How inside sales drives lead generation

Part 2 of this series continuing on from
The importance of sales enablement for inside sales teams

How inside sales drives lead generation and could provide more value than business development for SMEs

The inside sales function can help bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs with the right onboarding process and agreement between both marketing and sales.  We see this as a combined function with, ideally, common budget allocated between the two departments. Our recommendation is to engage inside sales specialists who understand your market and are able to scale based on demand.

For many SMEs and growing businesses the process of hiring strong and experienced BDMs to generate new business isn’t always possible within initial budget considerations. Depending on the sales and marketing go-to-market strategy, the role inside sales plays will have significant impact on marketing activities. You can drive top of funnel leads through multiple channels, however often there is little resource allocated to follow up leads and nurture them. To increase sales pipeline generation and the ability to accelerate sales revenue targets requires increasing sales productivity and marketing aligned discussions.

Based on the buyer’s journey and focussing on sales enablement, more budget should be invested in marketing in ways that support sales. Part of the justification to consider is that the ‘people’ element of inside sales (in-house or contracted) can take less time to payback ROI and also shorten the sales cycle based on sales enablement productivity goals than just on technology automation alone.

Sales Enablement Productivity Guide.jpg

Source: Miller Heiman Group Report 

Choosing an outsourced telemarketing campaign that may not drive qualified pipeline opportunities or contribute to the required ROI required can be risky, as can be hiring the wrong BDM. Your brand reputation could be affected with negative perception from prospective organisations receiving cold calls that can have a future impact. While there is always risk involved in making these choices, it is important to carefully consider any and all relevant factors and plan to help to mitigate this risk, and to increase your success.

Many traditional marketing agencies offering guaranteed cost per lead can prove to be of low value, unless the metrics can be clearly measurable and aligned to sales impact. Caller agent behaviour changes depending on the reward and their skill levels.  A minimum standard BANT method needs to be used but a level of consultative or trusted advisor approach with relevant subject matter and communication skills will increase the lead qualification quality. The only way this can be demonstrated is having the sales and marketing function sit in the same room first and agree on the common objectives with a sales enablement process.

Step One: To agree on alignment with the correct sales targeting and marketing activity

Step Two: Once the clear requirements and goals are highlighted through a structured workshop, the level of investment can be agreed towards joint accountable and responsible KPIs first.

The alignment process looks like this as an example:


Source: Alchemise Consulting Sales Enablement Process

Why the strong focus on inside sales function for lead generation?

An Inside Sales Role function provides:

  • Value for money and accelerated sales pipeline development in line with sales and marketing aligned goals.
  • Opportunity to nurture a good resource with sales and marketing skills development.
  • The domain expertise and skills can be nurtured and talented individuals can be progressed into BDE or BDM role under senior experienced managers which helps with talent retention and promotion.

There are no guarantees or security from a traditional recruitment process in hiring full time sales teams. For small companies with limited hiring experience, this cashflow outlay can prove very hit and miss, and risky at the least. Both direct and indirect costs are at risk if the wrong hiring choices are made, often with perfomance monitoring throughout a six month probation period.

The employment market is shifting to an outcome-based model and the certainty of fixed costs and measurable tangible results. Looking at the accounting and legal industries for example, some of the mid-tier firms are slowly shifting from time-based to value/outcome-based services. However the cost for quality hired resources needs a good talent acquisition plan and budget.

Considering a shared risk model in the professional services helps you shift to deliver value added services and demonstrate a willingness to differentiate in the marketplace and to your clients.

Gaining access to an experienced sales team on demand provides both a skill and budget buffer during peaks and troughs as properly marketing qualified leads can be generated through multiple channels and nurtured. The provision of consistently qualified leads and communication from marketing will also offer more confidence to the sales team.

Imagine the focus on sales teams with aggressive targets for Q4 and then there is no pipeline for Q1… Does this scenario sound familiar? An inside sales presence to complement your internal sales team can help solve this all-too-common challenge.

The value of inside sales as a service can fill the gap in building a real sales pipeline, so having access on demand can help drive up prospective client engagement and opportunities.

I would hire an inside sales resource on demand rather than paying for lower level telesales resources who do not have the required expertise in the industry. What I believe brings success is not only the right experience but also the passionate attitude and personality suited to the client and part of the wider team.

At Alchemise, we strongly focus on not only nurturing leads but also our inside sales team management focus depending on the type of campaign and expertise required.

Suggested inside sales metrics

The primary metric to consider is Contacts to Conversions that is driven by sales pipeline and revenue generation as a truer measure of success.

Common digital marketing metrics such as content impressions, web visits and content downloads at the top of funnel typically becomes an MQL. This often frustrates sales as the time and cost of these measures doesn’t have an aligned correlation with sales revenue and pipeline/ opportunities generated.

We would like to challenge the conventional model with one that aligns sales and marketing with an inside sales function.

In closing…

If you want to differentiate your organisation with a more effective aligned sales and marketing growth strategy to generate higher ROI on your marketing investment, sales enablement and inside sales is the way forward. The attention should be directing focus towards the middle and bottom of funnel conversation or engaging a marketing consultancy which appreciates both sales and marketing alignment and not just generating top of funnel leads.

Unlike a telemarketing “one size fits all” guaranteed cost per lead model commonly delivering less than 1% lead conversion, a different approach is to look at the detailed setup and preparation first. A detailed process aligned to the business strategy to increase conversion rates typically establishes a benchmark after the first 3 months using an rolling average lead indicator.

If you can appreciate the delivery process with subject matter experts from the inside sales resources and a quality over quality approach, this is also good indicator that you have found a good fit of who to work with.

Come and arrange an obligation free discussion with Alchemise Consulting and our experience with a holistic, people, process and systems approach or find out about our Inside Sales as a Service.

Inside sales teams and the importance of sales enablement

This article has been written to open up some strategic thinking and discussion for business owners, as well as sales and marketing managers in SMEs or corporate businesses, on different ways to increase lead generation success with inside sales.

At an event we were a part of last year, it was great to hear that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged that marketing supports sales, and that successful lead generation cannot be achieved with just marketing automation and digital content alone.

The challenge in lead generation and conversion efforts between marketing and sales departments are still causing inconsistent measurement of ROI and success.

It’s becoming even more important with the need for both sales and marketing functions to complement, align and integrate with each other and adopting a “full funnel” top-down view. So how can you start that process and get a business to commit to a shift in mindset?


Sales Enablement

The term sales enablement comes to mind and applying the real meaning of this requires the focus of the inside sales role and joint ownership between marketing and sales – agreed upfront as a common shared goal.

What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organisation with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

Common lead generation scenario
One example and context was from a marketing agency feedback in running an ICT campaign for a successful Microsoft partner. The client challenge was to generate 2500 marketing leads for a sales target of $10M (4 sales representatives) through content driven marketing automation. That would mean over 200 leads per monthjust from organic digital content and use of marketing automation – a huge task to guarantee a cost per lead model that doesn’t quantify sales opportunity progress or success.

These metrics and expectations just didn’t add up realistically given the variables; length of follow up from sales, quality of leads, and length of the sales cycle. It seemed like the ROI and appropriate KPI would have been unrealistic to achieve in 12 months. These lead metrics are only part of the picture and can’t be relied on to generate consistent leads without first examining the sales targets. If you can reverse engineer the sales target setting process with the required amount of marketing activity and leads required, this usually highlights either a gap in sales target expectations or marketing budget allocation to support this. In an ideal situation the sales manager and marketing manager should agree on the common metrics and KPIs.

In the previous campaign run by the agency mentioned, the MQLs manifesting from the marketing automation platform were largely impressions, web visits, contacts, downloads and enquiries. This is purely a top of funnel focus.

However typical frustrations arose in lead follow-through between MQL and SQL when the sales team didn’t follow up the leads or several leads slip through the cracks.

It was refreshing to hear the marketing agency involved in this campaign quote that the missing link is (needing) “still a human to be involved”.

The other negative impact of relying on inbound automation alone as the primary channel for lead generation was that the sales representatives can became less motivated to generate their own leads as BDMs or Account Managers.

From my sales experience, the biggest challenge still lies in bridging the gap between MQLs and SQLs with a higher degree of skill over simply appointment setting to meet the metric. I believe that one of the keys to successful lead generation is for businesses to invest more in inside sales functions and achieving higher quality results.

What is Inside Sales, and how is it different? 

Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead


What is ‘Inside Sales‘?
Inside sales is the sale of products or services by sales personnel who reach customers by phone or online methods, rather than travelling to meet them face-to-face. Inside sales relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

How is inside sales different to outside sales?
Unlike outside sales personnel, insides salespeople do not travel. Despite this, they are still proactive about contacting potential customers and may make cold contacts. A company may also designate incoming calls from prospective customers as inside sales. In addition, a company may outsource their inside sales duties to a third party instead of conducting sales in-house to increase their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, the time taken to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world as an Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Acceleration Lead or Sales Development Representative.

The typical capability and profile is someone with 2 to 3 years of sales experience or telephone based sales who appreciates the technical/conceptual aspect of the product or service that is being offered. At market rates in Australia they are paid between $50K to $70K base salary plus commission of up to $100K OTE in an ICT role.

If you can successful build a team of ISRs who have senior industry expertise, the right sales aptitude and attitude, with attention to detail and appropriate training, this is a great foundation. The team can then enhance sales enablement process and help bridge the gap between sales and marketing. This investment may generate a higher ROI than employing just a field sales team and, in some cases, represent better value.

The key to successful full funnel conversion from any marketing lead generation is to execute a marketing campaign with Inside Sales Representatives. Many marketing agencies spend a lot of time developing a top of funnel focus, driving online automation campaigns and leads from multiple channels and tactics. This may be moderately successful however the role and responsibility is handed back across to the client for the middle and bottom of the funnel engagement focussed on sales conversion.

Stopping the “Leaky Funnel” effect

In my opinion, this is where the true ROI of a retainer is unlocked for sales effectiveness and still requires a level of knowledge and “human” interaction to bridge this MQL to SQL gap and “leaky funnel” syndrome – which is still being experienced as a common cause of disconnection between marketing agencies and sales teams.

marketing-sales-funnelSource: Hubspot

A good inside salesperson should have the ability to grasp more complex concepts and think about a more meaningful business discussion on a follow up call to increase the quality of marketing qualified leads.

The benefit of inside sales is that star performers can be identified and nurtured towards a field sales progress path which provides sales engagement continuity to the business or a transition plan for staff retention.

The human skills factor can’t be replaced by digital automation
The human factor in consideration of the specific knowledge of the company’s products, services or solutions can provide a far more contextually-relevant delivery compared to a telemarketing representative following a script. Commonly the lack of depth of understanding isn’t appropriate to the conversation with the target stakeholder and decision maker on the prospect side and can lead to lost opportunities.

The buyer’s journey today means that more customers and prospects are well informed via multiple channels through their own research before being accessible and ready in their timeframe to actively make a purchasing decision and engage their supplier of choice.

Traditional telemarketing conversion rates are still poor and the ROI is negligible without the due care of impact on sales revenue and profits. Would you rather have 10 highly qualified leads a month with a 50% ratio to convert with some strategic awareness or 20 average leads of inconsistent quality just because it was an agreed cost per lead engagement per month that was committed to deliver regardless of the chance of conversion?

Customised lead generation is highly recommended rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to have a better chance of success. Inside sales is increasingly becoming the avenue to help achieve this.

Look out for Part 2 of this series, Why to use inside sales for lead generation: Sales strategy and ROI, where we will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development, the importance of strategy, and also the use of marketing automation to increase qualified leads and overall ROI.

If any of the challenges mentioned above resonate for you, register for an independent Business Growth Assessment to find out how and where we can help you resolve some of your concerns across your marketing and sales strategy. 

Alchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview

How effective Sales Enablement can help you hit your Sales Revenue Targets

In our previous articles on business growth and growing sales revenue, we touched on the 3 reasons and 3 actions for aligning marketing and sales processes. While the alignment of marketing and sales are important, enablement of sales teams covers a wider area to generate sales revenue.  Sales enablement is the holistic process of implementing strategies, tools and process that would continually increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team. This is especially important in the highly competitive financial industry in Singapore.

Famed research company, The Aberdeen Group, found that 84% of companies with best in class sales enablement strategies hit their sales quota, compared to 55% for average companies and 15% for laggard companies. If 84% of your sales team can reach their sales target, your company would grow exponentially. For companies to achieve best in class for enablement of sales teams is a very broad discipline, they can begin with a few vital areas first and move on when they see better results.

Sales enablement – the HTEA (Hiring, Training, Equipping, Assessment) framework

While there are many ways of beginning the sales team enablement conversation, the best way would to look at the recruitment and talent acquisition strategy and process. According to recruitment firm, Michael Page Singapore, the financial industry has the second largest turnover, just behind the technology sector in Singapore.

top 5 professional groups most likely to change roles in the next 12 months chart

Source: Michael Page Singapore

Based on their survey, if you have a 10 person team, you can expect 4 to leave in 12 months and if you have a 5 person sales team, you can expect 2 of them to leave for a competitor. This means that you will need to have a robust hiring process where you identify the sales people with the right attributes which you want to bring onto the team. This process has to be owned jointly by the sales and marketing team.

Once you have hired the right folks, the next objective would be to train them to understand your company’s value and have a formal process to improve their sales capabilities. This would include a knowledge building process where the sales experience, design and process, documents and plans of the future are transferred to the new hire. This can be done either in a formal or informal process and if done properly, it would increase the efficiency of your business, reduce risk and harness sales opportunities.

Aside from the external knowledge, your sales person would need to build their internal sales competency in the five areas of achievement motivation, emotional stability, emotional intelligence, accountability and time management.

One of the main advantage of proper training is to reduce the ramp-up time for the new sales staff to productive. The key question to ask is how many months does it take for a new sales hire to reach the same production level as a veteran sales guy.

sales enablement productivity goals graph

Source: CSO Insights

The answer is simple. Just put the name of every sales person on one column and on the next few columns, put in first, second and third monthly sales until you reach the matured stage. For most sales people, it will take them 16 months to hit full productivity and most managers don’t like the sound of that. This is why one of the top aim of sales enablement would be to reduce the ramp up time.

Besides training, the next key goal is to equip your sales person with the right CRM, social media, marketing collateral and other tools, to hit their sales quota. Finally, the final piece of the puzzle would be to measure their sales metrics from leads to appointments to sales closure. This will tell you the effectiveness of the sales people and their sales manager.

The metrics would tell a story. For instance, if your private banker is getting lots of leads but manage to convert 1% of them into appointments, then you should look at the quality of the lead or the sales approach process (phone call scripts, email templates) for any weakness.

53.6% Sales boost – social selling alignment

Social media is the new effective medium to reach out to your customers. We suffer from short attention span with the outburst of information from the Internet age and the best way to reach out to them would be through social media. In social selling, Facebook is not the most dominant unlike social media marketing.

The crown would go to LinkedIn which used by 84% of sales people, followed by Twitter which is used by 38%, then we have Facebook at 28% and finally 15% of sales people use Google+. These sales people have formulated an entire sales strategy and leverage on social marketing tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck. When their sales and social selling strategies are aligned, it is found that the organization boost their sales by 53.6%. There is a saying that an increase in sales cure all pain within the organization, so give it a try.

how social selling tools are used chart

Source: CSO Insights

It has been found that social selling is a good source of leads and research into the qualification of the prospect. This is one reason why LinkedIn is overwhelmingly popular with sales people when they engaged in social selling.

For instance, if your private bank wants to target a high net worth individuals, you can search for the C-suite of companies with turnover of $100 million and above. If you pay for your LinkedIn account, you can easily find such information within the 106 million active users and 467 million of users.

Look at the problem carefully

No two organizations are the same and therefore, they have unique sets of obstacles that is preventing them from hitting their full sales potential. There are no lack of sales enablement solution in the market and CEOs might be tempted to jump onto the first solution that makes sense.

This will create problems down the road when the results are not forthcoming. The first step is to look at the problem of the organization seriously and discover hidden issues that are hindering your progress.

For that, you would require experienced sales person to independently help diagnose your organisation issues. Alchemise Consulting’s Director, Chak Ng, has over 17 years of APAC sales experience and his consulting team can provide an ‘outside of the box’ approach to your business issue.

The benefits of discovery from a complementary business growth assessment can include a focus on digital readiness assessment or sales and marketing alignment.

What’s Next

Now that you know of the importance of aligning both the sales and marketing processes, you will have to take action. In the next article, we will detail the framework to make that alignment possible. Stay tuned.

To find out more about how we can help take your business to the next level, please register below.

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How sales enablement can quadruple your private banking AUM sales funnel

Private banks are essentially sales organisations created to win the trust of high net worth individuals which is a tall order for most people. These people may not be in the financial sector but they are usually savvy in their own field of business. With the explosion of information on the Internet, the buying process have changed where these prospects consume content before deciding on whether to engage your company.

Sales enablement is the process of allowing sales representative to sell at higher velocity and increase your sales funnel. If it takes 1 year for your new private banker to hit $50 million in assets under management (AUM), then through the sales enablement process, it should take no more than 6 months. Does this sound too good to be true in an area where multi-family offices and other private banks are competing against the expanding pool of clients?

How can enabling financial services and private banking sales teams double sales?

The answer to how enabling sales teams can allow your sales representatives to sell at higher velocity lies in its role and positioning. Sales enablement can be seen as a hybrid between marketing and sales but it is solely focused in direct activities that leads to sales. It is not involved in branding or buying ads. 

From a practical perspective, sales enablers sit down with sales representatives to uncover the personas of their ideal client and how they can work towards securing them. One of the first activities would be to roll out suitable content according to the buyers’ journey. This can include awareness articles which touches on the new trends on wealth management, white paper on the state of the economy in exchange for email address for consideration and case studies on how your bank grew the wealth of your clients for them to make their decision.

It would also include incorporating an enablement tool such as CRM and marketing automation software where activities are automated and measured for its effectiveness. Leads are nurtured and would only pass it to sales when they are ripe for the picking. Sales enablers would also sit in on client calls to see how the clients are reacting to the produced content.

Suitable candidates for enabling sales.

Not every private bank is suitable for sales enablement as it involves a shift in mindset and organizational purpose. If your private bank is focused on serving your existing pool of clients, then it is not suitable. However, if you are targeting to grow your base of clients, you would need high quality content which speaks for itself. 

Someone has to talk to your private bankers and see how clients are responding to the given materials. The private bankers have to be allowed to focus on the sales part of the job instead of being bogged down by the need to locate the right materials. Qualified leads have to be brought in at a fast pace to support rapid growth.

Source: Mindtrickle

The right sales manager can move your company from undefined to a world-class private banking powerhouse, with increases proven by relevant metrics. The right sales manager would measure results and consequently refine the activities on a regular basis.

For instance, if your average asset under management is $2 million with 0.5% management fee, each client is worth $10,000 to the firm. If you can improve the lead to client conversion rate from 5% to 10% and increase the pool of qualified leads from 50 to 100 per month, then your revenue would have increased from $25,000 to $100,000. You can see how a small increase in conversion rate and qualified leads can result in a significant increase in revenue.

The Alchemise Advantage

These are realistic targets after the proper sales enablement strategy is defined and deployed. It is a process which can take between 3 to 6 months before you can see results and not an overnight success. There is basically two ways which you can do these: hire a team or hire a consultancy. Even with 1 experienced sales activation hire, it would likely cost you at least $6,000 per month or $36,000 before you can see the results. The newbie might be cheaper but the results are likely to take longer to materialize. 

Source: Hubspot

If you missed our last article, please read also 4 ways to increase your AUM growth in Singapore private banking.

Alchemise Consulting provides you the advantage and value of combining a suite of experienced industry sector focussed consultants with their low-cost, shared risk and outcome-based approach. Studies have shown that the 99% of the best sales enabled companies hit their quota. Curious how we do it?

Written by Ong Kai Kiat, Singapore – Alchemise Consulting

Register for your complimentary and confidential Business Growth Assessment. We invite you to talk to one of our Senior Consultants based in our Singapore or Australia office locations

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