queueInside Sales teams are rapidly replacing traditional sales teams.  This approach to sales is resulting in significant productivity gains, improvements in responsiveness to prospects and customers, and cost savings.  It also introduces an ability to have a much tighter and more buyer-driven sales process.  But it also requires some rethinking of the tools used in CRM to support the sales function.

Activity planning and management is one of those areas.

The Problem with Task Management for Inside Sales

An inside sales team will often need to have tasks scheduled in the future so that they can identify opportunities in a timely fashion.  Some of these follow-up tasks may lead directly to a new sale, others may support Marketing or other functions on revenue generation teams - which can then nurture relationships until the customer or prospect is ready to engage.  Follow-up tasks, for example, may include: 

  • Identifying who has replaced a key contact at a client or prospect (these events can present key moments to win a new relationship)
  • Finding the new employer that a contact has moved to (again, a key event)
  • Following up 30, 60, 90+ days after someone has attended an event, received a proposal, etc

Companies typically use workflows in their CRM solution to automate these processes by assigning tasks or phone calls to the original Inside Sales rep.

The problem is that this Inside Sales rep may not be the best person to handle the follow-up when the time comes.  They may have a long list of other tasks, they may have been reassigned, they may specialize in a different part of the process, or they may have left the company.

The traditional solution to this problem is to reassign records to a new rep.  But this, too, is an incomplete solution in the age of the Inside Sales Rep.

Why are these approaches incomplete?  Because Inside Sales teams tend to work together as a unit that manages all relationships, rather than the traditional sales paradigm of each customer (or prospect) being owned by a sales rep.   

This is where the concept of queues can make the difference.

What is a Queue?

The word queue is pronounced like cue (like a pool cue).

The term is often used when describing a line or a list.  You may have heard people saying something like, “there is a long queue of customers at the counter right now.”

In your CRM solution, think of a queue as a shared task list.  Rather than an individual owning a task, a team can have access to the entire queue of tasks.  When a rep becomes available, they can “claim” an item off of the top of a queue – at which point it becomes assigned to them and remains open until they complete it.  If the rep gets side-tracked with other issues, the item can be put back into the queue for someone else to handle.

Different queues can be created for different roles, specialties or levels of urgency.  Using this approach a team can work the most critical tasks first, such as working all items in the "Proposal Follow Up Queue" before working any items in the "Follow Up on Webinar Attendance" queue.

Using the Queue

Most modern CRM solutions include the concept of queues.  As with all things CRM, start simple.  Create a queue and pilot it with just one or two Inside Sales Reps.  Gradually roll it out to the rest of the team, and expand the usage of queues.  Long-term, this will ensure that important tasks don’t slip through the cracks, and that individual reps don’t get overwhelmed with an impossibly long list of activities.

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