Inside sales software contains a wide variety of applications, drawing from a very diverse group of more traditional software platforms. For example, inside sales software functionality has crossover with:
And these days, many vendors are even throwing some artificial intelligence into the mix! As you've probably guessed by now—or may have already learned before arriving here—finding the right inside sales software for your organization's specific needs and goals can be very challenging. We've created this Buyer's Guide to help you make the right choice. In this Buyer's Guide we discuss:
Inside sales refers to sales processes in which the seller contacts sales prospects from inside the seller's offices. It's defined in contrast to outside sales in which the seller travels to meet the sales prospects where they work, in their offices or wherever they conduct their business.
These days, inside sales is far more common and the distinction seems a bit outdated. Digital communication tools are so prevalent and so efficient, that outside sales is typically only used in a handful of niche industries.
For example, pharmaceutical sales still relies on the outside sales model, as pharmaceutical sales representatives often have more luck meeting up with healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators) in their workplaces.
Inside sales is the preferred model for a majority of digital businesses. Software and IT solutions companies, digital services and a majority of B2B sellers rely on the inside sales model.
Inside sales departments rely on phone, email, live chat or other remote communication tools to reach their sales prospects. Each of those communication tools can be a standalone application or part of a suite of integrated tools. These make up one half of the collection of tools provided by inside sales software.
Inside sales representatives also need to know who to reach out to, who those contacts are and any information related to their sales prospects, for example the origin of the lead, any previous communications and sales history. Again, this information can be provided by a standalone tool—lead scoring software, for example—or as a collection of integrated tools.
Together, these two families of IT solutions make up the bulk of inside sales software. The exact mix of tools included varies by vendor and the target industry. In the following section we outline a variety of these common tools and features.
Dashboard in Salesfusion giving overview of prospects, open and closed sales
|Dialers and call handling||Handle the frontend telephony functions, like placing calls, putting calls on hold and transferring calls. They need to be combined with a business telephony system, which can be standalone or integrated.|
|Presence tools||Monitor the activity of individual sales reps and report their availability status to others in the office.|
|Playbooks/scripting tools||Playbooks define sales process workflows and progression. Scripting tools help prompt salespeople while engaged with prospects on the phone.|
|Email templates||Provide a selection of pre-configured response and outreach emails. They are customizable and can be used with auto follow-up tools and combined with other triggers.|
|Auto follow-up||Automatically send emails based on a variety of triggers, for example after first contact, whenever new information is sent or received or any variety of interactions.|
|Live chat tools||Provide a text-based real-time communication channel, usually integrated with a company's website. Live chat tools increase engagement and lower the barrier to first contact.|
|Social listening||Social listening tools help monitor a company's social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter accounts, and alert the sales team when they spot pre-programmed indicators of interest.|
|Contact lists and histories||Provides basic contact management functionality within the inside sales platform. History records are maintained automatically and can be used for secondary outreach and to find upselling opportunities.|
|Contact/lead scoring||Helps high-volume sales departments organize their sales prospects and existing clients based on their expected and or historical value to the company.|
|Appointment setting/augmentation||These provide basic calendaring functionality, sometimes with client-facing, public calendars showing salesperson availability. Appointment augmentation tools can suggest, provide related content and materials.|
|Content engagement/email tracking||Monitor the use and access of sales materials by clients and sales prospects. Email tracking tools can monitor which emails are opened, helping improve engagement.|
|Coaching/training||Helps onboard new sales representatives, letting them get up to speed while working together with managers or senior staff.|
|Predictive analytics||These tools analyze historical data to predict future recommended actions. Predictive dialers, for example, help determine which prospect numbers to dial or which leads should be contacted first.|
Inside sales platforms are advertising artificial intelligence and machine learning tools with increasing regularity. However, in practice, these tools are still in their infancy and buyers should beware that they don't overspend on marketing hype.
Predictive analytics tools are the main real-world use of advanced machine learning technology in most inside sales platforms. These tools take the form of applications such as:
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