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11 Smart Inside Sales Trends For 2011

_MG_6487_byTW_biggerBy Josiane Feigon, Founder & CEO, Telesmart Communications

Watch out — the Sales Sniper Pilots have landed. Inside sales organizations continue to grow at least 30% faster than their field counterparts. It’s no longer about having the best Salesforce — In 2011, it’s the lead development pilots who are revving up the sales engine.

So take your protein pills, put your helmet on and get ready to soar as the Sales Sniper Pilots take full ground control of their sales productivity, intelligence, and social tools and make a perfect landing on their target buyers. The following are eleven smart inside sales trends for 2011:

  1. Virtual Salespeople: As inside organizations continue to grow, the need for cheaper and hungrier talent will explode. The buzzword is no longer off-shore outsourcing but out-of-state virtual employees, which means managers must pick up speed on managing remotely and in a virtual world.

  2. Your Social Graph Is the New Job Security: Salespeople will become their company’s Chief Customer Officers, so their social footprint must expand. Social media will become standard operating procedure and an essential part of the entire sales cycle. Time to start designing KPIs that reward reps who have a high social graph and tools IQ.

  3. Social Surfing Beats Setting Appointments: More and more appointments will be cancelled due to unpredictable schedules and long time requests. So change tactics: The best way to secure a meeting is for prospects to receive a thumbs-up review from someone within their social web. It’s time for inside sales to surf this new social wave and engage with their friends, fans and followers.

  4. Customers Are Mad as Hell: Listen up! Busy prospects are skittish, independent, impatient, and tired of being held in a sales headlock. They will come to you when they’re ready and not before. Forget cold-calling — they will simply think it’s a rude interruption.

  5. The Hip and Hungry Boomer Reps: By all means refresh your inside sales talent in all categories — from lead gen, to inside sales, to hybrid — but don’t just look for college hires. Boomers are hip, hungry and they’re not retiring anytime soon. Plus, the 50+ crowd doesn’t party all night! They will gladly accept a position from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. without any travel.

  6. Hey Coach, Watch This: Managers must learn to coach and inspire, not embarrass and demotivate. Just because they “smiled and dialed” years ago doesn’t mean it’s still done the same way. Get your leadership skills in gear before your team members decides to take their resumes to the competition.

  7. Write On: Customer 2.0 wants to know who you are before they connect with you, which means that writing good content will be key to your survival. Comments on blog posts, engaging questions on LinkedIn discussion groups, inviting tweet streams, and killer subject lines will get their attention fast.

  8. Frugality Fatique: Corporations are already beginning to suffer from “frugality fatigue.” This year, many will finally dip into their savings pile and spend, making 2011 the year of the socially smart buyer. The SMB market is well positioned to deploy new trends, as long as they can see the ROI light at the end of the tunnel and enough friends within their circle of trust recommend or like you.

  9. Nurture and Engage: Customer 2.0 likes to self-educate, and they prefer to vary their learning methods. Inventory your valuable content, strategically align it throughout the sales cycle, and make it contagious so it turns into an inbound well qualified lead.

  10. Call Activity Gets a Makeover: Forget tracking 75 outbound calls per day and give your next call campaign a major makeover. The days of counting are gone. Its time to press refresh when it comes to metrics — and stop relying only on the phone!

  11. Data grows Up: Data is everywhere, so there’s no excuse for not knowing. Get smart about what to do with all that data, and put the sales intelligence and analytics at your fingertips to use!

Josiane Feigon is the is founder and CEO of TeleSmart Communications, and author of Smart Selling on the Phone and Online, the number one best-selling inside sales sourcebook, written just for inside sales teams and managers who must navigate the Sales 2.0 landscape. Her Cubicle Chronicles blog is voted among the top 25 sales blogs. Josiane can be reached at