Sales leaders are increasingly hungry for data to drive predictable growth strategies. That’s one reason field sales activities are now being scrutinized like never before while inside sales organizations are experiencing explosive growth.

The GridAccording to new research from ZS Associates and Reality Works Group, 40% of large high tech companies intend to shift resources from field sales to the inside sales organization over the next two years. And while inside sales represents just 10% of revenue at large firms now (and so can expect to see a steep increase), it already represents 55% of sales at smaller, fast-growth tech firms.

The difference? Field sales largely takes place “off the grid” (hidden from view), while inside sales largely happens “on the grid” (where everyone sees what’s going on).

The data that’s generated is used to analyze behavior, forecast outcomes, and make performance-driving, course corrections. For this reason, expect an increasing amount of selling activity to be made trackable and observable. While in-person, face-to-face meetings remain critical in many industries, the very fact that they happen off the grid helps explain why relatively fewer resources are now devoted to conventional field selling.

This isn’t to say that field sales is in irretrievable decline — merely that the activities and interactions associated with it must become more visible from a management, coaching, and improvement perspective.

Indeed, you can expect more and more sales conversations conducted by field sales professionals to involve a phone, a shared screen, and other digital interaction technologies. That’s good news. They will not only make more of their limited time, they’ll produce valuable data — the resource you need to amplify insight, learning, and growth.

 

***This piece is excerpted from Predictions 2015 — thought leader perspectives on the coming year in sales, marketing and data-driven business.