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The face of sales has changed drastically over the past decade thanks in large part to advances in technology. When we used to picture a sales position, the image often encompassed a professional salesperson that travelled a territory and personally called on prospects or long-term clients. Now, many of those functions are being handled in-house.

In fact, the growth in internal sales positions today is three times that of traditional outside sales. Here is how the inside sales position has evolved and the role that technology is playing in this new dynamic.

How Inside Sales Has Evolved

Inside sales isn’t the same thing as a telemarketer. There is a common misnomer that an inside salesperson is nothing more than a low-paid desk jockey that repeats the same sales pitch into their phone receiver to anyone who will listen.

True inside salespeople are highly trained professionals who don’t work off of a script. Instead, they adapt to the wants and needs of their buyers by using available data. The key ingredient among both the growth and effectiveness of inside sales are the technology tools that allow them to produce at the highest level possible.

How Technology Has Increased the Demand for Inside Sales

Now that we can find information about and purchase almost anything on the internet, the idea that someone would need to show up at your business to present a new product seems almost archaic. It’s no secret that a majority of consumers now research major purchases online, but this has also moved into the business realm. According to one survey, 68% of B2B customers are now using the internet, and ¬†86% of B2B sales organizations now offer online sales.

This shift isn’t just about making a one-click sale a possibility, however. There is still a need for salespeople in most organization, but they’ll have to be ready to address a different buyer dynamic. The availability of video and web conferencing tools now makes it possible for an inside salesperson to hold virtual meetings that don’t require airline travel, hotels, and expense accounts.

Speaking of the virtual world, virtual reality (VR) is now being used as an effective sales tool in many industries. Clients or prospects can don a VR headset to demo a product or walk through a real estate development that is still in the conception phase. The best part is that the salesperson can also enter that VR space to continue the conversation.

What the Future Holds for Inside Sales

Inside salespeople are just beginning to make use of technology advances in big data to get the most information possible about both their markets and their customers.  Incorporating data science into the fabric of an inside sales team is critical with all the business intelligence available today.

There are already some pilot projects underway, where artificial intelligence (AI) is being employed to both help identify new prospects and better speak to a client’s particular wants and needs. According to Google, mobile search has taken over traditional search in the U.S. This means that we’ll start to see an increase in inbound sales calls from “click-to-call” technology.

The tech tools available today allow these salespeople to save time, money, and other resources while increasing the company’s client base and boosting its bottom line. The most successful businesses in the future are the ones that are adapting to these fast-moving changes and embracing technology in the sales process.