When the Inside Sales Rep Became an Account Manager

If you are a sales manager and have a team that is banging down doors to find new customers for your company, please don’t be offended. These are only my observations of the transformation of inside sales representatives over the past few years at a couple of the largest software companies in the US and the world.

Things have been relatively good for the technology industry over the past few years. Inside sales reps are hitting their numbers, or at least performing at a respectable level, and companies are happy. However, when money becomes scarce and budgets tighten up or disappear, so do your reps’ pipelines and deals. Sales reps in these organizations spend more time learning how to achieve their quota without having to prospect, create value, acquire product and industry knowledge, build an ROI case, and sell in competitive situations.

The problem for these organizations arises when the economy tightens up a bit and money is less available, so budgets either shrink or tighten up. Now your quota achieving reps are back on their heels with deteriorating pipelines and deals dropping off the table left and right. This exposes that no one is hunting for new business and customers, and that the skills that it takes to develop new business for a company have been neglected. At a time when new customer acquisition is so critical for the growth of a company, no one wants to, or has been trained to, hunt down new business and run a sales cycle from introduction to close.

Creative migrations, upgrades, license re-configurations, side-grades and downgrades (often resulting in losses for the support team) and deep discounts for licenses that may or may not be needed now or in the near future are all great ways to manufacture enough deals to get you to your number.

I have a lot of respect for account managers that are responsible for manufacturing new deals within current accounts and expanding your company’s footprint within a particular account, but ultimately, there is only so much revenue you can generate from one customer. For a company to continue to organically grow its customer base, there needs to be a team accountable for contributing new customer revenue to the bottom line. Unless your marketing team is killing it and handing you blue bird new customer inbound leads, your company needs to have a resource (internal or external) that is focused on new business development and nothing else!

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