier. They may not do it today, as they get caught up in their jobs and other activities. Research has shown that at any given time 10% of any company’s customer will consider defecting. What this means to us is if we can get through to the right person we can have an opportunity to take this business. We can also improve our odds by being prepared; having a call plan (our directions) for the call, having a goal for the call, asking probing questions that will improve our knowledge of the prospect, listening to what the prospect has to say (many prospects will tell you how to sell them.

Success in Inside sales isn’t luck, it is hard work and a good plan…a little luck won’t hurt but it won’t make you a success over the long term.

Recipe Directions – Our Plan
Every sales call you make will have the same components as illustrated by the following flow chart;

(Insert outbound call Flow chart)

The process is simple…Qualify, Confirm, Present, Close, Objection Handling, Close. That’s it, that’s all there is too it!

Of course it is not just following the flow that will make you successful, remember our recipe, we need to know how to follow the directions…we can’t broil when we should bake or it won’t turn out as we expect.

Let’s look at each of the major components of the call to understand how we follow the directions;

This is our initial contact with the prospect company. The person who answers the phone can either assist us or confound us. Our objective to get past this person to get to the decision maker and we can’t do that without their help. The easiest way to do this is to ask. So the script is “Good Morning, My name is_______ and I am calling from ABC Inc., could you please tell who looks after ___________ at XYZ Company?”

The key now is to pause and listen to the response. Don’t keep talking or you will confuse your request. Now the greeter will likely give you the name of the individual at which point you ask to speak to them. If they are not available then ask the greeter if you can leave a message. Use your Voice Mail Script for the message regardless of whether you have voice mail or not.

Now what do you do if the greeter asks questions of you instead of giving you the decision maker’s name? Try to answer the question honesty and frankly…
Greeter- “May I ask what this in regards to?”
You- “ABC is one of the largest __________companies in California and I want to speak to the person at XYZ Inc. who makes the decisions regarding __________ because I believe that XYZ can benefit from our services and capabilities”

You have now answered the question; now wait for the greeter to respond.

One of the most common mistakes anyone in sales can make is to present and try to sell to someone other than the decision maker. Trying to sell to anyone else just doesn’t make sense. If the person isn’t the decision maker then we will not get a sale. So it is important to qualify the prospect and confirm they have this responsibility. The best way to do this is by asking the question directly when you first speak to the person the greeter has referred you to. “Good morning Mr__________________. My name is ____________ and I am calling from ABC Inc… I understand that you are responsible for all decisions related to ___________ at XYZ Inc. Is that correct?”

Now one of two things will happen. Either they are the decision maker or they are not. If they are the decision maker then we continue on to the Presentation. If they are not the decision maker we want to ask them for their assistance…”I sorry, who would be responsible for decisions regarding _____________ at XYZ?”

The contact will likely give you another name at this point and you should ask if the contact can transfer you to that person or their voice mail. We now need to repeat this process from the beginning and continue until we get a Yes answer from the contact.

The presentation or pitch is the crux of the sales call. This is our commercial; this is where we have to make compelling statements about our company to secure our prospects’ interest. Generally the presentation is a reflection of our Power Statement.

“Mr.________________ ABC Inc. is the largest __________companies in California and our size give us incredible economies of scale and at the same time strict safety procedures. These two features give you the benefit of competitive rates and peace of mind.”


“Mr.___________ ABC has grown and succeeded over the past X years because we consistently meet out customers needs, today we serve customer like Ford, GM, Wal-Mart.”

Now at this point the prospect may ask a question or make a statement but generally they will allow you to move to the Close. Any questions that are asked should be answered honestly and frankly and then you should switch back to a version of your presentation so that you can get to the Close.

No sale occurs until somebody buys something and we cannot succeed without asking for the order. Now our objective in making calls maybe to secure an order or it maybe to secure an appointment for a field rep. Regardless of the specific objective we need to close to get to the next stage. We need a “Yes” at this point to be successful. The Close is asking for the “Yes”.

“I believe that we can really assist XYZ Inc. to better manage your ____________ needs and I would like to set up an appointment for your representative REP NAME to come by, assess your requirements and show you what we can do. Would next Tuesday or Wednesday be better for you?”

It is critical at this point that you do not say another word until the prospect has answered. Don’t be concerned if there is a long pause we need to get to “Yes” so we need to wait for an answer.

The answer you will get will either be positive; “Yes say about 2:30 on Tuesday would be best for me.” Or you will get a question or an Objection. We will deal with the question response here and Objection Handling in the next section.

If the prospect asks a question this is a positive sign, they are interested! Listen to the question and if you are unclear what they are asking the repeat the question back to them and ask for clarification. Then you can answer the question and end your response with another Close.

Prospect-“Well how much is a 3 yard bin?”
You- “Well Mr/s__________________ the rates depend on a number of variables such as 1, 2 and 3, REP NAME will have all of that information when he/she meets with you. Are mornings or afternoons usually better for you?”

Again it is critical that you wait for a response. If the prospect responds to you Close question then it is just a matter of coordinating calendars, you will be setting up the appointment. You are also likely at this point to hear an Objection.

An Objection is also a buying signal. The prospect is telling you what is biggest concern is. This is an opportunity to provide information that will eliminate this concern and with this barrier out of the way we can then proceed to a “YES”.

Objections are likely the single most important element of any sales call. Your ability to handle and respond to objections will determine the degree of success you will have in sales. Therefore it is critical that you know and understand the objections and how best to respond to them.

There are only 4 Objections:

1. Too Busy/No Time- What they are saying is that what you are offering is not important enough for them to spend any time considering it. You need to show them the value and benefits that they will receive. Key Point – You haven’t shown value of your product or service.

2. We use another vendor- What they are saying is that you haven’t shown them any reason to switch. You need to show them how you are different and the value and benefits they will receive from you due to these differentiators. Key Point – You haven’t shown you are different/better.

3. Too Expensive- What they are saying is that you haven’t shown them why they should spend the money with you. All companies have money and will change their spending plans when there is a compelling reason to do so. Key Point – You haven’t shown ‘value for the money’.

4. No Need- What they are saying is that they don’t use or have any need for your product. You may know this to be false. You need to show them the benefit and value they will derive from using your product//service. Key Point – You haven’t shown benefits and value.

The solution to any objection is in the Key Point line, this tells you how to overcome all of these objections.

Points to Ponder:

Decision makers get many, perhaps hundreds of calls per week purporting to solve all their problems. They are programmed to say “no”. It will be their first reaction, expect it. Also expect to hear the following ‘false’ objections:

1. “Not interested” – This is not an objection, it is just (usually) the fastest way off the phone. The ‘real’ objection will be one of the 4 above. Key Point – You must push through “Not Interested” to get to the ‘real’ objection if you want to have any hope of overcoming it.

2. “I need to talk to so and so about this” – This is not an objection, this simply points out that you have been presenting to someone who is not the ‘decision maker’. Ideally you want to only present to the ’decision-maker’, however some people may give you the impression that they are the ‘decision maker’ when in fact they are influencers. If your relationship with this influencer is positive then they should be able to get you in front of the ‘decision maker’. Key Point– Never entrust or empower anyone else to do your job, they don’t know your product as well as you and they are not committed to make it happen!

3. “Your product/service is inferior” – Unless your product/service is really inferior then you know it is not a real objection, but rather a lack of knowledge regarding your products/services. Key Point– If you believe your product is inferior then you will fail at selling this (or any other prospect).

Expect that the prospect will employ a number of objections. Just because it is one of the 4 Objections doesn’t mean it is the real obstacle or objection, it just means it could be. Objections presented may appear as either ‘real’ or ‘false’, you need to address each one before you can uncover the ‘real’ objection.

So if we go back to our example at company XYZ, Inc. we might hear…

PROSPECT- “Well I am dealing with COMPETITOR and they are meeting my needs, so I don’t think a meeting will accomplish anything”

This we can see is a Competitor Objection. We need to show them a reason why they should consider switching. It is important when responding to a Competitor Objection that we do not ‘run down’ the competitor. We do this for a number of reasons;

1. We don’t know what the prospects’ relationship is with the Competitor (His brother in-law may run the company),
2. We will look unprofessional if we say negative things about the Competitor,
3. We may end up in a discussion about the competitor rather than talking about our company!

What we do want to do is to provide information that will make the prospect want to meet with our Rep even though they are dealing with a Competitor. Our response then to the Objection might be…

“XYZ is the choice of more companies in the LA area than any other _________, we carry third party insurance that protects our customers from legal liability that many of our competitors don’t carry. That can mean that you could be open to legal liability. How is next Tuesday at 2:30 to meet with REP?”

In handling objections always return to the Close once you have answered the Objection. Handle two Objection on any call if the prospect brings up a third Objection, then they are likely just doing so to avoid saying yes, to continue to handle these will not end in a “Yes”, so thank the prospect for his/her time tell them you will follow up with them in a few weeks/months (based upon the standard cycle time).

Congratulations you got to “Yes”, the prospect has agreed to meet with REP next Tuesday at 2:30. Confirm the meeting location (customers may have more than one location) and time, thank you prospect for their time and update the system with call/appointment information and you have completed the call.

Now you can begin the process all over again and make your next call.

Follow your plan, the recipe and the directions and you will be successful…you will get to “Yes”.

Voice Mail:
Unfortunately not every prospect we speak with will be sitting and waiting to speak with us. As a result we will get voice mail, frequently. Voice mail provides an opportunity for us to leave a positive message about our company and our services. A good voice mail message will increase the likelihood that the prospect will take our call the next time we call.

People often ask if we should leave call back numbers and generally this is not a good idea. The role of Inside Sales is to place calls not to receive them. If the prospect does call us then we are likely to be on an outbound call, so we won’t speak with them. The alternative is to make fewer outbound calls to increase our availability for returned calls. This simply reduces the effectiveness of the team and will fail to meet the performance targets that the company has set. It is better to suggest that we will call them back or in the lead generation scenario to offer the SALES REP phone number.

The voice mail script should include all of the elements of a call presented in a brief and logical flow. In the scenario we have been using this could look like this;

“Hello Mr/s___________this is AGENT NAME from ABC Inc. I am calling you today because I understand that you are the person responsible for ________ and _______decisions at XYZ, Inc. As you may know ABC is the largest ________companies in California and we believe that we can offer superior service. REP NAME has asked me to call you to set up a brief meeting to discuss how we can assist XYZ, Inc. I will give you a call back later this week to discuss or if you prefer you can call REP NAME direct at 562-555-1212. Thank you and have a good day”

Inside Sales is effective when everyone follows the recipe and directions. An Inside Sales team is expected to be on the ‘phones’ for 50 minutes each hour. This is what is expected by management. In some companies staff can be on the ‘phones’ 55 or more minutes per hour.

So how does this time break down? Well that is highly dependant on a number of factors;

• The level of the prospects we are targeting, the more senior the individual the less likely they are to be available.
• The prevalence of voice mail. Most companies today employ voice mail systems; this reduces the calls that are answered directly by prospects (and everyone else).

In a typical Inside Sales operation where the completed calls (those where the agent speaks to a confirmed mid level decision-maker and gains a Yes or No response) are 4 minutes in length we would expect 5-6 completed calls each hour, 40 dials per hour and voice mails left for 7-8 prospects.

Sample Script:
Employing the approach outlined in this training guide the following is the sample script.

“Good Morning, My name is_______ and I am calling from ABC Inc. could you please tell who looks after Service Line 1 at XYZ Company?”

“Good morning Mr__________________. My name is ____________ and I am calling from ABC Inc. I understand that you are responsible for all decisions related Service Line 1 & 2 at XYZ Inc. Is that correct?”


“Mr._______________,_ABC is the largest Service Line 1 provider in California and our size give us incredible economies of scale and at the same time strict safety procedures. These two features give you the benefit of competitive rates and peace of mind.”

“I believe that we can really assist XYZ Inc. to better manage your Service Requirement needs and I would like to set up an appointment for your representative REP NAME to come by, assess your requirements and show you what we can do. Would next Tuesday or Wednesday be better for you?”

Wrap Up:
“Great Mr.____________ I will have REP meet you at your location at 123 Main Street next Tuesday the 27th at 2:30 pm. Thank you for your time today. Good-bye.”


This guide has presented a sample script which you can employ, however the objective is not to ‘read’ something to the prospect, but rather to have a guided conversation with them which follows the process and hits all of the correct steps in the correct sequence. You may start with the sample script if you wish, but you should move to your own words as soon as you are comfortable doing so.

Follow the recipe and directions and you will succeed.

Let us know what you think of this article or any suggestions you have for future issues by email at
[email protected].

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