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We want our inside salespeople to use some of their time to shift into the proactive mode to make outbound phone contact to existing and new business.
I wish I had $5.00 for every time I came across this issue. I would have retired years ago. Let me answer it in two ways.
First, how do you get inside sales to be proactive? Answer: You don't.
It is far easier to refloat the Titanic than it is to get a group of essentially reactive customer-service-type personalities to change their mode of operation to make proactive phone calls. That's because of the personality of the typical inside/customer service person. Generally, the people who fill these positions are very reactively-oriented. By that I mean that, if a customer calls them with a problem, they will knock down walls to fix the problem and help the customer. They are great helpers and problem-solvers. That personality characteristic is one of their strengths, and one of the reasons they are good in that job.
However, if you ask them to make ten phone calls to people who are not expecting the call - proactive calls, in other words - the typical customer service representative will lose sleep the night before worrying about it. And tomorrow, when they are supposed to do this proactive calling, they will discover that the amount of other work they have to do has swollen up and crowded out the time that they had dedicated to proactive phone calls. They rarely get to it because "other stuff" gets in the way.
So, the first answer to the question of how you get inside sales to become proactive is, "Don't bother trying." You will be swimming against the current, expending great quantities of time and energy trying to make something work that is probably not going to work. You'll find yourself and your inside sales people becoming increasingly frustrated. And this frustration can spill over into other portions of the job, poisoning an other wise positive work atmosphere.
Instead, hire someone who can be totally dedicated to proactive work. Keep their job description pure: no reactive work, only proactive calls.
There is a rule here: When a person has responsibility for both reactive and proactive calls, the reactive will always swell disproportionately, crowding out the proactive.
As an alternative, it is possible that you have one customer service person who is a bit different from the rest, whose personality leads you to believe that he/she might actually enjoy proactive calling. If that's the case, then consider creating a new job for this person and having him/her do all the proactive work for the department.
Now, it may be that the circumstances of your situation will not allow you to hire a new person and or create a new position for an existing employee. If that is the case, then you need to consider my second answer.
Second: How do you get inside sales to be proactive? If you must, then be guided by these guidelines:
Transforming essentially reactive customer service people into proactive sales people is a task that is harder than almost anyone anticipates, and is, in many cases, next to impossible. Typically, the managers who want to make this transformation are sales managers who have years of sales experience. To them, making some proactive phone calls is no big deal. Everyone can do it.
That may be true from their perspective, but it is not true from the point-of-view of the customer service representatives who may be asked to do something that is difficult and threatening for them.
Dave Kahle ( www.davekahle.com ) is a consultant and trainer who helps his clients increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. He speaks from real world experience, having been the number one salesperson in the country for two companies in two distinct industries. Dave has trained thousands of salespeople to be more successful in the Information Age economy. He's the author of over 500 articles, a weekly ezine, and five books. His latest is 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople.
He has a gift for creating powerful training events that get audiences thinking differently about sales. Dave Kahle's "Thinking About Sales" Ezine features content-filled motivating articles, practical tips for immediate improvements, and helpful tips to help increase sales. Join on-line at www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.html
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