Navigating Inside and Outside Sales in a Pandemic

BY Rachel Cagle
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Since the pandemic first hit its full swing in March, most sales reps throughout the country began to worry about their sales pipeline. Between inside and outside sales, outside deals were among the top concern. Why? What does outside sales mean? Basically, outside sales are those made outside the office through face-​to-​face meetings. Now that COVID-​19 has the entire country social distancing, sales have switched to primarily inside sales, or sales that can be made from inside an office via telephone, video calls, email, etc.

The longer COVID-​19 remains at large, the more difficult it will be to maintain a healthy pipeline and, therefore, steady sales. This is especially true if, between inside and outside sales, you've been focusing on outside sales strategies. However, Anand Shah, writing for SellingPower, says that there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to maintain a healthy sales pipeline.

Deciding Between Inside and Outside Sales

Outside sales strategies may be your strong suit, but we're in the middle of a pandemic. You need to learn to switch your strategy to inside sales. Review your notes on each of your client's preferred forms of contact and choose the inside sales strategy format that works best for them. Then, do some training of your own to perfect your communication and selling skills using this medium. The best inside sales companies will offer this kind of training so ask your manager for help.

Ask Yourself How Your Clients Make Money

Have your clients’ businesses been hit hard by the COVID-​19 pandemic? How many have had to completely shut down operations for now or needed to completely restructure their process concerning inside and outside sales in order to keep closing deals during this time? They may be asking themselves, "What does outside sales mean for our bottom line?" Most of the prospects and clients in your sales pipeline are going through one of the most difficult times of their entire careers, but that doesn’t mean that they’re against making purchases. “The only thing most companies care about right now is making or saving money,” says Shah. If you do your research on a prospect’s or client’s revenue streams and discover that you can still help them make money, it’s time to take action. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until the economy is in a better place to make a sale, lest you appear insensitive and ruin the possibility of a future sale.

Analyze the Risks of the Client’s Business

Like most businesses, this year, your prospects and clients are likely taking company-​saving action in the form of layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts or decreases in hours. They’re doing this to lower the risk of damaging the company beyond repair. “As you look to your sales pipeline, remember that your job now is to assist your customers in alleviating the pain of this down cycle,” says Shah. “Doing so demands that you have intimate, up-​to-​date insight into their crisis response strategies.” Investor updates can give you insight into the steps the company is taking. From there, you'll need to rely on your inside sales skills to provide the best deals, if they are still buying, and the best customer service, if they have slowed down their activity level. Remember that the best inside sales companies may use different tactics, but their goals are the same as those who rely on outside sales tactics. They strive to offer relevant value based on their knowledge of the business.