Software CEOs and University Presidents Agree: Inside Sales Experience is Legit

Inside Sales has created quite the buzz recently.

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is inside sales and why all the hoopla?

I’ll start off by explaining what inside sales isn’t: it’s not telemarketing. Those scripted phone calls are far from what inside sales professionals do. Referring to inside sales as telemarketing is like referring to Cirque du Soleil as Vaudeville. And it’s not outside sales – that traditional door-to-door kind of fieldwork is fading fast. So what is it?

In a word, it’s booming.

In a recent Forbes article, a study found inside sales grew at a rate 15 times higher than outside sales. In fact, inside sales is now the fastest growing industry in all of sales and marketing. Ken Krogue wrote the Forbes article and is the President and Cofounder of InsideSales.com. He put it best when he eloquently described the movement as, “… where the growth is and the cost isn’t.”

Now, on to the definition: whether you call it remote sales, virtual sales, or inside sales, it’s all the same industry. We, along with our network of professional salespeople, do our work remotely or virtually. It’s a sophisticated, multi-step process, and we use technology to our advantage. Online conferencing tools like WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Skype are now credited with defining the inside sales industry. Inside sales people are more fluent in using social media in the sales process and tend to get more things done faster and more cost effectively than their field sales counterparts.

That’s why more and more outside sales reps can be found spending up to half their workday selling from the friendly confines of their office exactly like their inside sales counterparts. The inside sales process works so well because buyers prefer it, too.

But here’s my favorite part about inside sales: it gives you the skills and experience you need to be successful in almost any position you encounter throughout your career. You’ll find out how to skillfully navigate the corporate labyrinth, steering clear of political land minds and red tape. You’ll learn to understand a client’s objection to a situation. Is it misunderstanding or misinterpretation? Training and experience will teach you to recognize an objection, work through it, then – most importantly – move that conversation to the next step. How many times will you use that process in your life?

Where will you end up?

I truly believe that inside sales is a launch pad for career success. Many people feel that sales offers the fastest track to becoming a CEO, and according to Forbes, about 20 percent of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs started out in sales and marketing. Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, is one example of someone who started in inside sales. On a more personal level, I’ve had an Ivy League educated CEO of a venture capital funded enterprise software company tell me that he wishes he had a year or two of inside sales experience. (I quickly pointed out the irony because I wish I had a year or two of experience running a VC-funded enterprise software company!)

The point is that it’s difficult to lead a company without knowing how to sell your vision, your ideas, and your product.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics, one in nine Americans works in sales. In To Sell Is Human, New York Times Bestselling author Daniel Pink argues “so do the other eight,” which reminds me of a recruiting event I attended at George Mason University. I was lucky enough to have lunch with their recently retired president, Alan G. Merten. It turns out that even in a higher education setting, Merten felt that a large part of his job involved sales. He explained that he was always lobbying political bigwigs, fundraising with potential donors, and attracting – then retaining – top-ranking professors.

Punctuating our brief time together, he shared with me how earlier in his career as a professor, his students would often seek his advice on which job opportunity to pursue. His answer was always the same: take the job that puts you closest to the customer.

Quality inside sales experience offers a strong foundation for most any career.

Find out how to make inside sales the launch pad to your career with a position and training at memoryBlue.

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