You have a large existing customer base but the majority of your customers are managed on request if at all? You are focusing your capacities on the strong sales A-rated customers and are neglecting the smaller customers? Read here how you can build up a highly capable hybrid sales organisation and use it directly to generate more sales revenue.
The appropriate and efficient management of all existing customers across all customer segments – from large customers to small customers – represents a challenge to many companies. The fact that the outside sales force, as the most expensive sales resource, manages all customer segments is simply not profitable seen in purely economic terms. Since the outside sales force capacity is a rare good, the focus of these employees is mostly on paying visits to the customers generating the most sales.
After all, the outside sales force is already overstrained with the existing number of A and B customers. This is exactly where working with a hybrid sales approach helps.
The status quo in many distribution organisations in B2B sales traditionally is like this: there is an outside sales force and there is inside sales. The outside sales representatives are considered to be the stars who “generate sales out there.” The office staff often live in the shadows and are considered at best to be “hard workers.” They act as writing staff managing schedules for the outside sales force, writing quotations and accepting customer requests. There is not a lot of appreciation for this. And this also hardly sparks any initiative on their part. Often the “sales gene” seems to be entirely missing in the office staff.
This works differently in a hybrid approach, however: there are two drivers who have one direction. Both work on their own, but when combined with each other, new, desirable solutions are created. Because of this combination they get to their destination faster. This also works that way analogously in hybrid sales: this is where an outside sales force representative and an office staff member join to a hybrid team. Both work together on turning their customers into fans of many years.
So that an office staffer becomes a good hybrid partner, he or she must get away from working off tasks on command and move towards proactive selling action. The traditional office staff consequently becomes an active inside sales or active sales contact centre in the service area of any modern company.
In principle, the following applies: the outside sales force and inside sales are to manage a large customer base with a team of limited size. For as long as the office staff does not sell actively, the outside sales force has the sole sales capacity. Possible consequences are low conversion rates, neglect of profitable customer segments or existing customers who are not attended to at all. The sales organisation therefore works inefficiently on the bottom line.
The seemingly obvious solution: the outside sales force has to work more or be expanded. Both has limits. Furthermore, it is neither profitable nor practicable to have the outside sales force visit all customers in person.
In the example of this ABC customer model, you can see how the hybrid sales organisation manages the diverse customer segments region-wide and efficiently, and how it is more successful this way as a team than the outside sales force on its own:
While an outside sales representative can reasonably manage at most 100 customers, an actively selling inside sales employee is able to actively manage about 300 to 450 customers by phone – depending on the size of the customers and the complexity of the sales task.
Thus, the company’s own sales units are complemented in a hybrid sales organisation by an actively selling inside sales team working on the phone. It takes on the proactive communication with the assigned outside sales force customers, who used to be managed only sporadically previously, under its own responsibility.
Thanks to the hybrid model, the outside sales force can focus on the largest customers in its region.
Let us assume that each outside sales representative (sales rep) in our example has about 100 customers. The sales rep can easily manage about 30 customers depending on the region and customer configuration. An actively selling inside sales employee can actively manage between 350 and 500 customers in this example.
Thus, it results that an inside sales employee has a responsibility for 5-8 sales reps.
The inside sales employee coordinates with the sales rep, best moderated by you as the sales director, and receives customers that can be managed only sporadically by the sales rep. Optimally, the sales rep supplements the existing CRM information about the customer with his or her own personal experiences. It is determined jointly in the hand-off meeting when it is sensible to send the sales rep to the customer. You have already defined this at the management level. But it is important additionally to get the “buy-in” from the sales rep here.
The customers that the inside sales employee receives are his or her target customers. This means: he has the main responsibility for the sustainable growth of this customer group. Nonetheless, both employees are obligated to pursue a shared goal – usually sales contribution and/or contribution margin. This serves to raise the acceptance of the sales rep and lets both act as a team.
The potential additional costs from the first year can be compensated accordingly by raising the goals in the coming years. The inside sales employee regularly exchanges information with the sales rep as needed in the work together on the customer. Moreover, the inside sales employee should also participate in the sales team meetings.
Another tip: Make it clear from the outset that the actively selling inside sales employee is not there to do administrative work for the outside sales representative!
Option one is a long and hard road that will be rewarded with success in the end only if you already have office staffers at this time, whose hearts beat for sales. Option two, as well, requires lots of time and additionally eats up a substantial personnel budget. Therefore, option three is closely suggested for many businesses. This takes you to your goal the quickest with a transparent investment.
If a company decides to purchase an external sales infrastructure, higher sales figures with identical costs of sales are guaranteed. This is made possible by the high degree of efficiency and specialisation with which the sales service providers can work on challenges such as actively selling inside sales in a hybrid model.
Practical tip: With the accordingly trained external sales team, success can be reached more quickly than tediously raising the motivation of your own sales team. Besides, your own sales team should be able to concentrate on the core competence of large customer management.
We will be happy to implement a hybrid model with you and also establish contact with one of our customers, because references often help seeing things more clearly.