Inside sales professionals at high-tech companies will be generating an increasing percentage of total company sales over the next two years. That’s just one of the facts we confirmed in our recent survey-based research on inside sales.

Inside Sales Research Reveals Trends

Some interesting statistics from our study include:

  • In large tech companies today, inside sales makes up only 22 percent of headcount, but 40 percent of these large companies plan to increase their inside sales headcount by 2016.
  • Smaller high-tech companies and startups already generate 55 percent of sales from inside teams.
  • 50 percent of large companies and 95 percent of small companies surveyed classify inside sales reps as exempt from overtime

Inside sales teams use virtual selling skills — the phone, e-mail, social media and a wide range of sales engagement and productivity tools — to connect with customers and prospects. The inside sales team typically does not travel, but there are some that go on the road for certain customers or opportunities. These teams are usually known as “hybrid” (combination of inside and field sales) sales.

Inside Sales Helps Grow and Launch Companies

In high-tech, inside sales is hardly new. In the mid to late 1980’s, I started up and led OracleDirect when Oracle was an emerging start-up and few believed complex products could be sold without a face-to-face visit. Oracle’s inside sales organization, which helped fuel the company’s early rapid growth, is now a thriving global multibillion-dollar sales force.  Given our early focus on hiring high-potential talent, it is also one of the organizations that spawned some of today’s finest business leaders.

Inside Sales Works at All Sizes of Companies Across Industries

Many successful start-ups have followed this strategy, encouraged by their investors who expect inside or hybrid to drive revenue and market growth more effectively and profitably than traditional selling.

Larger companies are also expanding inside sales and other data and technology driven modern sales and marketing strategies to sell new products, reach new markets, and provide faster and more convenient service to prospects and customers.

Inside sales has become increasing more mainstream and proven in industries outside of technology, such as healthcare, financial services and education. Although our study focuses on best practices in high-tech, it reveals trends that can be applied in many businesses.

What the Rise of Inside Sales Means for Sales Leaders

As technology and other industries move more of their business toward inside sales models, sales leaders will have to rethink how they structure their organization and roles, determine job classifications and territories, recruit and motivate their sales forces, and provide the skills and tools to make them most productive and helpful to customers.

We’re making the executive summary of our survey findings available in a just-published e-book, which you can download here. The e-book offers more insights about the survey results and provides a look into the future of inside sales.  

About the Author

Photo_PaperShareAnneke Seley, @annekeseley on Twitter, was the twelfth employee at Oracle and Marc Benioff’s first manager at the company. In 1985, she created OracleDirect, Oracle’s global inside sales organization and was its first leader. This pioneering virtual selling team was the fastest growing  revenue generating engine in the company in spite of a very skeptical and sometimes hostile field sales team. Anneke now leads Reality Works Group, a modern sales strategy and implementation consultancy with unique expertise in global inside sales and social selling. She is the coauthor of Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology (J. Wiley 2008.)

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