When people hear the phrase “inside sales”, they usually picture something like Boiler Room, but staffed with under-educated 20-somethings, trying to make a fast buck. The kind of place that might be calling grandparents trying to sell magazine subscriptions. Or worse, sitting in front of a desk, waiting to take orders from people calling about the latest in-flight-magazine catalog.
The reality is, there are lots of different kinds of inside-sales. Plenty of tech-startups use inside sales for large, B2B transactions. Google uses inside sales for their big products. Almost all cable TV and phone companies use inside sales.
Now, all of those things are very different from being a loan officer, and so managing them is in some ways different. But, the truth of the matter is, LOs are inside sales people, and there are lots of things that a good LO manager can learn from some of the industries that we more traditionally think of as inside sales. Here are a few key takeaways that any senior call-center manager will know, and that you should learn as well:
Coach Continually — I’ve written extensively about the need for coaching if you want to be a good manager, but when I’ve done so, the metaphor has always been something like a football head coach. You do need to do that. But you also need to be a baseball first-base coach. You need to be live, sitting and watching right at the heart of the action, and helping your reps make the right decision, day-in and day-out. Don’t confuse this with micromanagement. You’re just giving those little pieces of encouragement and direction throughout the day, that each individual needs.
Manage Your Time, See Your Team — All day, every day, there will be outrageous demands on your time. It’s your job to manage those demands, and to make sure you have the time you need for yourself and for your team. You need to be meeting not only with the entire team on a regular basis, but with individuals on a regular basis. How often is regular? I’d say no less than once per week, but more if you can swing it.
Liaise with Marketing — Marketing and sales are different things. And when you’re heads-down managing an inside sales team with big quota targets all day long, it’s easy to ignore marketing. But that doesn’t mean you should. On the contrary, marketing is probably both your best source of leads, and (whether you like it or not) the source of your strategy. You should be setting aside time to confer with your marketing team on a regular basis. Of course, give them your input on what’s working and what isn’t, but also try and get any market-level insights out of them that can help your team perform better.