What does the future hold for the inside sales jobs role for a salesperson and will its job description come to mean anything more than facilitating a customer’s purchase.
The future of sales is not an Outside V Inside salesperson argument but a Salesperson V Technology one, because even today technology is now facilitating greater numbers of sales conversations (up to sale completion).
What will the inside sales jobs role look like in three-to-five years?
The inside sales role will evolve in line with technology. These roles will evolve to become way more value add using sales tools, AI and technology. However, most inside sales jobs will decline or even be eliminated altogether as technology replaces many customer interactions.
Many experts believe that within five years, the inside sales jobs role will be completely determined by artificial intelligence. The use of data for trends, insights and sales activity with CRM will be outputted by AI, as it has the ability to process far greater amounts of data much faster and more efficiently than human interrogation.
The impact to inside sales jobs will mean only the effective “consultant” type roles will survive and thrive. All other inside sales jobs will most likely be replaced by technology. The “sales consultants” will be deemed the high-value sales talent to be deployed to earlier stages of the sales to maximize results. This will lead to the remaining sales jobs demanding deeper sales skills, so relevant sales training and sales courses around conversations, commitments and navigating a more complex buyers’ journey effectively will be critical.
The inside sales jobs role in the future will most likely require more and more specialization. Expecting an inside salesperson to excel at research, prospecting, outreach, discovery, evaluation, presentations, negotiations and then closing is a falsehood. The entire sales process and the buyer’s journey will be mapped into a number of key stages. Then, depending on what is being sold, will see individual salespeople focusing on each stage. Sales prospecting roles and marketing will produce a mix of inbound and outbound sales leads, Sales researchers will use AI to map out account plans, conduct research and other pre-sale activities. Sales consultants will undertake the actual conversations, discovery work, connecting internally, presentations and closing the deals. Customer managers (who may not be part of the sales team) will implement what’s been sold and provide customer service.
Inside sales jobs role will quickly evolve from being an individual producer with their own goals, leads and CRM contacts to being part of the specialized team, who will share data, trends and insights via the use of sales automation tools to stay connected to prospects and customers. We will see a bigger focus on Account Based Management from the sales leadership team. In fact, the sales functions and reward models will look much more like a unified team of sales, marketing, and customer service pointing in the same direction, using the same sales tools plus following a common sales playbook.
Situational Awareness to become a key cog in every sales strategy and inside sales jobs role. Its importance is as a result of companies striving to learn how to shorten their sales cycles or better understand why buyers exit the sales process without deciding (as much as 90% of the time). Specialization will lead to better uncovering of information around buyer readiness, engagement rules, internal conflicts and buyer change management preparation so deals can progress at improved velocity. Situational awareness to become even more central to the sales process as buying committees grow, deals get more complex (may be nothing to do with price but more internal issues). The challenge for salespeople is to acquire situational awareness via ongoing sales training so it occurs throughout the entire sales process.
Inside Sales Jobs Role on the Decline
As mentioned earlier, certain inside sales jobs are already in decline and this will accelerate quickly over the next few years. The inside sales jobs role that will disappear include,
The Order takers – These types of roles whose primary function is to serve a customer and help transact a sale will decline the fastest, by as much as 40%.
The Explainers – These inside sales jobs role whose function is pointing out options, explaining product differences or doing online demonstrations are the next on the list to decline rapidly as technology and AI solutions kick in.
The Sales Navigators – These sales roles will decline slower, as they will be part of the buyer stages to guide buyers through the purchasing process. These roles will mainly be deployed in the mid stages of the sales process where personalization and complexity of choice needs addressing.
Inside Sales Jobs Role that will Thrive
The Sales Consultants. These roles will thrive as buyers seek to be enlightened, educated, challenged and empowered. The sales consultants will enter the sales process in the early stages where AI and technology has indicated the need for a higher skilled human sales resource. They will be skilled at sales prospecting, social selling, starting conversations, developing relationships, proposing a more strategic approach and gaining commitments not just from the buyer but the whole buying committee. Sales consultants will master that messaging and content gets driven by the account (and the opportunities) rather than the individual needs.
The Future of the Inside Sales Jobs Role
Sales, selling and how buyers buy is in uncharted territory. Technology disruption, digital sales transformation, lower the cost of sales and adjusting the sales and marketing efforts to the buyer’s journey is posing challenges.
First, inside sales jobs will be impacted by the automating of order fulfillment, self-service, on-demand virtual product tours and administrative type sales tasks. The use of chat-bots and digital assistants to transact high-volume, simplified transactions will see sales management recruit salespeople to focus on higher-value or more strategic type sales. Through this approach, some inside sales jobs will thrive and grow, while others will gradually be removed from the sales process. Now is the time to act, up-skill and learn the sales techniques needed for the Sales 3.0 or even the Sales 4.0 digital era.