Building Inside Sales
Fast Search & Transfer™ (FAST™) is a leading developer of enterprise search technologies and solutions. Michael Tupanjanin, FAST’s Senior Vice President Sales for North America & Europe, knew that he could increase the productivity and effectiveness of his field sales force by refocusing his existing inside sales team exclusively on demand generation. He engaged The Bridge Group, a group of highly skilled inside sales consultants, for this endeavor. Within the first month of operation, the new inside sales group were able to produce high quality leads that turned into large revenue opportunities and closed business by the end of their first quarter of operation.
Here Michael and Silvana Sears, FAST’s Director of Inside Sales, provide their insights on this engagement, along with highlights of the successes that FAST has experienced as a result of the efforts of The Bridge Group.
Refocusing for Greater Productivity
When Michael Tupanjanin joined FAST, the small inside sales team that was in place was responsible for closing business over the phone, which was a very demanding challenge, given the complex nature of FAST’s products and services. Michael quickly realized that they would be more productive and add more value if he focused their efforts exclusively on pipeline development. A key driver behind this decision was Michael’s desire to increase the efficiency of his field sales organization by freeing them up to close business rather than working on finding the next sales opportunity.
For the transition of the inside sales group, Michael turned to The Bridge Group, who he had worked with previously, with great success. As Michael explains, “I knew The Bridge Group had the expertise, the skills, and the knowledge to build the kind of inside sales group that I needed in order to successfully meet the aggressive sales goals I have.”
At Michael’s request, The Bridge Group came in, evaluated the existing situation, and put together a proposal for a team that would easily meet Michael’s – and FAST’s – revenue goals and objectives.
Building The Right Team From the Ground Up
In the initial stages of the engagement, The Bridge Group explored Michael’s vision for the new group and evaluated the skills of the existing inside sales staff. They also became familiar with the selling challenges of FAST’s technology and reviewed the processes that supported their internal sales structure.
Based on their findings, The Bridge Group then proceeded to build and implement a lead and demand generation strategy. They provided recommendations for the number of reps that the group should have in order to meet their sales targets, the supporting processes to support successful outbound calling, metrics for measuring the success of each rep and appropriate compensations plans. The Bridge Group also created a Sales Playbook, which defined and documented each process and sales tool that the group would need in order to be successful. Finally, The Bridge Group trained and coached the existing reps and new hires on the new lead and demand generation processes.
To ensure ongoing success, The Bridge Group recruited Silvana Sears as Director of Inside Sales. Silvana worked closely with The Bridge Group to implement their recommendations. As Silvana notes, “There was a very strong foundation for the insides sales organization in place when I came on board at FAST and I was able to take the processes that The Bridge Group had initiated and fine tune them in a way that ensured the greatest amount of success for my group.”
Success Comes Quickly to FAST
FAST’s inside sales group is now fully focused on pipeline development, with 70% of their time spent on following up on leads from marketing programs and initiatives. For the remaining 30% of the time, the inside sales reps take a proactive role and develop strategic calling plans for targeted accounts in their territories.
FAST’s field sales reps are very enthusiastic about the support they are now getting. According to Silvana, “The reps really value the fact that someone on the inside is doing the prospecting for them. They don’t have time to do this themselves so, with the support of the inside reps, they can now focus on the leads that are truly qualified and work through deals in their pipeline. They see tremendous value here.”
Michael and Silvana see the synergy between the inside sales team and the field sales reps showing up where it’s most important – in closed business and increased revenue. In fact, within the first quarter of the implementation of the group, significant results were becoming apparent. As Silvana shares, “A recently hired inside sales rep passed a lead to a field rep that closed within 30 days for a significant amount of revenue – this was phenomenal, considering that our average sales cycle is 6 months or longer.”
Michael adds, “The inside sales group really took to the phones a little over three months ago and already we have had several deals close a result of their efforts. And for this current quarter, over 40% of the deals in the pipeline are a result of opportunities that were uncovered by the inside sales team. This includes seven or eight that are on the books right now, including one very large opportunity with a multi-billion dollar consumer company. This is incredible and I am very pleased with these efforts.”
A Well-Earned Reputation
Both Michael and Silvana have come to respect The Bridge Group for their knowledge, expertise, and breadth of experience. Silvana comments, “The Bridge Group consultants are truly experts at what they do – they have done this for a long time, and they have done it successfully.” Michael shares Silvana’s views and adds, “I called The Bridge Group in because they understand the business and they have it down to a science. They know what needs to be done, they know what tools are needed in order for an operation to work smoothly and seamlessly, and they proved that once again here at FAST.”
Silvana concludes with these thoughts, “The Bridge Group is not only good at building organizations from the ground up, but they are also very good at going in and fixing things that are already existing but broken and not functioning properly. If anyone ever called me and said they were looking to start an inside sales team and wanted help, The Bridge Group is who I would think of first.”