Less than a decade ago, field sales teams were still norm. But the rise of technological advancements has led to a massive growth of inside sales teams. So much that inside sales recruiting now outpaces that of outside sales (learn the difference between inside sales and outside sales.) Now, rather than geographically spread teams of sales reps, companies often start with one sales office staffed with inside sales teams, then grow and expand as the business evolves.
Field reps typically handle the entire sales process. From prospecting, discovery, negotiation, and closing, as well as account management. By contrast, inside sales teams usually piece out each part of the sales process to specialized roles and departments.
Whether you are starting an entirely new inside sales team or restructuring your current team, the goal should be to create a scalable, efficient, high-performance group that will generate a steadily increasing stream of revenue. Here’s how to do it.
Inside sales teams are made up of several specialized sales roles. There are hybrid and other non-typical options, but the most common positions are:
Sales Development Reps (SDRs) – SDRs spend the majority of their time researching, prospecting, making cold calls, and qualifying potential customers using the phone, email, and social media. Inbound SDRs are a subsection of the sales development roles that typically only work with the inbound leads generated via marketing.
SDRs primarily focus on finding qualified sales opportunities and scheduling meetings and/or demos between them and the Account Executives on their team. Sales Development reps should use a standardized set of discovery questions to ID buyer needs and align them to your company’s capabilities.
Account Executives (AEs) – Are the sales reps who are responsible for closing deals. After they receive a qualified lead from the SDR, a sales rep will ID pain points, provide solutions that solve them, and pitch products and solutions. The AE will work with decision makers, provide demos, talk pricing, answer questions, and are ultimately responsible for generating revenue.
Often times, companies will create Enterprise Account Executive roles to handle deals with larger companies, as the sales cycle can be significantly longer, more complex, and requires greater focus and attention.
Customer Success Managers (CSMs) – These reps go by many different names, like Account Manager. Once an account manager signs a deal, the CSM ensures that clients are as happy and successful as possible. The will likely handle onboarding and setup, and ensure that each customer is making the most of your company’s products. This rep also handles upsells, retention, can field basic support questions, or pass them along to your support department.
Depending on the size and speed of your sales team, there are several different ways to structure it. One of the most critical interactions to consider is the one between your SDRs and AEs. Since SDRs essentially feed AEs, you must be sure that your development reps are creating a steady supply of qualified contacts. Larger teams with target-rich territories often elect to maintain a ratio of two SDRs to every AE. These three positions work within a fixed geographic territory.
Smaller teams may untether the SDR from the AE, but maintain the geographic limits on the AE. That way, SDRs can prospect any location, and each lead is fed to the Account Executive that is the area owner.
As your company grows and the sales team expands, you can even begin to divide territories by company size, industry, and product lines.
The way sales teams utilize a CSM varies. Sometimes they tie a Account Executive and Success Manager together, so the sales rep always passes to the same success rep. Other times, the success department is handled separately, and each success rep has their own territory. Sometimes, the success rep is assigned depending on the products the client is using.
The key is to ensure that CSMs have enough time and attention to devote personal attention to each customer, and to not overload them so they leave client requests behind.
Traditional sales territories were always geographically defined, but with inside sales teams they don’t necessarily have to be. The benefit of delineating them by geography or zip codes is that it provides each rep with a consistent time zone to work with, which facilitates the planning of their days. The challenge with doing so is that companies are not evenly distributed across zip codes through various offices and locations.
Other ways to approach territory planning is by customer type, industry, referral source and account size. When selecting the best territory rules for your specific business, try dividing current leads, prospects and customers into segments such as location, vertical or some other relevant trait.
Once you’ve established your sales territories, your SDRs and AEs will work together to find and generate deals within them. If you have more than one rep per territory, you can alternate or create a round-robin system to evenly distribute leads.
As your business grows continue to expand your team through the promotion of your AEs into leadership positions (if they so desire). Then, promote your top SDRs into AE roles, and hire new SDRs to replace them.
Once you have enough teams, you may have each one handle a different territory. They’ll be on the same page and, if working with a distinct vertical, will become more intimately familiar with that prospect type as well.
Designing your ultimate sales team in this manner will help you build a strong, continuous, and scalable revenue stream.