A Marketer’s Review of the AA-ISP Inside Sales 2011 Conference

Posted: July 1, 2011 by David Lamont in Reviews
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I had the opportunity to join The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (“AA-ISP”) and attend their Inside Sales Conference on February 10th 2011 at the Hyatt Regency near San Francisco Airport. The conference is dedicated exclusively to the “front lines” of Inside Sales, it brings together Inside Sales Professionals to learn, share, and network. It was a very well attended conference with good presentations and good participation.

There was also a small expo featuring some very innovative tools from firms like EchoQuote (see review), InsideView (prospect profiles from social media), Glance (online meeting screen sharing) and ConnectAndSell (they pre-dial and connect prospects in real-time to your salespeople) to name just a few.

What impressed me about the AA-ISP crowd was their professionalism. This conference, and the people who attended, were all about solving problems and improving sales techniques. There was no politicking about quotas, inbound sales leads, marketing support, or other matters that you might experience at a company meeting.

If there was an overt area of dissatisfaction with management and other departments it related to how inside sales professionals are viewed and compensated. Despite achieving similar quotas to outside salespeople, inside salespeople are often paid less and given less respect. There is a tendency to think of every telephone-centric salesperson as telemarketers reading from a script.

Smart organizations have professional salespeople who spend most of their time reaching out to prospects and customers using the Internet and telephone, rather than traveling. These Inside Sales Professionals are not junior salespeople, nor script-bound telemarketers. They use CRM software, databases, LinkedIn, Facebook and other tools to prospect. They communicate by email, Skype, GoToMeeting, video presentations, online demonstrations, and the telephone, as well as an occasional face-to-face meeting. Their productivity can be so high that it makes the idea of carrying a bag with a day planner, brochures and business cards seems totally antiquated.

Here are some tactical sales tips from my scribbled notes:

  • The bigger the deal, the more time you should spend on research. $100K+…spend half your day. $10K… spend 10% of your day.
  • Prepare before you call. Take 3 minutes to identify 3 topics to talk about.
  • Call first. Then email. This distinguishes your email from automated email.
  • Caller ID impacts your contact rates. A local ID is best and can be up to 400% better than a blocked ID. Regular area codes are better than toll-free numbers.
  • Persistence works. That means 6 to 8 call attempts.
  • Calling between 8 to 9 am and 4 to 5 pm can increase connect rates by 15%. Wednesdays and Thursdays are better than Mondays. Consider this when scheduling meetings, research, and other sales-support activities.
  • A good voice mail message will result in a call back 5 to 7% of the time. Leave voice mail every 2 days.
  • Fax contact rates are 7X better than email.
  • Mail lists go stale. Expect 3 to 5% of emails to go bad every month. People leave, firms close.

Who should attend? If you run a US-based sales department you should definitely attend an AA-ISP Conference. If you are an upwardly mobile sales professional you’ll want to attend.

Is the Inside Sales Conference for marketers? Not really. But if you don’t have to travel far, or pay much to attend, it’s worth a day of your time to sit in, listen and network with sales professionals from other industries.

As a marketer of IT products I learned something valuable about sales lead management strategy, especially how “best practice” salespeople work large volumes of unfiltered leads. As a result, Marketingsage has made small, but valuable changes to the best-practice process that we recommend to our clients. We’ll eventually put out a video on that topic so if you want to learn more without becoming a client, join the email notification list for this blog.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

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