The sales process, in the same way as any other process, benefits from specialization. When you allow your inside sales team to find an area of focus that best suits their skill set and help them refine their process, they will flourish in their new sales roles.

When you consider how to build and expand your inside sales team, it is important to have clearly defined sales roles within the team. It will help guide your hiring process, performance targets, pipeline mapping, on-boarding and training programs.

Consider carefully if your inside sales team is likely to field inbound calls or whether they will be making outbound prospecting calls as well. Are they likely to spend most of their time trying to find new customers and prospects, or will they be working with existing customers and looking to up-sell and cross-sell?

When defining key inside sales roles, many organizations align themselves around answering a set of key questions from prospects:

  • Why do anything?
  • Why do it now?
  • Why do it with us?

If you include customer success and account management, you may also add:

  • Why continue to work with us?

Sales development (or inside sales) activity can be centered around answering the first question and to some extent a portion of the second. Your account executives can then pick up and address the question of “why do it with us?”

Many businesses have traditionally used a ‘sales handles everything’ approach. However, that practice has evolved. Organizations today realize they can improve performance by using telemarketers to qualify and discover leads and a sales team to close business. Many businesses organize their teams into four key sales roles as illustrated below:

Inside Sales Development and Sales Roles -  Graphic

1) Qualifiers – Sales Development Outbound Reps

1) Qualifiers – Sales Development Outbound Reps

Outbound reps work through lists of assigned contacts and businesses. They align with objectives such as talk time, calls made, meetings booked and successful hand-offs to account executives. Outbound reps are critical to uncovering new opportunities.

2) Qualifiers – Sales Development Inbound Reps

2) Qualifiers – Sales Development Inbound Reps

In conjunction with working on outbound tasks as detailed above, this team follows up on leads that have proactively engaged with your business – those that may have downloaded a piece of content from your website, requested a quote or called your toll free number.

3) Closers – Account Executives

3) Closers – Account Executives

These are the closers of your sales team. Often aligned to key geographical or vertical markets, they are skilled at educating prospects, objection handling and negotiating service agreements. Account executives will work opportunities found by outbound reps through to closure and oversee all elements of the sales transaction.

4) Farmers – Customer Success / Account Management

4) Farmers – Customer Success / Account Management

Once deals are closed, new customers are introduced to your customer success team. This part of your sales team retains customers by ensuring they get the most from your product and services and then upsells by demonstrating the value of new products and services.


Find what your team members are good at and wherever possible allow them to specialize in that area, they will reward you for it.

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