We’re in the middle of a big sales shake up

There’s been a bit of buzz around ‘Inside Sales’. It’s a role that’s potentially supersized the growth of many a SaaS organisation over recent years.

It’s also been a bit of a game changer for careers. The notion is a fairly simple one.

Sales—especially B2B sales—is currently undergoing a transformation. As customers become more spread out and remote, sales models are having to act. We’re seeing a big increase in companies invest in a new sales models that involves high touch transactions. It’s been defined as ‘Inside Sales’ and it’s pretty popular with B2C and B2C companies selling high ticket services.

The nature of services offered by SaaS companies is often a fairly complex sell – it requires a relationship beyond traditional transaction.

Engagement, trust, genuine interest in what a company is trying to achieve is the new norm when making a sale.

Customers now have a cycle, and it’s not just a linear path – multiple touch points at multiple stages has put a strong emphases on Sales and Marketing working as one smooth transaction.

The inside sales model is often more cost-effective as a result of advances in sales technology as there’s capability to interact with a higher volume of leads.

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics recently explained: “Enterprise sales are changing. People are busier than ever: they don’t want to take time out of their day to meet with a sales rep in their office. Fact is, they’d rather be at home with their family than getting wined and dined by someone they don’t know.

The upshot is that they’re willing to cut large checks without ever having a face-to-face meeting with anyone from your company. I’m paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on Salesforce.com and I’ve never met a sales rep in person.

Let’s face it, the CIO is no longer the only person who matters when making technology buy decisions. Demand tends to be driven from the bottom up by people who need, or already use, your product.

So focus on inside sales. We use a hybrid model that’s 90/10 inside/direct. We do million-dollar deals over the phone and use an in-person meeting to close. It cuts costs and our sales reps are twice as productive when they’re in the office.

We hire people who can have high-level conversations with executives and not embarrass us, but who are hungry and scrappy enough to get on the phone and figure out how to navigate the customer’s organization.”

It’s a big shift for sales teams, practically eliminating the need for a cold call. The conversations themselves are also well informed thanks to smart CRM and marketing automation tools. Hard, cold calling is being replaced with engaging, valuable conversation.

A few things you should know about inside sales:

How it took off – Helming a cash-strapped startup, CEO Marc Benioff pioneered several inside sales techniques out of necessity. Perhaps the most prominent example was the company’s offer of free online trials that required no prior contact with a sales rep.

Common job functions:
Sales prospecting
Inbound Sales
Lead Qualification
CRM data logging.

The bigger picture -The alignment between sales and marketing ensures that marketing focuses on the best performing leads in the funnel. Sales reps can interject with a call and close a deal without even leaving the office.

The key to success: Trust. There’s no use in having a world of information if it’s not used in communication. It’s down to the sales team to earn the trust of a prospect and gain an in-depth understanding of their overall business goals.

The right fit: It’s a pretty unique balance of skills for the role covering a large set. Reps combine phone, email and digital or social skills with the more persuasive and target driven skills of a sales rep. It’s a great opportunity to craft skills along the entire sales process from prospecting to researching to presenting to negotiating.

Future leaders: Inside sales leaders of the future need to be people-focused. They need to understand the required skills and competencies. Common paths from inside sales lead to senior inside sales role dealing with larger value deals or field sales BDM.

Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.