Expert Interview Series: Dionne Mischler on Boosting Your Inside Sales

This post originally appeared on the KiteDesk blog.

Dionne Mischler is the founder and CEO of, an inside sales consultancy based in Southern California helping companies take their teams to the next level by implementing proven best practices. We recently caught up with Dionne to get her advice on how companies can implement better inside sales strategies. Here’s what she had to say:

Inside Sales by Design

Tell us about Inside Sales By Design. What services do you offer?

Inside Sales by Design offers workshops and seminars to companies looking to start and/or grow their Inside Sales teams. Additionally, I’m available to talk with teams at their sales kick off or other events about the power of Inside Sales and get everybody on the same page.

What’s your approach and/or philosophy to inside sales?

My approach to Inside Sales is to be deliberate and intentional in order to be successful. My philosophy is hope is not the right tactic when a team or department is on the hook for revenue.

300% Inside Sales Growth

What is the current climate for inside sales? Why should brands be investing more into their inside sales teams?

Oh man, the current climate for Inside Sales is hot, hot, hot. For a variety of factors, Inside Sales is a proven sales channel and brands are looking at leveraging this model in order to improve their time to market of a new product, have more coverage in communicating with their prospects and customers, and having the right people in the right chair in order to communicate with their prospects and customers in the way they prefer.

Where should companies begin when growing their inside sales efforts?

When talking with companies about starting an Inside Sales team, I ask a ton of questions related to their product/service readiness. From there, we talk about their customer onboarding and retention efforts. Starting and/or growing an Inside Sales team happens AFTER these processes are in place or at least being practiced.

Inside sales cash investments

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see clients making when trying to grow inside sales?

The most common mistakes/oversights I see typically fall into two buckets:

1. Funding is approved for the team and results are expected too soon; and
2. Inside Sales people are put into the seat too soon without enough infrastructure to support their efforts.

How important is good leadership to the success of inside sales teams?

Good leadership is probably the single biggest asset to the team and directly ties to the success of the Inside Sales team. I was fortunate enough to present on this very topic and it’s one of the workshops I provide.

Stephen Covey - Seek First to Understand Quote

What do you think are the qualities that are sales leaders should possess?

I think all leaders, especially Sales, should be slow to speak and quick to listen. I expect any good leader to seek to understand (Covey) first and foremost. I expect Sales Leaders to model the behavior they want to see from their team. I actually train new leaders on this very topic. Teams mimic the behavior, tone, mannerisms and priorities of their leader, even if they’re not directly communicated. Leaders live in a fishbowl. It’s what was signed up for, therefore, leaders must model what they want to see.

What are the most effective methods you’ve found for motivating sales teams? What doesn’t seem to work as well?

Let’s start with what doesn’t work. Sticks. Saying “just do it” is out. These are adults, not children. Motivating sales teams is really about changing or enhancing the behaviors we want to see. It’s about incentivizing appropriately. And in order to do that, we must know the individuals on our team and what makes them tick. Specifically speaking, money, gift cards, time off, are all great incentives. Providing a sense of purpose is actually the biggest motivator.

How does having shared goals and a sense of purpose improve a team’s output?

This is a great question and ties directly to the previous question. Every team must have a you-are-here dot. There is a collective goal that galvanizes the team and generates tremendous focus and subsequently, a vast amount of results. I’d also say, this is the first step in setting the team in the right direction aligning to company goals. For example, is the team responsible for selling a new product? What’s the company goal? And what is the team on the hook for? This goal alignment generates the desired behavior, focus, and goals.

What are your favorite tools or resources for sales managers and their teams? What will help them achieve results?

I’m a fan of continual learning and mastering our craft. So reading blogs, books and belonging to and attending targeted group and events is absolutely critical. The other half of the coin is the tools. The use of tools must propel activity forward in order to increase the velocity to goal attainment. For example, if you’re team is prospecting, a tool like KiteDesk is highly recommended. My other favorite tools are ExecVision for call coaching, Ambition for sales effectiveness and Wide Angle for robust 1:1’s.

Need more ideas for winning sales? 

Watch Designing the Ultimate Sales Development Team


What makes you go faster?

I get asked fairly frequently about tools for Inside Sales teams. Here are my typical questions in response:

  1. What are you looking to accomplish?
  2. What does your current process look like? (The one you’re trying to automate.)
  3. Have y’all used tools in the past?
  4. What’s prompting the search now? (This will help in prioritization.)

Unfortunately, I get a lot of vague answers and even worse, the dreaded “we don’t really have a defined sales process right now.”

Yikes. We’ve all been there and as a practitioner, I was in the same boat. Do more with less was the message from executives, so off we go tool shopping. Only to come up against those questions time and again.

So now I ask those questions and share with individuals, if your process isn’t in place, you’re not really automating anything. 0+0 = 0.

If we stick with the theme from our picture – ban low performance (or non-existent processes, not high performance tools (designed to enhance and accelerate your process).

Before going tool shopping, start with the four questions above and come up with some specific answers. Those answers are the key to successful tool shopping, choosing the right tool, and making the experience overall successful and giving you everything you’re hoping for in a tool.

Here’s what to do next: 

  1. Leverage the Tool section from the PM Inside Sales course to define and hone your process so you’re not buying shelf ware.
  2. Visit the AA-ISP website and review the Resource Section.

P.S. This is the same approach for both tech, non-tech, SaaS, etc. The overarching theme is to have a plan to execute against in order to achieve the goal brought on by a great idea.

Dionne is an 18 year sales veteran having built and scaled Inside Sales team from the ground up. She recently started her own firm, Inside Sales by Design, to work with mid-size companies to share the ultimate best practices of high performing Inside Sales teams. To that end, she recently co-created PM Inside Sales, an online course teaching the fundamentals that have made her teams so successful.

Growing Pipeline in 2016: Webinar on 2/19 with David Sneider of SendBloom

A sustainable and sizeable pipeline unlocks the full potential of your sales team. You already know the ROI on inside sales as a channel. Are you ready to find out how you can scale your pipeline growth?

Then you need to attend our upcoming webinar.

In this discussion, I want to introduce you to David Sneider. He runs Growth and Customer Success at Sendbloom, the sales automation company that powers some of the world’s most effective pipeline building sales teams.

In the webinar we cover…

  • Two key fundamentals that as an organization you MUST have in place
  • The framework where top reps excel and can bring others up with them.
  • The missing link in prospecting that holds wannabe ‘quota crushers’ back
  • Actionable ‘nuggets’ that you and your team can test today

Register here, seats are limited!

Join us for this fast paced and information packed webinar on Friday, February 19th at 10am pst.


The Fundamentals of Sales Enablement: An Interview with Amy Pence, Sr. Sales Enablement Manager, Alteryx

Amy Pence and I were able to catch up last week to talk about Sales Enablement and the value of having properly prepared sales people. In addition to a program and process by which sales people are brought onboard at a company, initially trained and then receiving ongoing training (for both sales and product).

By way of introduction, Amy Pence is the Senior Manager of Sales Enablement at Alteryx, the leader in data blending and advanced analytics software.

The oldest of six siblings and a self-proclaimed mother hen, keeper of the peace and problem solver, Amy is a natural (and I say gifted) fit as a Sales Enablement leader.

Read on for excerpts into our conversation and subscribe to our upcoming blabcast on 11/4 to hear more.

DM: How would you define Sales Enablement?

AP:When I think about sales enablement, I think about the enablement of breakthroughs through those moments of breakdowns. Figuring out how people learn, what’s going to make people “get it” to click for them, and put that into practice. It’s putting it into a coaching perspective, be vulnerable – you must practice what you preach.

DM: Why Alteryx?

AP: When I was interviewing, Alteryx stood out as the real deal. Talking to leaders, people in the building – everyone was here to make a difference and make it happen. Being here now, it’s the people, the product – it does what it says, no smoke and mirrors here. I could just feel it here, in the back of my neck, that this was it.

DM: Tell me more about your Enablement role within Alteryx?

AP: Even though enablement pops up as not a word in spell check, the enablement community is really excited about being more widely recognized as a key and strategic function in sales – a bonafide profession.  I run and provide a host of enablement services from sales boot camps and sales onboarding to ongoing sales training. I work with our Sales leaders to build 30/60/90 days plans – we call it the cohort approach – by team and then across teams. And we’re very careful to do retrospectives, aka postmortems so that our enablement efforts further a collaborative culture. One thing our culture demonstrates is this – accountability and engagement go hand in hand with collaboration.

As an extension of that, I am constantly asking what we can do better to make the reps successful. And further, build the tools and be sure to stay focused on testing, experimenting, executing – in other words, making it happen!

DM: Would you share with me your key insights re: Sales Enablement?

AP: It’s a mix of training, but not just from an event standpoint, it’s ongoing support and making sure people have what they need when they need it. Being the oldest child of 6, that was my role – making sure that everyone was happy, kids were in bed, so I could hang out later. Being helpful and keeping the peace, but making things happen.

These are the fundamentals I see as aspects of Sales Enablement:

  1. Onboarding, Ongoing, Over-the-Shoulder Coaching
  2. Training, tools, talent management
  3. Vulnerability, vigor, volume

I and my soon to be team, tie all of that together and use SalesHood internally as a means to foster that collaboration, accountability and engagement within the team.

I consider it validation, a true compliment when reps ask: “What do you think? What would you do?”  This tells me trust is there and I’ve done my job.

DM: What makes people embrace change?

AP: Sales Enablement is not for the faint of heart. It takes a ton of moxie, courage, and grit to train sales people. So I start with “there’s got to be a better way” mindset. And I show the outcome and definitely have refined my art of persuasion ability.

Literally what I tell reps is trust in the process, have faith, you’ll slip back into old tendencies, and that’s okay – and when you do, I’m committed to helping you reel it in so you can keep it between the ditches.

The Alteryx sales approach flips the traditional model on its head – and that’s where the onboarding, ongoing, over-the-shoulder coaching comes into play.  Being one sales enablement leader to 75 reps means working closely with the sales leaders is not just a commitment, it’s a necessity.

DM: What does the future hold for you?

AP: Acceleration. Accelerating everywhere – and while setting the pace, not just keeping pace.  Personally, I’m primed and ready to kick it into overdrive.  I have the privilege of working with amazingly talented, driven individuals each day – people who wake up thinking about transforming lives by means of an insanely great analytics platform.  We’re helping people learn to love their jobs again. And that’s exciting.  I love my job – making that a reality for others is what I wake up thinking about.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Amy, she’s an amazing individual and definitely in the right role at the right company. You can catch up with Amy at our upcoming Modernizing Inside Sales blabcast series. We’re talking Sales Playbooks on Wednesday, November 4th at 8:30am pst. Subscribe here.

Dionne is a 17 year sales veteran having built and scaled Inside Sales team from the ground up. She recently started her own firm, Inside Sales by Design, to work with small and mid-size companies to share the ultimate best practices of high performing Inside Sales teams. To that end, she recently co-created PM Inside Sales, an online course teaching the fundamentals that have made her teams so successful. When not working, Dionne enjoys spending time with her husband, kids, and friends at the beach and embarking on new experiences.

Modernizing Inside Sales – A Series of Blabcasts starting Wednesday, October 28th

Have you wondered where to start with learning something new as it relates to your Inside Sales team? Are you asking yourself, “I need to do something new and different, I just don’t know what.” Then join us as we bring together key insights, best practices and take-aways from expert practicioners and deep subject matter experts.

We’re kicking off tomorrow, October 28th, at 8:30am PST talking about Training and Onboarding with Jeremy Boudinet, Director of Marketing for Ambition and Vince Gatti, VP Sales ITsavvy. Subscribe today and join us tomorrow for a high quality conversation.

And visit my Blab page for upcoming Modernizing Inside Sales sessions. Already scheduled are:

  1. Coaching and Accountability with Jon Birdsong, CEO of Rivalry
  2. Sales Playbooks with Ralph Barsi, VP Field Operations at Achievers and Amy Pence, Senior Manager Sales Enablement at Alteryx
  3. Process to Scale with Charlie Teed, VP Inside Sales at Mavenlink

Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter for more….we’re bringing deep knowledge to share and know we can learn from you too. Join us!

Dionne is a 17 year sales veteran having built and scaled Inside Sales team from the ground up. She recently started her own firm, Inside Sales by Design, to work with small and mid-size companies to share the ultimate best practices of high performing Inside Sales teams. To that end, she recently partnered with Rhonda O’Neill to create PM Inside Sales, an online course teaching the fundamentals that have made her teams so successful. When not working, Dionne enjoys spending time with her husband, kids, and friends at the beach and embarking on new experiences.

The Top 2 Reasons to Codify Training and Onboarding: An Interview with Jeremy Boudinet from Ambition

Jeremy Boudinet was kind enough to take some time with me and we had a great conversation about the value of Sales Training and Onboarding.

Jeremy is the Director of Marketing at Ambition. Ambition “provides the most cutting-edge sales performance management software on the market today.”

Read on for some great insights!

Jeremy’s love of sales runs in the family and he believes everything is sales and everyone is in SALES (to which I completely agree)! With sales running in the blood, it’s made Jeremy very empathetic to sales people and the sales profession. And raised the truth that ultimately a company must have a viable product for sales people to sell.

Armed with his BA in Political Science, a JD from University of Pittsburgh Law School, and his love of reading and writing, Jeremy is well positioned to be the Director of Marketing for the up and coming tech company focused on making “work suck less”. Ambition seeks to codify Training and Onboarding expectations so there are no surprises for employees!

I asked Jeremy what he meant by that and here’s some excerpts from our discussion:

DM: What are some of key insights from your customers regarding Training and Onboarding?

JB: The big thing is the love of transparency. Most people, and millennials especially, get nervous when they don’t know where they stand, don’t receive feedback, or have clearly defined expectations. The feedback we get about Ambition from our customers focuses on two key areas. 1. The Manager loves the automated and custom email alerts and reports. These allow the Manager to immediately and effectively coach without sifting through a bunch of data. 2. Codifying and visualizing daily benchmarks sets the clear expectations of the Sales Rep to ramp and where time is to be spent.

DM: How are companies tying gamification to compensation?

JB: There are roughly four levels of motivation in Ambition, all of which we’ve seen tied to monetary performance incentives. 1. You v. Your Daily Benchmarks. 2. You v. Your Past Performance 3. You v. Rest of Your Team 4. Your Team vs. Opposing Team.

In sales, rewards should be tied to both productivity and performance. And with a well-tuned process and the proper tools, creating multiple levels of competition, motivation and compensation opportunities is significantly simpler than before.

DM: Where do you see the market going?

JB: Initially, gamification was brought in-house to focus on revenue attainment. We’re seeing the market shift focus away from badges and arcade-style leaderboards towards a more sophisticated model.

The sustainable value our clients are getting comes from using Ambition to codify expectations, create a more robust CRM experience and offer personalized recognition and team competitions. (Take a look at this HBR article to dive further.) The latter part goes toward the rising tide of the collaborative, segmented inside sales model, which prizes the team-aspect of sales much more strongly than the prevailing models of years past.

The lone wolf stereotype in sales is over and gone, get on the bus! The future of sales is about a highly coordinated team attacking to achieve its goals.

DM: What makes people embrace Ambition and similar emerging technologies?

JB: The Leadership recognizes that is not a “shock the monkey” approach to motivating a sales force.  Adopting gamification and technology to speed up your team is about leveraging a tried and true sales process (meaning, your organization has one already) codifying a path to success and choosing to embrace real-time data transparency.

And for your team to embrace that change, the technology has to become part of your culture. Taking a carrot-and-a-stick approach to our software is a recipe for failure. This isn’t about making a leaderboard or winning a gift card. In sales, the most important competition is always with yourself, and Ambition provides a powerful visual reminder across every member of your sales team.

With clearly defined targets, gamification and technology can be very effective at aligning your Inside Sales Strategy with your Company Strategy. We’re out to make sure that there’s no wasted potential within your organization.

You can hear more at our upcoming webinar on October 28th, 8:30am PST: Modernizing Inside Sales, Why Training and Onboarding Matter. Subscribe here.

Jeremy Boudinet is the Director of Marketing at Ambition and President of AA-ISP’s Tennessee Chapter. He devotes most of his waking life to being the “Voice of Ambition,” by publishing in-depth articles, interviews, eBooks and editorials on emerging topics in sales and performance management. You can find his content on the highly active Ambition Blog and by following @AmbitionSales on Twitter.


The 2 Most Important Reasons to Build a Solid Inside Sales Foundation

  1. Inside Sales is growing faster than Outside sales to the tune of 300%, according to a study from (the data is from 2013, however, still relevant)

2.    The #1 top challenge for Inside Sales Leaders is access to effective and repeatable Training and Development, according to the AA-ISP 2015 Top Challenges Report. (You’ve got to be a member to access the full report. Do it, the Associate Member rate is $25/year.)

Put those two together and you’ve got the makings of a perfect storm. Companies are growing their Inside Sales team or creating them and Leaders have identified Training and Development as their biggest barrier to growth.

Also from the AA-ISP report, Leaders want to increase training speed. I take that to mean getting folks up to speed more quickly.

And that’s where PM Inside Sales comes in. What we’ve done is provide tools, templates, checklists, and additional resources for your to consume. For those of you comfortable with a structured online learning environment, this program gives you the best-of-the-best tools to create or enhance your very own Solid Sales Foundation, and ultimately the ability to increase your speed.

The course covers topics such as establishing the right model to writing effective job descriptions and from training and onboarding to setting goals and creating accountability. All the basics requirements of a solid foundation so you’re poised for growth.

Take a look at the intro video by October 16th and be entered into a drawing to receive a free pass to the course.

Thank you and we look forward to growing with you!

Dionne is a 17 year sales veteran having built and scaled Inside Sales team from the ground up. She recently started her own firm, Inside Sales by Design, to work with small and mid-size companies to share the ultimate best practices of high performing Inside Sales teams. To that end, she recently partnered with Rhonda O’Neill to create PM Inside Sales, an online course teaching the fundamentals that have made her teams so successful.

The #1 Must-Have to Insure your Inside Sales Team’s Success – Part 2

The leader. Yep, I said it, it’s the leader of the group that can make or break success. Here’s why: according to a recent Gallup poll, Manager’s account for 70% of an employee’s variance in engagement. Wow. Also according to Gallup, an engaged workforce outperforms it’s less engaged counterparts by 147% per share. Staggering.

As an Inside Sales leader, below is a standard list that can drive engagement with your team. You may call these items something else, however, the gist is the same. And with the majority of our employees’ engagement riding on our own, it’s definitely something to move to the top of our priority list.

(I can also hear some of you out there calling out the employee’s responsibility to own their own engagement. Completely agree. And by setting clear expectations, that helps our team to either engage or not.)

So here we go, as a True Leader, you:

  1. Create a Success Plan template for your team which includes a feedback loop

And clearly defined expectations

2.    Remove barriers for your team in order for them to be successful

Do they need an order form? A bug fixed in the product?

3.   Create Trust and Transparency by constantly communicating

There’s some “stuff” we can’t communicate. Got it. But there’s plenty we can to keep our teams focused. Communicate the stuff you can in a way that keeps your team motivated and moving

4.   Provide Mentoring and Coaching to your team while holding them accountable to your mutually agreed upon Success Plan

This is NOT your 1:1. This is something different. A mentor is someone other than you, their Leader. Encourage your team to have a mentor/coach or start your own internal coaching/mentor program for your team. Everyone will benefit.

5.   Meet and communicate with your peers and Management internally in order to provide clear guidance for you and your team

As a Leader, having your own road map defined is just as important. Because really, how do you direct your team without a clear sense of the end game? And by meeting internally with your peers, you’re able to break down silos, raise everybody’s understanding, and increase engagement.

6.   Retain your best people

There is a talent war coming, if not already here, for good and great jobs. By engaging in these activities, you’re on your way to creating an environment your people want to stay in.

7.   Hold 1:1’s consistently with your team and your manager

If you do nothing else, take this away. 1:1’s are NOT optional. They are a must. 30 minutes a week or every other week with every person on your team. Care. Help. Be of service. Review expectations, review what’s going well, and review what needs to improve. This regular cadence is the single most important thing we can do as leaders to get to know our people, provide the right guidance, retain our best people, and effectively communicate.

Dionne is a 17 year sales veteran having built and scaled Inside Sales team from the ground up. She recently started her own firm, Inside Sales by Design, to work with small and mid-size companies to share the ultimate best practices of high performing Inside Sales teams. To that end, she recently partnered with Rhonda O’Neill to create PM Inside Sales, an online course teaching the fundamentals that have made her teams so successful.

Why Discipline Matters in Sales

Isn’t it interesting that sales people have different stigmas, labels, and connotations? And not all of them are favorable. Some that come to mind are slick, fast talking, the life of the party and those are the ones suitable for print.

Discipline is probably not the first word that comes to mind when we think about sales. I’m here to tell you that it should be and why it’s not a surprise.

Ask anybody, and they probably didn’t go to college to be in sales. Or think of it as a viable profession. They don’t want to be a Sales Person. Hell, I didn’t either. Then came the reality and knowledge that we’re all really in sales, but that’s a story for a different time.

Here’s why Discipline is the single most important characteristics of a successful sales person. Discipline is what has us picking up the phone again after being hung up on. Discipline is what has us doing one more demo before we go home for the day. Discipline is what has following a tried and true sales process that nets results. Discipline is what has us herding the proverbial cats in our internal world in order to meet the needs of our customers. Discipline is what keeps us striving to hit our goals and quota.

Sales isn’t for everyone. It’s tough. Make your number or lose your job. I can’t think of another role in an organization with that kind of definitive end game.

The most successful sales people I know have a vast amount of discipline.

Visit the full PM Inside Sales 101 course & learn more about the importance of sales team discipline.

Thank you for helping bring PM Inside Sales to the world!

A great friend, Rhonda O’Neill, and I recently created and published our first online course. The course is designed for Sales Professionals looking to either start or enhance their Inside Sales team. (You can see it here.)

As always, great labors of love never happen by themselves or in a vacuum. We’d love to thank everybody that has had a hand in helping us bring this course to market: Trish Bertuzzi, Bob Perkins, Brad Myers, LB, Elizabeth Ortiz, Brandon Mischler, Bradley Groth, Ed Porter, Rob Beattie, Ralph Barsi, Jeremy Boudinet, John Birdsong, Ivan Gomez, Vince Gatti, Leisa Reid, AT Turner, Alice Zanforlin, and Amyra Rand.

We truly appreciate your time, effort and honest feedback through this journey. We wish you success and a smooth path through the end of 2015.