It’s an age-old debate (at least in Internet terms). Which is better: Inside sales – remote sales, most often virtual-based and heavily dependent on digital or telemarketing; or Outside sales – field or conventional sales including door-to-door soliciting, trade shows and cold visits?
As inside sales gains popular attention for its efficiency via marketing automation, it may be tempting to think that outside sales isn’t worth your time and effort.
But the opposite is true. Outside sales should hold an important position in your sales efforts and can pair nicely with your marketing automation software. After all, automation software is not just an inside sales booster, but also holds the power to revolutionize the way you handle outside sales.
When it comes to outside sales, there is something genuine and real about face-to-face interactions. Standing before a person, you can gauge in real time their response, which allows you to pitch in a customized way, optimizing your personal connection to sell.
But there’s subtle value, too. Face-to-face interactions clarify and augment your sales automation process. Interacting with potential customers will give you insight into how your process should be laid out in a way that best befits leads. You can easily translate these insight to your automated inside sales campaigns.
Maximizing your outside sales opportunities
What outside sales opportunities does your business have? Does it participate in trade shows or go door-to-door?
Ask yourself: How can automation make those efforts more efficient and fruitful?
Here are a handful answers to get you started:
- Streamline real-time contact capture: Input contact information from new prospects via a mobile or tablet device and get them into the sales funnel immediately. Create a custom, automated sales program that is built to complement your in-person connections. At Infusionsoft, we’ve embraced this by developing Snap, which makes it easy to add contacts to Infusionsoft from your smart phone so you can follow up immediately. Just take a photo of a business card with your smartphone and Snap will use that data to create a new contact record in Infusionsoft.
- Closely track sales team activity: Know how your individual salespeople are performing, down to the tactics they’re using and the types of prospects with whom they’re most effective. As your salespeople are out on the floor at conferences or making the rounds through their region, have them keep your CRM up to date and to also create automated campaigns that follow up on these in person meetings, personalized to the topics of interest for each prospect.
- Make strong first impressions: Do you offer a freebie to first-time email subscribers or contacts? Get that in their hands in real-time, as soon as your conversation comes to a close. This could be a copy of an e-book or a card with a URL to access a free webinar. This is a great way to effectively get in-person contacts to opt in to your email list. Most people won’t pass up that free e-book you’re offering during an in-person conversation.
A little more about in-person opt-ins
One of the most important things you can do with your outside sales activities is get each and every contact into your automated system.
And when it comes to contact capture, the last thing you want to do is lose track of new prospects, which can leave them feeling like their contact information was abducted by your database.
By telling leads exactly what opting in means—and not in a “fine print” kind of way—will allow you to double down on the trust-building that comes with personal interactions.
Compared to online, opt-ins are often much harder to get in person. Online, a few clicks of the mouse and an auto-filled email address put your contact in the database. It’s not that easy in person.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you aim for the opt-in with your outside sales efforts:
- Be warm: No one wants to opt in to a relationship with a pushy company.
- Be upfront: What are customers going to receive for going to the trouble of opting in? Tell them explicitly.
- Be generous: It’s easy to get contact information online. Consider offering a giveaway for in-person opt-ins to get prospects over the hump.
- Be true: Follow through and carefully categorize leads.
At the end of the day, there’s no need to view inside and outside sales as either/or for your business. Rather, they’re great as a yes/and. When paired together in an effective way, inside and outside sales can take your sales efforts to new heights. All it takes is a little careful planning and the courage to ask people for their permission to be added to your lists. You do it online already, now it’s time to start doing it in person.