I spoke to seasoned sales expert and InsideSales.com President and Founder Ken Krogue about a variety of topics around inside sales as well as his product, InsideSales.com. InsideSales.com is cloud-based sales acceleration platform featuring the PowerDialer™ which is the only cross-platform, cross-browser dialing solution integrated directly into Salesforce.com. These guys are absolutely the real deal.
Anyways, here are the details of our conversation:
Elizabeth: Tell me a little bit about your journey as an entrepreneur and your background:
Ken: I started out selling computers back in the tech boom and worked my way up and moved quickly into the inside sales department for Franklin Quest before they merged with Steven Covey’s organization. During that time we were the second fastest growing company in America and our inside sales department was the fastest growing department in the company. We saw a future in selling remotely and selling over the phone. During that time I knew that would go big and I met with our technology person about what technologies we could add to improve the process – that was in 1993 and Insidesales.com represents all the technologies I wish I had back then.
Elizabeth: What’s the story behind InsideSales.com?
Ken: I was at another company that I helped start that’s now called In Contact and one day we heard that my old Franklin friend Mike Selton’s company might be available. We ended up buying his company, which had the technology around automating the dialing process and we knew we needed to blend it with a way to keep track of all the leads. I went to lunch with Dave back in 2004 who had a full development company, so we decided to blend our technologies together and we came up with the name Insidesales.com. We wanted to be the first company in the world to blend dialer technology with CRM software. We bought the name from a guy who needed money right before Christmas and it worked out really well. By the first week of January 2005 we had the website up and things took off. Since that time we’ve done a lot of really powerful research and that’s our calling card – we’re hoping to research key problems and give answers to salespeople.
Elizabeth: How do you see the progression of your product and CRM since 2005?
Ken: A lot of the new technologies are starting to converge together. Things like gamification are really exciting. The biggest impact is probably predictive analytics – where you can combine the power of the computer with the power of statistics and numbers. We use the power of science to improve the productivity of a sales person.
Elizabeth: Please describe what your product does in more detail:
Ken: The best way describe it, is we help salespeople be dramatically more productive. We help them make more calls, send more emails, know who to call. One of the big breakthroughs is that we’ve pioneered the ability to call people back really fast. The average callback time from a company is 39 hours – you probably forgot what you were calling about in that time.
We built a technology that helps call back in a minute to five minutes. It makes people more productive, faster – sort of like an Iron Man suit – there’s still a normal person inside, but they’re wrapped in the power of technology.
Elizabeth: What are some of your best inside/remote sales practices?
Ken: The fact that you used the word remote is powerful. We think inside sales is NOT telemarketing. It is professional inside sales done remotely.
A big tip is to mimic the face-to-face sales call but do it remotely. Let people see your face – let them get to know you. We even put our pictures in our email signature and we try to use video as much as possible.
I’ll share our 7 rules for inside sales –
1. Do everything really fast, get back to people quickly.
2. Be pleasantly persistent. The average sales person only calls back about 10 times before they give up.
3. People are too busy. We found that you need to be persistent and follow up between 6-9 times.
4. We recommend that people also combine the phone call with an email, LinkedIn, etc. In fact, we found that LinkedIn is 7 times more powerful than email with the same content.
5. The best time of day to call people if you want to reach them is in the morning or in the late afternoon.
6. The best days of the week to call people are Wednesdays or Thursdays. In fact, the worst day of the week is Tuesday.
7. Get people’s direct dial phone number if you’re trying to reach them. We use a little technology we call Local Presence to call from a local caller ID. We found a 57% higher answer rate if you’re calling from a local caller ID.
Those are some of the tips that we found to be the most powerful.
Elizabeth: What’s your favorite sales tool?
Ken: Our favorite tool of all is Salesforce.com. That’s the platform that everyone builds on and we found it to be the best. They’re our favorite partner. Right after that is LinkedIn – we think it’s one of the most powerful tools ever invented for sales. Of course we love our technology. It implements and helps people be far more productive. One of the tools I’m playing with right now that I’m excited about is work.com – Social Performance Management from SalesForce.com.
For more information on Ken Krogue and InsideSales.com check out these links: