The inside sales representative is often an unsung hero in many companies, and that is a shame. In many ways they are one of the absolute keys to revenue and the whole sales operation. Sometimes referred to as a different title (sales support, etc), here we will look at the value of ISR’s and also the possibility of converting an ISR to a sales engineer.
The first job I had out of college was as an inside sales rep. I had my Bachelor of Science degree, but this was my first “real” job. The truth is that inside sales is often an entry-level position at many companies- and there is nothing wrong with that. Some people remain as ISR’s their entire career, others manage an inside sales team, and others convert into outside sales/ account managers or possibly to sales engineers. More about that later.
Being quick on your feet, and solving problems
What did I learn in inside sales? Plenty, including:
product/service knowledge – technical
company structure/ who does what
working alongside an outside/field sales person
solving client problems / answering questions
quoting & proposals
dealing with our service or product providers
The truth is that all of these skills are needed to become a good sales engineer, or to become an account manager or account executive.
I recall many times throughout my career in outside sales or as a project manager- when I needed my supplier or some material, 85% of the time my first call was to “my” inside sales person at that company. They had the answers. They answered the phone (imagine that!). They got things done quickly. They valued me as a customer. In many cases, the times that I did reach out first to my account manager- all they did was hang up the phone and then call that same inside sales person!
For the company at-large, there is great value in simply engaging constantly with your inside sales team; they speak to more of your customers on a daily or weekly basis than any other position. They know the pain points of many of your clients. They know that the new upgraded widget won’t sell because it is too expensive (10 of you customers have told them so in the past month).
In summary, as a former inside sales rep and one who has relied on the ISR for most of my career, let’s give a virtual round of applause to this very needed, yet sometimes underappreciated, role! (And hiring managers- worth taking a look at these people for sales engineer openings….)