The Inside/Outside Sales Metamorphosis

It’s been going on for some time now. The evolution of sales teams toward a more granular segmentation of selling units. What started out naturally is now a fast-moving phenomenon that cannot be denied. That companies are headlong in the middle of transforming and adjusting their models is clear acknowledgement the modern enterprise sales organization has changed.

And there’s no turning back. If you’re not reviewing your structure, there’s risk of missing the sales effectiveness mark.

The Mature Old Model
What used to be a classic model of Outside Sales (Direct or Strategic Sales Executives, Reps, or Managers – pick your title) morphed easily into an Inside and Outside model. This goes back several decades with the logical teaming or pairing of a junior rep with a senior rep to manage the selling load in proactively attacking new business territory or managing a set of large accounts. One sets it up, the other goes in for the close. This led to further delineation of responsibilities as “Inside” reps managed more clearly defined Lead Generation and Qualifying functions for their senior counterparts. Functional Inside Sales teams then emerged for low-end product selling and account management/servicing.

The Advent of Sales Desktop Mission Control
Over the past dozen years with the proliferation cloud-based CRM deployments, Sales 2.0 tools and enabling technologies, the ability to control the sales cycle from the desktop has revolutionized the selling effort and tilted the playing field toward an Inside sales organization that is headquarters or home-based. The apparent ability to lower sales costs was a tempting lure and caused many organizations to revamp how accounts and territories were covered, how teams were stacked, and how products were sold across a divergent team. Combine this with a sophisticated prospect-base that now qualifies vendors before even agreeing to meet with them and you had a recipe for structural change.

MXL SalesModel 2014

The Post-2008 Model
The financial crisis in late 2008 forced a cleansing, then resurgence and refinement of a model that is implemented in various configurations across many enterprise sales organizations. For several years now we’ve seen the Sales Process managed by a 3-tiered model of Sales Development Reps (SDR) feeding territory specific Inside Sales Reps (ISR) and Strategic Account Reps (SAR) with qualified leads they generate from inbound marketing programs or directed prospecting efforts. The new twist is in separating out the Pre-Sales lead generation machinery a step further. Given the sophistication of marketing automation tools to create raw leads that need optimized qualification, some companies have implemented an additional layer of Market Development Reps (MDR) to initiate well-defined, pre-screening qualification before feeding these now qualified leads to the next tier, even SDR’s, for preliminary Opportunity Development.

The model above shows these groups including the Post-Sales team of Account Managers (AM), those that service and support the deployed customer account. These AMs may be tasked to both renew and up-sell the account or engage the appropriate ISR or SAR to manage account sales growth opportunities.

The Structural Opportunity
This certainly in not your 1980s, 1990’s or even early-2000’s Inside/Outside Sales Model. The world has changed and the latest metamorphosis is before us. There are 3 key considerations that companies now need to evaluate about their existing sales organizational structure:

    1. Marketing Automation – are you doing it right or even have a plan to implement tools for lead generation, scoring and distribution?

    2. Outsourcing Lead Generation – can you and should you outsource either the qualification and even early opportunity development activity?

    3. Opportunity Development and Closing Skills – is your team fully equipped and well-trained to manage the nuances of all Prospect/Opportunity Sales Conversations with professional competence from Qualification, Discovery through Closure?

If they haven’t already, this sales team segmentation model should drive all sales leaders to rethink and evaluate their current model. Proceed with caution. This deep level of functional granularity may or may not be appropriate for some environments and so must be carefully considered. In many cases we’ve seen minor adjustments to an existing process that achieves the objective of sales organization optimization and selling effectiveness.