Ed Porter and I met at this year’s AA-ISP Leadership Summit, specifically at the Birds of a Feather Roundtable where the topic was Best Practices of Inside Sales Leaders. Ed had some very interesting things to share and I thought it would be great to share his stories and experience with all of you.
In talking with Ed, what he does and what his team does is a success story for the ages. Ed is the Director of Inside Sales for a large hotel supply company. They provide soup to nuts operating supplies for hotels, both large and small. From the guest rooms to the banquet halls, from trash bags to napkins, from TV’s to wine glasses, they provide it all.
Dionne: Ed, a portfolio of thousands of products is huge (obviously), how do you train up your team?
Ed: Great question. Without going into too much detail, we provide training on the products, practice call flow, identify the right questions to ask, and give price only after the conversation. Here’s an example as to why – let’s say you want to buy a vacuum. Well, we have over 100 to choose from, so how would a sales rep know which one to discuss? Does a customer want to hear about all 100? Probably not.
Dionne: Ed, tell me about your team and how are they segmented? And what are their roles?
Ed: We have inside sales reps covering all parts of the country. Each inside sales rep is responsible for sales and support of the customers assigned to them. The inside sales team is an extension of our outside sales team so that our company can adequately provide service to any hotel regardless of their location or size.
Dionne: When did your company create its Inside Sales team?
Ed: We’ve had an inside sales presence for the past 15 years or so. It’s only been four years ago since I’ve been here that we’ve fully established an inside sales presence across all areas of the country. The company saw the success inside sales was having and wanted to leverage the department throughout the whole country.
Dionne: As with any change, there are some learning curves, how is the team doing?
Ed: I’m thrilled to say the Inside Sales team is now a part of our company DNA. My team’s responsibilities are the same as the Outside Sales team; having both teams allows us to serve our customers in the best capacity.
Dionne: Any success stories to share?
Ed: You bet. The Inside Sales team has busted quota year over year putting up some significant growth numbers. And we’re seeing some customers more comfortable with buying from us remotely. Additionally, the Inside Sales team is starting to grow in terms of revenue responsibility and functional responsibility.
Dionne: That sounds fascinating, what does that mean for the future of your team?
Ed: Great question. We’re looking to grow our market share and as customers become more comfortable buying remotely and digitally, our Inside Sales team serves as a conduit for bringing other departments together, helping our customers exponentially and really grow our underserved markets.
Dionne: What are some of your near term projects to help see those goals come to fruition?
Ed: Well, I can’t go into too much detail for a variety of reasons. I will say this, we are leveraging some of the latest best practices to really know our customers and provide the highest level of services to them in order for us all to be successful.