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    The inside sales evolution - managing complex deals in a remote sales world

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    The classic face-to-face meeting is becoming less and less common these days. You must, as an organization, be equipped to navigate b2b deals in an increasingly remote sales environment. Can your field sales excel when they're moved off the road? Can your inside sales people manage the transition from a transactional to complex sales logic?

    There are many advantages to the inside sales migration. Have you equipped your sales team with the conditions they need to excel in their new environment?

    The polarization of sales has been well documented. On the one hand, transactional sales of commodity products – where price and volume dictate the terms - is being automated online and quickly rendering sales people obsolete.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, selling high ticket B2B items is becoming increasingly complex. Sales cycles are getting longer, more stakeholders are involved in each purchasing decision and suppliers are only invited into the buyer’s journey once extensive research and short listing has already taken place.

    In parallel, sales people are being taken off the field and moved inside. The combination of these developments poses a tremendous challenge to sales organizations: their inside sales reps, used to managing high-volume, transactional sales in one-call close environments are losing relevance. Field sales people are being moved inside and can no longer rely on their old ways of reaching quota. Instead, they need to find a new home in front of computers and learn how to master the remote sale – leveraging social media platforms and virtual networks while skillfully using sales and marketing tools for the internet age.

    What skills are needed to become a virtual trusted advisor in a noisy, online world? What tools are required to help your sales team address these challenges and transition into new roles? Let’s take a closer look at some of the proven success factors with complex deals.


    "70% of sales organizations do not have a program in place to ensure coaching is consistently delivered. To stay ahead, coaching needs to be at the top of your priority list."
    Fredrik Jonsson

    According to Sales Benchmark Index, sales coaching improves performance by up to 28%. Unfortunately, 70% of sales organizations do not have a program in place to ensure coaching is consistently delivered. Despite its proven benefits, coaching is constantly losing rank in our agendas, in favor of what we believe are more pressing matters. To stay ahead, coaching needs to be at the top of your priority list.

    Inbound lead generation & marketing automation

    Every sales organization needs more and better leads. In an online world, a crucial component in lead generation will be how successful you are at driving visitors to your website and convert said visitors to inbound leads. Moreover, automated marketing campaigns should help guide and nurture your leads to a point where they are ready to be contacted by sales. Having the skills and marketing platforms to manage these processes will be central to winning new business.

    The importance of qualification

    While more leads are important, they do not automatically turn into paying customers. To avoid bloated pipelines and missed forecasts, your sales people need to thoroughly qualify each lead to determine if it is worth pursuing as a sales opportunity. There needs to be clear and concise qualification criteria, as well as an agreed upon opportunity definition to make sure your sales people invest their time, money and resources where it matters.

    Building prospecting campaigns

    In B2B sales, getting hold of the right people takes time – anywhere from 7 to 13 contact attempts may be required before you can even begin asking your qualifying questions. Building and implementing a prospecting campaign with established contact dates, the right mix of activity types and supporting material for each contact point will be key to consistently generating new opportunities.

    Put your sales process front and center

    Sales process is a proven success factor in B2B sales. Teams that adopts a defined sales process outperform the competition, increasing their conversion rates by up to 48% and shortening their sales cycle with as much as 37%. Documenting the mandatory milestones and to-do’s needed to bring an opportunity to a close will be crucial to ensure you guide your sales people all the way through.


    Traditional reports and KPI’s must be complemented with metrics that help convert data into insight. Win/Loss analytics will be crucial to understand what types of deals you have a greater chance of winning, and under which circumstances you should stay away and qualify out. Only measuring activity levels without tracking the effectiveness of said activities – such as conversion rates and milestones achieved - will not be enough.

    In summary, sales is undergoing a transformation. A new skill set, as well as a new tool belt, is needed to transform your sales team into virtual trusted advisors that remotely manage and navigate the political landscapes and decision committees of a complex B2B sale.

    How have you prepared for this transition? What lessons have you learned from the process? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

    Fredrik Jonsson
    Published November 12, 2014
    By Fredrik Jonsson

    You know people that get excited about things like pomodoros and timeboxing strategies? Fredrik is one of them. He's also a former freelance writer and subsequently a man of many words. Words used to help companies take action on better ways to increase sales effectivenes. Fredrik is our Chief Content Officer at Membrain, the world's first sales software helping companies move from merely having a sales strategy towards executing it on a daily basis.

    Find out more about Fredrik Jonsson on LinkedIn