In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the importance of infusing a human touch in inside sales. Field sales have paved the practices we use in inside sales, so it is important to know the benefits of field sales. Personal connection, clear demonstrations, effective on-the-spot communication cannot be easily applied to inside sales. So what are some techniques to keep things personal with insides sales? Tune in as Steli and Hiten provide their key tips to keep your interaction with customers personal in insides sales.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
- 00:05 – Today’s episode is about how to infuse a human touch in everything you do when it comes to inside sales
- 00:33 – Steli shares how he wanted to talk about this topic because there is a lot of automation now in sales that may be the cause of field sales dying
- 01:10 – Field sales is selling your product in person
- 01:21 – Hiten used to disrespect field sales, but learned that everything we know about inside sales came from field sales
- 02:20 – There is a lot to learn from traditional field sales including methodology and marketing
- 03:24 – When Steli arrived at Silicon Valley, in 2007, everything was about scalability and automation
- 04:09 – Steli is glad that this trend is reversing and more founders are realizing the value of things that do not scale
- 05:33 – Relationships matter, human-to-human interactions matter—especially when the deals are bigger
- 06:15 – Steli is a huge fan of inside sales and thinks using technology can improve your productivity because you are not limited by your physical environment
- 07:30 – There is a cost associated with inside sales and this is the loss of human element in the relationship building part of selling
- 08:25 – You understand your customer better in doing field sales
- 09:33 – You want to infuse humanity in your marketing because it will make people buy what you are selling
- 10:47 – Hiten shares how something got lost in the automation process from field sales to inside sales
- 11:23 – There is a bigger impact in getting the door slammed on your face than sending an email and not getting a response
- 11:40 – There is better interaction and emotion involved in field sales that cannot be replicated in inside sales
- 12:35 – When someone uses your technology, you might be doing better at pitching your product
- 13:25 – Websites can now integrate your business name, look at Segment
- 14:15 – Audio recordings are also being used to review the sales process
- 15:17 – Field sales can get the full attention of the customer
- 15:32 – Online sales will not get the full attention of the customer
- 16:10 – People are usually doing other things online even when you are talking to them
- 16:39 – Salespeople are also doing this while talking to customers
- 17:20 – When you are talking to people, you should give all your attention to them and this will make you more attuned to them
- 17:40 – Steli shares a tip on how to get someone’s attention when talking to them online
- 18:33 – For more resources, message Steli at email or Twitter
- 18:50 – Another tip from Steli is find a way of infusing humanity in your email by including your email signature with something personal and unique about you
- 19:30 – Aaron Ross’ e-mail newsletter always ends with a story about his family and includes pictures
- 20:25 – Steli is still on Aaron’s e-mail list because of the things he shares
- 21:19 – Hiten says Close.Io’s blog has not been updated in 18 days
- 22:11 – Close.Io has a lot of resources on how to personalize sales
- 22:48 – There is a glitch in the dates of the blog, but Steli will work on it
- 23:01 – End of today’s episode!
3 Key Points:
- The knowledge people have from doing inside sales came from the methodologies and practices of field sales—give credit where credit is due.
- The human touch is important in sales, because it is what people respond to and connect with.
- Make your emails personal or blog as a way to connect with your clientele.
Steli: Hi, this is Hiten and this is Steli and in today’s episode of The Solid Tip we’re going to talk about how to make your inside sales forces more human or how to infuse a human touch in everything you do when it comes to inside sales. And the reason why I wanted to talk to you about this Hiten is that, we both see a lot of sales companies that are developing their marketing and sales teams from scratch. We’re going to see a lot of technology that’s out there today, increasingly, I mean I’m building a lot of that technology, but there’s a lot of sales automation, AI in sales, bots, just like automation, scalability, technology in sales in general.
Hiten : Dude, we both have sales teams.
Steli: We both have sales teams, there you go. I read everywhere in these headlines on like field sales is that and inside sales is taking over the world and I do agree with this. And for people who don’t know the definition of field sales, is when you have to physically go out to the customer to sell them, in person. Right? So it doesn’t …
Hiten : Can I pause you for a second there?
Steli: Yeah, sure, yeah.
Hiten : You know, it’s amazing to me how much I disrespected field sales when I first started staff.
Hiten : And the reason is, it made me feel like I had to go and do all this effort and talk to customers and go in front of them and sell them that way and go to their office and have like twenty meetings with them. As I started actually learning and doing much more about inside sales many years ago, I realized everything we know about inside sales came from field sale. All of it. Cause that’s how people started. I mean just think about even selling vacuum cleaners door to door. What is that Stelly? Isn’t that field sales? Right?
Steli: That is the definition of field sales, yes.
Hiten : Yeah, yeah. So I have a healthy respect. So I just wanted to pause you and say I have a massive healthy respect for that because I realized as I dug in that all these things, like predictable revenue and all this stuff … And I can trash anything really easily. I’m not trashing it to be clear. But I am gonna trash it for a second. All this bullshit it came from fields sales. If you go read about traditional enterprise field sales you’ll learn a lot more about sales than any other method. Or even like vacuum cleaner sales, right? And selling door to door. Those are the methodologies, everything we know about sales comes from there. And a lot of us who are technology folks, building , doing inside sales teams or worse yet not having sales teams, because some of my companies don’t have them. We don’t understand that even the principle that you do with marketing around like promoting your site, doing product marketing, converting people to paid. They come from field sales, they come from door to door sales. We need to have a healthy respect for that. So, anyways, let’s make quick rounds about why this is important and why I love this topic.
Steli: No I love it. I love it and I’m so glad that you brought this up because one of the things that I’m really happy about … Like there’s a lot of things when it comes to start up culture that have gotten better, there are some things that we’ve gotten worse in, but one thing I’m glad to see, kind of a trend that is reversing. And I know that you had a big hand in this, and I try to play my part as well is that I remember when I arrived in Silicone Valley in 2007. Everything was about scalability and everything … Like whenever you talked to people, whenever anyone’s mind entered the idea of going to talk to a human to figure something out or showing people, in any way that’s not pushing a button online and making it go boom and making it go viral and setting up a system that’s automated. People would like look down on it and go, “Well that doesn’t scale.” Like that was the thing that everybody would throw around at any tactic that didn’t include the word viral or automated in it. People would just go, “Well that doesn’t scale.” Like, shut the fuck up first of all and second of all … I love that I think I see this trend as reversing because today I see as written about doing things that don’t scale. I’ve written about this and talked about this a lot. You’ve talked about this a lot. And I find that today it’s still there, there’s so often that founders will talk to me and go, “Do I really have to leave the building and go and talk to people? Like, that seems like a lot of work for very little payoff. Can’t I just set up a landing page and send a million people to it?” So there’s still some resistance to it, but I find that more and more founders realize the value of doing some thing that don’t scale and the value of talking to people in person. And field sales, man that’s a tough job, and there’s a lot of value that’s been created. And you know of course would I tell you if you do sale and the dollar amount is selling something that costs $25 a month would I tell you to go door to door and knock on people’s houses? Probably not, right? Although it might enlighten you and educate you in the early days just from a customer development point of view. But in many areas today, enterprise sales for instance, when the dollar amounts of millions and millions of dollars of a deal, people that go and they play golf with the CQO of a fortune 500 company, for a year before they close the deal. It’s not that they’re all idiots, it’s not they all don’t know anything better and youth discovered this way to sell in a scalable way and they just still live in a caveman world. It’s that relationships matter, and human to human interaction matters. And the bigger the dollar amounts the more the value we talk about, the more complex the sale, the more it matters to truly have relationships and understand the customer and the full context of how to make decisions in all that. And the less you can just automate and viral it to death. Anyways, this is the rant on that and I love that you brought up that you were looking down at field sales people. I think that that’s something most people, most founders in the tech space probably have in common with you. But most of them don’t have the self awareness to overcome that or even the wisdom and authenticity to even say it out loud. So I love that you say that. And I’m a huge fan of inside sales, right? I build inside sales software. It’s not that I say using email, using the phone, using virtual meeting software, using social media. I’m not saying using all these technologies is a bad idea. Because it’s not.
Hiten : Not at all.
Steli: Not at all, right? It’s great. It’s gonna improve your productivity, right? Inside sales, the beaut of it is that you have a lot more reach because you’re not limited by your physical environment. You know, I can sell to people in Russia or in Germany or in China or in Japan while sitting here in my office in Palo Alto. I don’t have to take a flight to close this deal or to start the relationship at least. That’s beautiful. That makes humanity more productive. That’s awesome. And I’m able to interact in synchronously. So I can do one to many, I don’t always have to do one to one. And I can even communicate at times where I’m sleeping, right? I can set up certain emails to be automated and be sent out even at times where I don’t have to do it physically. So from a productivity point of view it’s beautiful and it’s powerful and it’s here to stay, and it’s chipping away more and more from field sales. More and more field sales type functions are shifted over to inside sales functions. But, and this is the thing I want to talk to you about, there is a cost associated with it. And if you’re not aware of it, you’re falling behind. And if you’re aware of it, you can get ahead of your competition. The thing that we’re leaving, the thing that we’re missing with a lot of this inside sales stuff, is the human touch. The human element and the relationship building part of doing selling. The beaut of field sales was that I was able to come into your whatever, your restaurant, your office building, your headquarters, your home if I was selling vacuum cleaners. Which is a powerful thing. Being in your home is an incredibly valuable thing if I want to sell you something because I have such a rich context, right? I see how you live. I see the pictures on your wall of your family. I see the books you’re reading. I see the toys of your children. I meet your mother or your sister or your wife. There’s such rich human context. And if you are tuned in, you can make that context help you understand the person in front of you better. And if you understand them and you open yourself up for them to understand you, you’ve created a relationship and that’s such a powerful foundation to make business out of. Right? All that or a lot of that is lost when I’m sending you an email. Ya know, picture you my vacuum cleaner and you send me back a question about my vacuum cleaner. Right? There’s not a lot of context I have about you. If I put up an ad in Google and you click the ad and you land on my landing page and all I see is that the view count has gone up by one. There’s very little context that I have about who you are and there’s very little I can do to build a real human relationship. So let’s brain storm a little bit about how to infuse humanity into what you do not, for some social fuzzy, I just want to be more human to be human or because I think it’s valuable, not for any kind of fuzzy reasons but for real business money in the bank reasons. Because the reason that you want to infuse humanity in the way you sell is because relationships … Having a human touch and having people feel emotionally invested in you and making people feel like you’re familiar to them and they know you will make them want to do more business and give you more money. Right? That’s kind of a hard cold business truth. So how do you do that? So let me ask you, and before I go into some of my ideas, some of my tips, you are advising many companies, you have sales teams, you know a lot about this, or do you not … Like you’re more known as a founder/investor/adviser and marketing mind, you know a ton about sales. But even just from the things that you see people do with you, right? When they try to sell you something. What are you noticing? Have you noticed any cool, any companies that seem to be more human than others, or any people that have reached out to you that have been able to lean heavy on the relationship building part although they’ve never met you in person? Have you noticed any things good or bad in that area?
Hiten : Yeah, I think to summarize what you’re saying and the feeling that I even got as I got a healthy respect for field sales and where we kind of came from and door to door sales is, in inside sales and with all this sort of technology that we had maybe even 3-5 years ago, which is different than the technology that we have today. Which I think is your big point and the thing we should be discussing. We basically lost something along the way. And what we lost is this kind of personal human touch. For example, I’m stuck on the vacuum cleaner salesman, but you could knock on the door and the worst personal human touch is they slam the door in your face. Like they open it, and say hi, and you’re like “I want to sell you a vacuum cleaner ..” or however you would start it. Which I’m sure you’d start it in a very different way Steli. But they might still slam the door in your face. That’s a human touch. You get an abysmal reaction and you’re like “Crap.”These days that’s not the same as sending an email and not getting a response. Nobody shut the door in my face. So that’s a very visceral thing right? The other thing that I remember against what you’re saying and aligned with it, you can get in their house, the first thing you do is you spill something on their carpet and then you just use your vacuum cleaner and clean it up and you got the whole show, knock, tell with it. How the hell do you do that in an online anything? Right? So that emotion of like dropping something on their carpet. They’re like “Oh crap.” Right? “What did you just do?” And then you’re like “I got this, watch this.” Right? It’s amazing. So I think we lost all that. We lost that human touch. We lost that physical reaction. Even like being able to watch the customer and what they do when you do that. That would probably tell you more than anything you need to know, or could know in any way online about whether you’re going to be able to close them or not. So, the things that I’ve seen more recently and today is that, in short, companies are getting much better at their pitches when they actually try and they use this technology. And what I mean by that is, call recording, showing your face in a zoom webinar, and all these things that I’m sure we’re gonna get into, or are pretty obvious if you really think about how you have more of a personal touch. Or even the idea that you can know a lot about me because of my exhaust online, as I like to call it, so everything I’m putting out there, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, whatever. It doesn’t take a lot until your emails to me, your phone calls to me, your text messaging, whatever you’re doing to outreach, can be very very very good. To the point where I have no choice but to respond. And it’s pathetic how bad it is out there. I can’t even think of an example Steli where I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re amazing at this.” Right? All I can think of is little little things I see of personalization like putting your business name on the website because you can plug in Clearbit and MadPooDoo and Drift and integrate it in so in the chat box it has the company name. Which is a basic thing, but it works really well because all of a sudden an anonymous visitor who expects to be anonymous ends up seeing their company name right on your website or in your chat box without them ever having to enter it. It’s like magic. It’s not that creepy, but it’s kind of creepy. But people seem to be okay with it. So that’s like an example of what I see some people do. Segment.com is one of the sites that does that. If you’re like in their high value customer set, they’ll actually know your company name. They’ll detect it and do something with it based on the tools I just suggested. Another thing is, our ability to record these things. It’s intense. Like you can record phone calls and analyze them. You can record your webinars or your sales demos and actually analyze them and review them. I mean, I don’t know how many sales teams do phone call reviews, but it’s not enough. I don’t know how many sales teams are doing these reviews of the sales calls and the demos. I know it all sounds basic and we used to do it with the phone. But now you can do it and even understand … You can go as far as even understanding the emotion on the other side. Every minute, every minute, every second of that call. And these are the kind of things that I’m excited about. I mean, it’s gonna change the way we do sales. It really all ready is. But again, most people aren’t using them.
Steli: Yeah, I love it. I mean there’s a lot of beauty to, like you have a lot more information, you have a lot more data, you have a lot more reach. You can be one to many, so you have a lot more scale. So there’s a lot of beautiful things if you use them in the right way. I love when you talked about some of the things we’re losing out on, and then some of the benefits that we have once we’ve gotten into somebodies home. I think two other things that people, that were beautiful in fields sales, and that we have to find ways to replicate but not lose totally is that when I sit next to you in your home I have your full attention. And that’s such a powerful thing. I have your full undivided attention. When I’m on the phone with you, when I’m sending you an email, if I’m chatting with you and you’re on my website right now, I almost never have your full attention. I guarantee I have only a small part of it. Right? It’s like talking to, imagine if you had to make sales pitches for your vacuum cleaner and the person next to you was reading four magazines, listening to three songs, and having five television sets open, while arguing with their sister. Like, how could you ever make a compelling pitch? Or build any kind of relationship if you have such a tiny percentage of somebody’s actual attention? But that’s oftentimes what the online experience, or the remote experience will be like. Right? YOu’re talking to them maybe on the phone, but because you haven’t turned on video on Zoom or on Skype and you haven’t made them turn on video, or that when they do that they have a hundred other tabs open, so they’re chatting with somebody on Facebook and they’re replying to a text message on their phone, and they’re observing the stock market tick on the top left of their screen. You don’t have their full undivided attention. And a lot of times I see sales people that don’t even give their full and undivided attention to the person they’re talking to. They’re talking to somebody and while the prospect responds they’re answering emails, they’re filling out things in some contract, they’re checking out Facebook, they’re liking things on Twitter. Are you fucking crazy? Again, that’s like the vacuum cleaner salesperson talking to the person and while they’re demonstrating and you’re basically reading a magazine and talking to your wife as the salesperson. Like, how are you ever going to make somebody, how you gonna give your best and really create a human connection when you’re not there? When you’re not fully there? And I think that that’s a real risk that’s happening today. I think first, to remedy that as a salesperson, you need to make sure that when you talk to people everything is shut off and it’s dark and you give them all your attention. You might be in your sitting room but nothing else and when you realize that they might not give you their full attention, so when you really really need it. When it comes to a part of your pitch or demo or something that’s really truly important, you say words like, “And this is the most important thing I can show you today.” And then you’d count, 23, 22, 21 and now you show it to them. Because if their busy with Facebook or Twitter or something else, they hear the words, “And this is the most important thing I really want you guys to take away from this entire conversation.” They’ll stop what they’re doing and go, “Oh shit, I need to pay attention.” Right? But you need to highlight when you want people to pay attention, when not. And you need to give your undivided attention to people. And I see this rule being broken every single day and it blows my mind.
Hiten : Oh yeah, I mean …
Steli: The other thing, let me just throw in … Let’s check time because we could go on forever.
Hiten : Yeah.
Steli: If people out there are interested in more tactics than we just shared on this episode about how to make your inside sales process stand out, how to make it more human, how to build more powerful, lasting relationships while doing inside sales. Send me an email at or tweet me at and I’ll share you a few links and resources and other tactics that I’ve developed over the years. But let’s do tip time. We haven’t done this in a while. And you share tip on how to be more human and how to build better relationships while doing inside sales and I’ll do the same. I’ll start. My one tip is, one additional tip is, find ways to infuse a little humanity in, let’s say your emails. So this can be your email signature including some fun fact. Whatever it is that makes you, you. It might be that you’re a family person, there’s some family related news. So some family related updates. You had this Disney World trip with your family, you include a little picture or something that is uniquely you, that’s personal. Maybe it’s a hobby of yours, maybe it’s … Whatever it is, something human. And I’ll give you a good example that you can study. A lot of people that are interested in inside sales, probably are aware of Aaron Ross. Aaron, if you go to Predictable Revenue.com or whatever his URL is, AaronRoss.com, I don’t know … If you get on his newsletter, one of the things that I like most about it is every time that he sends a newsletter, it’s some dry thing about cold emails and enterprise sales and this and that. But it always ends with some news, some update on his personal life. And he has like a family of like ten children, they’ve adopted four, they’re adopting another three. And he’ll share like, the journey of how he went to China to adopt a child and cool pictures. And over the years as I’ve been receiving this email, I now have a real sense, I think I know who he is and I know a lot about his family and all his children and the adoptions and some of the struggles and some of the healthcare issues they’ve had with the kids and all. And that makes a big … I would not be on the email list anymore if it wasn’t for these things. Right? If it was just purely the sales stuff, at some point I would have like tuned out because I know most of that stuff and I’m good friends with him. But because of the personal stuff I’m not unsubscribing. Right? Because I’m like, I have the feeling there’s a real person that’s talking to me, not just about code calling or code emailing, but also about who he is and how his life journey is unfolding. And that keeps me engaged and that’s keeping an intimacy to those emails that’s standing out from a lot of other sales gurus out there. So check out his emails but if you can replicate it one way or another. You don’t have to be as personal as he is. I am not. Not including pictures of my children in my emails. But it could be something else. Just something that makes you human vs. just talking about business and being super dry. It can make a huge difference. So that’s my tip for the episode.
Hiten : Yeah, and my tip is absurd. It’s been 18 days since, you folks updated the quotes that I blogged, Steli.
Steli: That’s not true.
Hiten : It’s been 18 days.
Steli: That’s not true brother.
Hiten : I’m looking at it. And like the last post is from 18 days ago.
Steli: Then the dates are wrong. None of this is the featured post. This is great that you’re saying this. Wow. Look at this, we need to improve this. The last …
Hiten : I think you should fix that.
Steli: Yeah, we need to fix that.
Hiten : I think you should fix that.
Hiten : But my tip was gonna be … And anytime … And I’m not saying this because we’re partners on this and we’re doing this, but I’m saying this because it’s true. I just need to go to your blog and search. You know? Or search Google and type in blog.clothes.IO and whatever key word and I get a ton of gold about how to do sales right and how to personalize it. And you’re sharing unique insight that I don’t see in other places. And I love finding that one source. And for me, your blog InSales is the one source for the kind of things we’re talking about today. Again, not trying to be promotional but it’s true. So really, read your blog. There’s a lot of stuff in it that is super relevant to like personalizing sales and doing it right.
Steli: I love it. Thank you for the shout out brother. And also thank you for pointing out a big thing we need to fix apparently on the blogger side.
Hiten : I don’t know.
Steli: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Featured 18 days ago, but yeah I would also think
Hiten : I’ll give a bonus tip, just remove the date, all of them.
Steli: All right, I hear you brother. I’ll bring this up in another episode. Because we’re having an internal debate about this. But I hear you, we’ll definitely fix this, thanks for pointing it out. Think this is it from us.
Hiten : Cool.
Steli: All right.
Hiten : Bye.