AA-ISP Inside Sales Summit

Four hundred Inside Sales leaders attended the 2-day American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Summit last week in Dallas. After an inspiring opening by Bob Perkins, AA-ISP Founder and CEO, Jill Konrath got the audience roaring with her skit that deftly demonstrated the reality of today’s sales world, all the while making a very serious point.

The Summit is the only conference dedicated exclusively to Inside Sales Leadership. I soaked in the information presented at the breakout sessions that covered relevant topics such as,  how to lead a Gen Y team and drive results, effective on-boarding, compensation and incentive strateiges, account planning; and the art and science of online sales calls. Josiane Feigon, President of Tele-Smart led a panel on inside sales tools you can’t live without which gave me the opportunity to talk about my favorite topic!

The gathering offered Inside Sales leaders a rare opportunity to learn, share, and network with like-minded sales professionals. I flew back home to Sacramento, with a blizzard of thoughts and ideas whirring around in my head. With new terms like “sales stench” (when a cold call is so trite and annoying that the prospect can smell the spiel coming through the phone), to new ideas that-even if a little sarcastic-just might make a lot of sense (like using emoticons to indicate forecast probability).

Here are a few of the startling statistics that were mentioned:

– On avg, less than 1.5% of leads will close. (Anneke Seley)
– Decision to delete: 5-7 seconds for voicemail; 2.7 seconds for email (Jill Konrath)
– Prospects that never take a cold call or email – 92 percent (Michael Gerard)
– Fax is 7x more effective than email (Ken Krogue)
– Top 20% of reps close 60% of the biz: CSO insights

I took-home a smorgasbord-sized, mental doggy-bag, filled with ideas to consider. But there are five things that really stood out as essential tasks for every Inside Sales leader’s to-do list.

Evening out with my gal pals

1. Sign up for an AA-ISP membership
The association has un-matched resources and an un-equaled dedication to the field of Inside Sales. There is simply no other source or organization that provides the connections, insights, education, or opportunities for inside sales professionals. Their Summit events are truly “not to miss.” If you strive to master the management skills, the processes, or the technologies to be at the forefront of the inside sales movement, join the AA-ISP and get involved.

2.  Buy Jill Konrath’s book “SNAP Selling.”
Jill was the keynote speaker at the AA-ISP Summit. She’s a popular speaker, a savvy sales strategist, and the author of several best-selling sales books. Jill‘s latest book, Snap Selling, gives you an inside look at how your prospects actually make (or don’t make) decisions within the confines of one over-riding factor – today’s buyers are crazy-busy! How can you get them to take your call, how can you get them to consider change, and how can you help them choose your solution? All of these challenging tasks must be done against a back-drop of what Jill calls – and we have all experienced – the Frazzled Customer Syndrome. Her book is one book that you will dog-ear, highlight, and scribble notes on, but most importantly, you will refer to Snap Selling regularly and incorporate into your sales strategies.

3.  Explore sales tools that can significantly impact your success.
Whether you want to get 71% of your contracts signed within 1 Hour like Salesforce.com does by using DoguSign, or whether you want to triple the number of qualified leads you get like Biscom did by using TimeTrade, or whether you want to reduce the length of your sales cycle by 50% as Carrier IQ has done using Pipeline Manager, you owe it to yourself, your sales organization, and your company, to explore the many tools that can help you hit your numbers.

4.  Commit to continued learning.
With the Inside Sales industry (often referred to now, as “remote selling”) growing at the speed-of-light, more and more research is available to help sales leaders identify and adopt best practices. CSO Insights is the top research organization for the sales management profession and they, along with the AA-ISP will soon be releasing ground-breaking research to guide inside sales leaders in their quest to run best-in-class organizations. And firms like the Bridge GroupPhone WorksTele-Smart, and Vorsight each are recognized as go-to firms in the field of Inside Sales operations, best-practices, and training. There’s simply no excuse for not staying on top of leading research and industry trends or for not employing organizations such as those mentioned, to sharpen your team’s selling skills and improve their performance and job satisfaction.

5.  Prepare to participate.
The AA-ISP offers many opportunities to participate. Join a local chapter, attend an upcoming Inside Sales Front-line Conference in Dallas, San Francisco, or Atlanta, and join any one of their informative webinars. Whatever you do, don’t insulate yourself within the confines of your own organization. Get out and talk to peers. Share with, and learn from others.  You are part of a movement.

Not long ago, inside sales was perceived as the place where salespeople begin their career and learn the ropes. An inside salesperson typically aspired to move “up” to an outside or field sales position. Rarely did it work the other way around. Inside sales was, in two words, “less-than”.

Today, inside sales is an integral part of many organizations’ overall sales strategy. Customers accept and often prefer virtual communication through e-mail, phone and online meetings. Today, it’s not unheard of for inside sales reps to build and manage multi-million dollar accounts and to close six-figure sales without ever meeting their customer in person.

AA-ISP and the many people and firms mentioned in this article are leading the way. It will only get more exciting from here.