When we communicate with someone… anyone, we know that between emails, a phone conversation or visiting face to face, the latter is the most effective. When we are uncertain as to how someone may receive an email, leaving room for potential misinterpretations, we pick up the phone. When we need more signals and cues as to how our message is being received or if we are effective in articulating our intent, if possible, we get up and go sit down with someone face to face.
So one may conclude that based on our actions, as outlined above, that communicating face to face is far easier than either email and or phone.
So why is it that a typical sales professionals career path, in most any organization, goes from an inside junior sales or business development position; largely doing cold calling, prospecting and email follow up to an inside sales account executive doing sales presentations and closing small transactions, to finally, if they succeed in the above, get to be a field sales executive with the opportunity to engage prospects face to face?
In the three separate AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) events that I’ve spoken at over the years, I ask this question, and then make some bold statements:
I personally believe it takes more skill to command a room via the phone and web-conference demonstration that it does to do so in person. I takes more communication skills to set the stage, ask the pertinent questions, listen to the responses, use tonal cues versus visual cues, gather commitment and consensus and agree on a course of action, all via the phone, sometimes through multiple phone and web-conference presentations, than it does to do so face to face. To anticipate and manage objections, negotiate terms, draft and deliver proposal and execute agreements via digital mediums is far more challenging to manage well than in person.
I have done both jobs over the past 25 years. With the past 11 years, having contributed to and or executed over $ 17M in B2B data mining, research and sourcing software and solutions; mostly in $3K to $ 15K transactions, with several being 6-figure agreements, all via the phone and web-conference demonstrations. I can attest first hand that nothing challenges one’s skills in executing complex, paradigm shifting sales presentations, building relationships and securing agreements like inside sales.
Along with advancements in quality Marketing Automation systems and solutions, search and social inbound campaign initiatives, online sources and content educating potential prospects and defining when a sales professional is engage is reshaping the landscape.
So perhaps the day will soon be upon us when there is a Counter Evolution for the Sales Professional. Where the first sales job is one that puts the aspiring sales professional face to face with prospects; where they can learn with all of the verbal and non-verbal responses and cues from the sales presentations and efforts. And with success, they will be invited on a career and success path towards Inside Sales and eventually the privilege to execute large transactions and large revenue targets all via the phone and web-conference.
As you can imagine, this position and projection receives a rousing response from the members of AA-ISP. Let’s see how long it takes for the evolution to take place.