Your Definitive Guide To The SaaS Inside Sales Model
When it comes to acquiring customers for a SaaS business, the sales process has always been a critical part of success.
In the early days of SaaS, the go-to-market strategy was almost exclusively direct sales.
This meant that a sales representative would reach out to potential customers in person, build a relationship, and then close the deal.
However, times have changed. With the rise of digital tools and platforms, a new sales model has emerged: inside sales.
In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about the SaaS inside sales model. This includes its difference from outside sales, why it’s on the rise, challenges, and best practices.
What Is The SaaS Inside Sales Model?
The SaaS inside sales model is a type of customer acquisition where a company uses digital tools to reach and engage potential customers.
It’s also sometimes called remote sales, virtual sales, or digital sales.
In this sales model, a sales representative (rep) works remotely to identify and qualify leads, build relationships, and close deals. Thanks to modern technology, they can do all of this without ever having to meet the customer in person.
Inside Sales VS Outside Sales: What’s The Difference?
The traditional way of doing sales is called outside or field sales.
While both inside and outside sales have the goal of turning prospects into paying customers, they are significantly different when it comes to the means of attaining that goal.
Here are some key differences between the two types of sales models:
The main difference between inside sales and outside sales is where most of the action happens.
Field sales reps meet with potential customers in person.
This could be at a coffee shop, their office, or even their home. In some cases, they may use digital tools to connect with leads, but most of their interactions are face-to-face.
And as we mentioned earlier, an inside sales representative conducts the majority of their sales interactions virtually.
They may use the phone, email, or video conferencing to connect with leads and customers.
Another key difference between inside and outside sales is the products that they sell.
Usually, an outside sales process is more effective for physical goods, while inside sales practices work best for digital products.
This distinction is important because it affects how each type of sales rep goes about selling their product.
Outside sales agents need to be able to physically demonstrate their products to potential customers. They also need to have a strong understanding of the product so that they can answer any questions that come up during the demonstration
An inside sales representative, on the other hand, doesn’t need to physically demonstrate their product.
Instead, they need to be able to explain it in a way that is clear and concise. For SaaS products, the product demonstration is often done through a screen share.
Sales Cycle Length
In general, outside sales cycles are longer than inside sales cycles.
This is because field sales reps need to physically meet with potential customers, which takes time. They also need to build relationships and trust over a period of several meetings before they can close the deal.
Inside sales reps, on the other hand, can connect with potential customers much more quickly thanks to digital tools. As a result, the sales cycle is often shorter.
In some rare cases, it can be as short as a single phone call or email thread.
Outside sales is often more expensive than inside sales.
This is because an outside sales rep needs to travel to meet with potential customers. They also need to have a base of operations, which comes with associated costs like rent, utilities, and so on.
Inside sales reps can work from anywhere, which cuts down on overhead costs. Additionally, they don’t need to travel to meet with potential customers, which further reduces costs.
Especially with today’s gas prices.
Why Is The SaaS Inside Sales Model On The Rise?
According to HubSpot, around 45.5% of the 5.7 million professional salespeople in the United States in 2019 are inside sales reps. And that’s all sales reps, including those who are selling physical products.
You could just imagine how that number has grown since the pandemic. And how inside sales reps dominate the SaaS industry given that they are selling digital products.
There are a few reasons for this shift from outside sales to inside sales.
Recent Events Brought Most Interactions Online
The pandemic has forced businesses to move their operations online. And that includes the sales process.
In the past, outside sales reps could count on face-to-face meetings to close deals. But with the rise of Zoom calls and video conferencing, those meetings have gone virtual.
At the same time, people have become more comfortable interacting with businesses online. The barriers to entry for digital products and services have lowered, making it easier for remote sales reps to reach potential customers.
Technology Has Made Inside Sales More Efficient
There are now a number of tools that inside sales reps can use to automate repetitive tasks, like emailing and prospecting.
These tools free up their time so that they can focus on selling.
Additionally, there are a number of CRM (customer relationship management) platforms designed specifically for inside sales teams.
These platforms help sales reps keep track of their interactions with leads and customers.
You Can Predict Revenue More Easily With Inside Sales
Speaking of technology that makes inside sales easier, there are now a number of tools that sales reps can use to predict revenue.
In the past, it was difficult to predict how much revenue a sales rep would bring in because the sales cycle was so long.
But with the rise of inside sales, it’s become easier to track a rep’s progress and predict their results.
Most Customer Journeys Start Online
Many customers now start their journey with a Google search. They might be looking for information about a specific product or service. Or they might be comparing different options.
In either case, they’re likely to come across an article or blog post that’s been written by an inside sales rep. If the content is good, it will help build trust and confidence in the product or service.
This is one reason why content marketing is so important for inside sales teams.
By creating helpful and informative content, they can reach potential customers at the very beginning of their buyer’s journey.
You Can Specialize Roles Within An Inside Sales Team
In an outside sales model, each sales rep is responsible for the entire sales process. They need to generate their own leads, nurture those leads, and make the sale.
But in an inside sales model, you can specialize roles within the team. Depending on your sales team structure, of course.
For example, you can have one team of reps responsible for generating leads, another for nurturing those leads, and another team responsible for closing deals.
This helps to make the sales process more efficient. And it allows each team to focus on what they do best.
Inside Sales Can Target A Global Market
With inside sales, there are no geographical boundaries.
An inside SaaS sales rep can reach potential customers anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection.
This is perfect for SaaS businesses that want to target a global market. They can reach more people with inside sales than they ever could with outside sales.
What Are The Challenges Of Inside Sales?
Just because inside sales is becoming easier and more effective doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its challenges.
In fact, there are a few obstacles that an inside sales rep needs to be aware of:
More Competition In Inside Sales
One of the downsides of having a global marketplace is also having competitors worldwide.
And with the barriers to entry lowered, more and more SaaS businesses are moving to an inside sales model.
That means that inside sales reps need to work harder to stand out from the crowd. They need to find new and innovative ways to reach potential customers.
To overcome this challenge, an inside sales rep needs to study their competitors.
They need to understand what their unique selling propositions (USPs) are. And they need to create their own USP that sets them apart from the competition.
Higher Chances Of Getting Bad Leads
Another downside of having a vast market is the high likelihood of capturing bad or even bogus leads. In other words, these are leads that will never convert into customers.
In order to be successful, an inside sales rep needs to be able to quickly and accurately qualify leads. They need to know who is worth pursuing and who isn’t. Otherwise, they’ll waste a lot of time pursuing dead ends.
There are a few ways to make sure you’re only getting high-quality leads:
So, it’s important for an inside sales team to have a close working relationship with your marketing team.
Make sure that your marketing team knows what kind of leads you’re looking for. That way, they can generate leads that are more likely to convert.
Use lead scoring tools: There are a number of lead scoring tools on the market that can help you quickly and easily qualify leads. These tools analyze a lead’s behavior and rate them based on their likelihood to convert.
By using these tools, you can focus your time and energy on pursuing the best leads.
Never buy leads from databases: Buying random leads from a database is a good way to get bad leads. These leads are often inaccurate and outdated. And they’re not worth your time or money.
It’s much better to generate your own leads through inbound marketing or other methods.
It’s Hard To Build Rapport Online
One of the most important things that a sales rep can do is build rapport with a potential customer.
It’s easier when you’re out there doing field sales and talking to your client in person.
You can read body language and understand the customer’s needs better. What’s more, you can manage your own tone and gestures to create a connection.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said with inside sales.
It’s harder to build rapport when you’re talking to someone online. You can’t read body language as easily. And it can be easy to misread the tone of an email or message.
Plus, it’s even more difficult when you’re dealing with people from different cultures and time zones.
To overcome this challenge, an inside sales rep needs to be extra careful about the way they communicate.
They need to be clear and concise in their messages. And they need to use the right tone that will create a connection with the customer.
They also need to be patient and understand that building rapport takes time. It’s not something that can happen overnight.
Time Management Can Be Difficult
With inside sales, reps need to be very disciplined with their time. In order to be successful, they need to be able to find a balance between generating new leads and nurturing existing ones.
It can be tempting for an inside sales rep to focus all of their time on generating new leads. After all, new leads are the lifeblood of any sales team.
But if they’re not careful, they’ll neglect their current customers. And that’s a surefire way to lose business.
To avoid this, it’s important for an inside sales rep to set aside time each day for both activities.
They should have a schedule that allows a certain amount of time for each task. And they should stick to that schedule as much as possible.
Inside Sales Tasks Can Feel Monotonous
Let’s face it, the tasks that an inside sales rep needs to do can feel monotonous. Day in and day out, they’re making calls, sending emails, and trying to reach potential customers.
It’s easy for an inside sales rep to get burnt out from doing the same thing over and over again. And when that happens, their performance suffers.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep your sales reps motivated:
Show them the meaning of their work: It’s important for sales reps to understand how their work fits into the big picture. They need to know that their work is making a difference.
One way to do this is to keep them updated on the company’s progress. Show them how the company is growing and expanding. And let them know how their work is contributing to that growth.
Another way to show them the meaning of their work is to highlight customer success stories. When your sales reps see how they’re impacting people’s lives, it’ll give them a boost of motivation.
Gamify your sales process: Another way to keep your sales reps engaged is to gamify your sales process. By adding elements of competition, you can make the sales process more fun and engaging.
For example, you could have a leaderboard that ranks sales reps based on their performance. Or you could offer prizes for the top performers.
Reward excellent work with a tiered commission structure: Finally, you can motivate your sales reps by offering a tiered commission structure. The higher the sales numbers, the higher the commission rate.
This will give your sales agents an incentive to sell more and earn more money.
Best Practices For A SaaS Inside Sales Model
If you want your inside sales team to be successful, there are a few best practices that you should follow:
1) Build A SaaS Sales Funnel
If you want to close more deals, you need to have a sales funnel in place.
A SaaS sales funnel is a process that takes a prospect from being a complete stranger to becoming a paying customer, and to even becoming an advocate of your SaaS product.
The sales funnel has several stages, and each stage requires a different type of interaction with the potential customer.
The goal of an inside sales team is to move leads and prospects through the sales funnel as quickly and efficiently as possible
There are a few things you can do to build an effective SaaS sales funnel
Use content marketing to attract strangers and turn them into leads: At the top of the funnel (TOFU), your goal is to attract strangers and turn them into leads.
One of the best ways to do this is with content marketing. By creating helpful, informative blog posts, you can attract people to your website and get them interested in your SaaS product.
Use lead nurturing to turn prospects into qualified leads: Once you’ve attracted a stranger and turned them into a lead, your next goal is to turn that lead into a qualified lead.
This is where lead nurturing comes in. This is the process of building relationships with prospects and moving them further down the sales funnel.
Turn existing customers into loyal advocates: The great thing about the SaaS customer journey is that you can’t just view it as a funnel. Some SaaS businesses also view it as a flywheel.
Once you’ve turned a stranger into a lead, and then a qualified lead into a paying customer, your goal is to turn that customer into a loyal advocate.
And when an advocate helps you generate a new lead, the customer journey goes full circle.
This is why it’s so important to focus on customer success. If you can help your customers be successful, they’ll be more likely to stay loyal and continue doing business with you. They may even refer new leads to you.
For example, in the TOFU, you might want to track key SaaS marketing metrics, such as website visitors, traffic sources, and social media engagement.
By tracking the right metrics in each stage, you can see how well your inside sales team is performing and where there’s room for improvement.
2) Make Sure Your Sales Team Understands Your SaaS Product
It’s important for your sales team to have a good understanding of your SaaS product. They should know what it does, how it works, and who it’s for.
If your sales team doesn’t have a good understanding of your product, they won’t be able to sell it effectively. They’ll end up making promises that the product can’t keep. And that will damage your company’s reputation.
To avoid this, make sure you take the time to train your sales team on your product. Give them a comprehensive overview of what it does and how it works. And make sure they understand your target market.
3) Create Buyer Personas For Your Target Market
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer
It’s important to create buyer personas because they help you understand your target market better. And when you understand your target market better, you can sell to them more effectively.
To create a buyer persona, you need to gather data about your target market. You can do this through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
4) Build Trust With Each Lead & Prospect
If you want to close more deals, you need to build trust with each lead and prospect.
People are more likely to buy from someone they trust. So it’s important that you establish trust early on in the sales process.
There are a few ways you can build trust with your contacts:
Treat them like people, not projects: When you’re talking to someone online with the goal of selling a product to them, it’s easy to forget that there’s a real person on the other end.
Trust me, they can sense it when you’re only after their money. So, take the time to get to know them as a person. Find out about their interests, their families, and their lives outside of work.
The more you know about them, the easier it will be to build rapport. And the better rapport you have with them, the more likely they are to trust you.
Don’t aggressively sell at the first sales call: When you make the first contact with a lead, your goal should be to build trust, not to sell them on your product.
If you try to aggressively sell them on your product from the start, they’ll likely get turned off and stop talking to you. So, take it slow and focus on building a relationship first.
Keep Your Word: If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you follow through.
Whether it’s following up on a promise or meeting a deadline, always keep your word. If you have a Zoom meeting, make sure you’re logged in at least ten minutes before the meeting.
When you fail at keeping your word, it reflects poorly on you and your company. And it will damage the trust that you’ve built with your contacts.
5) Invest In The Right Sales Tools
The right sales tools will help your team sell more effectively and efficiently. And they’ll help you track your team’s progress and identify areas for improvement.
Some of the essential sales tools for an inside sales team include:
CRM: A CRM system is a must-have for any sales team. It helps you track your leads, manage your pipeline, and close more deals.
What’s more, some CRM solutions may even offer built-in email management, social media management, and telephony solutions. So, you can manage all your sales activities from one platform.
VoIP Tool: A VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phone system allows you to make and receive calls over the internet.
It’s an essential sales tool because it’s more affordable than a traditional phone system. What’s more, it has features that are designed for salespeople, like call recording and call analytics.
Email Marketing Software: Email marketing software allows you to automate your email marketing campaigns.
With email marketing software, you can send mass emails to your leads and prospects, track email opens and clicks, segment your contact lists, and even create drip campaigns.
This is a valuable tool for sales teams because it helps you stay in touch with your leads and nurture them through the SaaS sales process.
6) Don’t Stop Following Up
Once you’ve built trust with your contacts, it’s important that you don’t stop following up
If you stop following up, they’ll likely forget about you and your product. And even if they do remember you, they’ll be less likely to buy from you because they won’t feel as connected to you.
So, make sure you stay in touch with your contacts on a regular basis. Send them emails, reach out to them on social media, or give them a call every now and then.
The goal is to keep your company and your product top of mind. That way, when they’re ready to buy, they’ll think of you first.
7) Personalize Your Messages
When you’re following up with your contacts, it’s important that you personalize your messages
Don’t just send them generic emails or social media messages. Take the time to customize each message for the recipient.
Mention something you talked about in a previous conversation or reference a recent article they published. The more personalized your message, the more likely they are to engage with it.
And when you can get them to engage with your message, you’re one step closer to making the sale.
8) Find The Right Time To Call Or Email Your Prospects
If you want to increase your chances of getting a response from your contacts, you need to find the right time to email or call them.
The best time to contact someone may vary depending on their job, their location, and their work schedule. But in general, the best times to reach out are weekday mornings and afternoons.
Of course, you can’t always control when your prospect is available. So, if you can’t reach them during those times, don’t worry. Just make sure you’re respectful of their time and leave a voicemail or send an email.
Final Thoughts About The SaaS Inside Sales Model
The SaaS inside sales model is a great way to increase your sales and grow your business.
With an inside sales team, you can reach more prospects, close more deals, and improve your customer relationships.
However, there are certain challenges that come with this type of SaaS sales model.
For example, you need to have the right tools and processes in place. And you need to make sure your team is properly trained.
But if you can overcome those challenges, you’ll be well on your way to success.
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