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The Future is Bright, The Future is Digital: Notes on an Inside Sales Conference, Inside Sales World 2016

Last week my colleague and I headed out to Dublin for the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals’ (AA-ISP) Inside Sales World Annual European event. What we discovered should give pause for thought to every Sales Director.

Clare Warren, Head of Sales and Marketing
Kevin Byrne, Senior Business Development Manager

Outside of Ireland you could be forgiven for thinking that Inside Sales was still ‘something the yanks do’, a fancy term for telemarketing, the Emperor’s new clothes if you like, or a fad. But in Ireland, this is big business.

Organisations large and small are ‘popping up’ Inside Sales teams like Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. IBM, Intel, Oracle, Dell have been long standing players but new arrivals such as SAS, BA, Smartbear and MathWorks are joining the club. And. established players such as Microsoft are planning a huge operational transition to centralise their entire EMEA Inside Sales function in Dublin. And they are not alone, as others too look at centralising this function in one geography to serve the region.

Of course, one of the consequences of so many big brands congregating in Ireland to build these functions is the pressure it’s putting on the talent market. Not surprisingly, one of the recurring themes we heard both in and out of the conference was difficulty finding people. Ireland is not short of talent. That’s not the issue - it simply can’t keep up with demand. Competition for Inside Sales Agents is fierce, with pages and pages of jobs advertised on Google every day. The digital technology sector in Ireland employs more than 30,000 people with total sales of €2bn per annum, so you begin to get a sense of just how big this particular big business is there.

This of course got us thinking about what’s going on here: why has Dublin become the hotspot for these Inside Sales teams, how can it possibly continue to support the growth and how can medium size companies get in on the act while de-risking their approach? And finally all importantly, what is Inside Sales and what distinguishes it from traditional telesales?

All this and more we examine in detail in our Insider Perspective of the same title, but in this post, we wanted to capture a few high level thoughts.

When we stepped away from the conference bubble we were still left feeling, that with huge competition for Inside Sales professionals, particularly in Ireland where ‘big guns’ such as Dell, SAP, Vodafone, Intel compete with ‘young guns’ such as Marketo, Linked In, Qualtrics, Smartbear and Paypal, the shrinking talent pool will only become more keenly felt. Where then, should companies looking to take their first few tentative steps into Inside Sales go to build their teams? 

Unsurprisingly, we were caught questioning whether medium sized firms were not better off outsourcing the function, temporarily, as they test the model or event permanently, as many of our clients both large and small, have already chosen to do. 

Although the Emperor does have new digitally enhanced clothes, the fundamentals of selling over the phone have been around for close to half a century. As an agency managing on-going Inside Sales teams as large as 20 agents, we know all about the challenges of recruiting, training, managing and incentivising these teams – we’ve been doing this for 26 years.

The AA-ISP Inside Sales Conference 2016 was genuinely fascinating, the conference content was excellent, the speakers each shared compelling insight into how and why Inside Sales is experiencing such exponential growth. It didn’t however, offer much on what to do, if you want to ‘buy', rather than 'build’ your team. We think, we offer a ready-made solution. 

We’re experienced and we have the right technology. Moreover, we are multi-lingual and we have a pool of highly trained and educated agents hungry to make your Inside Sales team a success.

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