When most distributors talk about inside sales, they are usually referring to customer service agents. Yet, customer service personnel are generally more reactive than sales agents, because their goals are to make customers happy and solve problems.
A sales call guide can be a useful tool to help salespeople connect with prospects and ensure they are firing on all cylinders with every interaction, whether in person or virtually.
We recently published an article on selling value internally along with selling externally to prospects. Because while many distributors have spent time creating a value proposition their employees will take to heart, salespeople often falter when it comes to selling the company’s value to prospects.
While some distributors have spent time creating a value proposition that employees can recite by heart, when it comes time to really talk about how to sell their company’s value, many salespeople falter.
What’s the difference between customer service and inside sales? What are the skills sets distributors should look for when hiring for a successful proactive inside sales team, and aren’t those the same as customer service?
A value proposition tells customers who the company is and why they should do business with them. A clear and compelling value proposition has a direct and positive effect on a distributor’s bottom line and should drive everything in a distributor’s business.
Most distributor inside salespeople are actually playing the roles of customer service reps and don’t have the skillset for a more proactive role. As a result, these distributors are losing out on significant bottom-line benefits and shareholder value.
Print is not as universal as it once was (though it’s still very relevant for some customers), and even in-person sales rep visits, long considered the gold standard of customer-relationship building in distribution, are declining in popularity in today’s efficiency-driven market. In fact, 20 percent of customers we surveyed said they want a sales rep to visit no more than once a year, and a surprising 15 percent don’t want any visit, ever.
As the world of distribution continues to shift to digital, the way that customers want distributors to communicate with them is shifting as well. To gain a better understanding of these changes, Real Results Marketing has surveyed more than 10,000 of distributors’ customers across diverse sectors and geographies. The goal of this ongoing Shopping and Buying Survey is to gain a fuller understanding of how customers want to shop and buy by asking the customers themselves.
Nearly 45 percent of distributors’ customers we surveyed want the ability to request a chat with a customer service rep online (see Exhibit 1). We expect that number to grow as chat becomes more common and Millennials gain increased purchasing responsibility. Even now, many customers are more comfortable communicating via chat than on the phone – in part because it can be more efficient.