Inside sales vs outside sales – what is the best approach?

When you start a company, you need to set up your sales team. And at this moment, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to focus on inside sales vs outside sales. At first glimpse, these two seem completely different. One focuses on clients with high acquisition costs and high annual account value. On the other hand, the second one is all about the high velocity of sales. In this article, we look at both sides of the coin to help you determine the best course of action in which to lead your sales department.

When you sum the numbers up, you can see that these two are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, you’ll probably need both if you want to succeed. But that doesn’t mean that one won’t work better than the other. Maybe you can sell more things if you talk to people in person, or increasing website sales is what you need. So, today, we’ll talk about the strengths of each, why you need them both, and how to make a balance that works.

Inside sales

People researching inside vs outside sales online.
Inside sales utilize tools for selling over the phone or the internet.

To start, we’ll explain what these terms mean. And, in essence, inside sales and remote sales are the same things. The whole process takes place in the office, from the sales rep’s desk. So, there’s no selling face to face. Instead, this tactic utilizes all the communication tools we all know and love.

  • Phone
  • Email
  • VoIP
  • CRM platforms

Although any sales team can use this sales model, most often, we see them among B2B. And no, inside sales are nothing like telemarketing. Thinking that these are similar is a misconception that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In general, telemarketing is scripted. This means that anyone can do it. On the other hand, for inside sales, you need a skilled salesperson. It’s done over the phone or the internet, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple.

Outside sales

As you can assume, outside sales means selling the product in person. They’re also known as field sales, so they don’t work in-house. They meet with the clients outside the office. And because of this, there’s a lot of travel, autonomy, and emotional intelligence involved in this process.

It’s worth mentioning that outside sales reps usually deal with larger and more expensive accounts. So, they’re often considered to be superstars of the company.

Of course, the majority of their job can be done from home. There are all these tools like Skype and Zoom that make the job easier. So, don’t think that top phone selling techniques won’t be worth much here. However, their flexibility and willingness to be there in person are the two things that set these people apart.

What is the difference between inside and outside sales reps?

A handshake in the office.
If you need to be anywhere in person to seal the deal, outside sales are the only way that can get you there.

To better understand how inside sales vs outside sales reps spend their time, we’ll look how their workdays look like. And on a typical workday, inside sales reps are selling remotely. Whether that will be over the phone or the internet, it doesn’t matter. These people focus on social selling, and they make almost double the number of calls outside sales reps do. Because of the nature of their job, they usually have predictable and targeted amounts of work to do each day.

On the other hand, outside sales reps are more focused on selling at conferences and trade shows. These are the people who give speaker engagements and visit customer offices. However, they’re still selling remotely half of the time. Since the pandemic has started, the time they spend on a phone has increased by over 80 percent.

What should you go for?

For quite some time now, companies were focusing mainly on outside sales. However, there’s no doubt that the industry is changing these days. The numbers show that the inside sales sector is growing 15 times more than the outside. As the situation is right now, it seems that inside sales will overgrow the outside a lot sooner than we all thought. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that most companies are now angling toward 50/50 distribution. And the reason why this is happening is obvious. Internet is changing how we buy. More and more people want to avoid anything being sold to them in person. So, now may be the ideal time to think about how to personalize customer interaction via phone.

All of this, however, doesn’t mean that selling face-to-face is irrelevant. People still like to do things in person when they’re spending a lot of money. The trick here is to strike the perfect balance. But the proportion you’re going to use mostly depends on your products, organization, and strategy.

The product

This is the biggest factor in determining which path you should follow. To find out, ask yourself this question. Is your product something that should be an impulse buy or something expensive that can change the way a company works? If the price and commitment are low, inside sales are the way you should go. The convenience factor will work in your favor as it is one of the most important things to your customers.

Person holding a credit card and making an online purchase.
If you’re selling something easily affordable, there’s no question if you should pick inside sales vs outside sales.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about a larger, more expensive product, outside sales are your best bet. When they’re spending more, buyers like to think through their purchases. And your sales rep is the ideal person to help them with this. Having said that, you should know that people are becoming more comfortable making these decisions online. And as a callback software provider, ConvertMore can vouch for this.

The organization

The nature of your organization will also play a big role in the ratio we talked about.

If your company is primarily digital, focuses on having as many sales and as many prospects as possible, inside sales will be a good fit. Contrary to that, if you’re selling physical products and in search of a more elite market, you should look into outside sales.

The strategy

And the last thing that you should consider when choosing between inside sales vs outside sales is the strategy. If your sales model is transactional and can be automated, you should go for inside sales. But if it’s largely relational and requires meetings, there’s no other way than outside sales.

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