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.
69% of inside sales people are spending less than 10% of their time making proactive outbound calls. They are spending the majority of their time doing after sale support, order entry and pre-sale support.
To be successful, you need to make the case that your plan serves the company’s – and management’s – best interests. Emphasize results, not features, and be ready to make your business case with numbers and support from your counterparts in sales, customer success, and other stakeholders.
Every organization experiencing success with marketing automation has a different answer to this question. Here are the three that surface most often.
Distribution Strategy Group, in partnership with Modern Distribution Management recently completed a survey about inside sales teams. The survey was designed to understand the key activities and the importance of these activities to companies’ inside sales teams, along with measurements and challenges.