Is your company’s sales cycle struggling to meet customer demands and build relationships?
Small businesses often need to create an effective sales model and understand the difference between inside sales vs. outside sales.
Hi, my name is AJ! After selling my company for multiple seven figures, I created Small Business Bonfire to help other entrepreneurs!
Finding the right sales model helped my business grow and gain traction.
So, if you’re ready to learn about inside vs. outside sales and which strategy is right for your company, keep reading!
What is Inside Sales?
Inside sales happen when sales reps sell products or services remotely to clients.
These remote communication channels can include the following outlets:
- Phone calls
- Video conferencing (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.)
- Social media
Inside sales are also called virtual sales because agents never actually meet with prospects face to face.
Of course, this has advantages and disadvantages (which I’ll cover later).
From an employee’s perspective, one of the best parts of being an inside sales rep is that you can work from home!
What do Inside Sales Reps Do?
Inside sales reps are primarily responsible for identifying potential clients, contacting them via remote channels, and persuading them to purchase products or services!
Inside sales teams have various tasks, including the following:
- Conducting market research
- Handling inbound sales queries
- Presenting and demonstrating products or services
- Closing sales deals over the phone or through online platforms
On top of that, these sales professionals nurture long-term relationships with customers to encourage repeat business.
Benefits of Inside Sales
There are three main advantages of having inside sales teams, including the following:
- They don’t cost as much as outside sales teams
- They’re more scalable than outside sales strategies
- They offer more time for other tasks
Ensure you know these benefits when comparing inside sales vs outside sales!
Lower Cost Than Outside Sales
Inside sales teams tend to be less expensive than outside ones primarily due to reduced overhead costs.
For instance, inside sales reps eliminate the need for the following costs:
- Travel expenses
- Meal allowances
- Client entertainment budgets
While these expenses are crucial for outside sales representatives (because they have face-to-face interactions), inside teams don’t need them!
As a result, an inside sales strategy is a more cost-effective solution for small businesses.
More Scalable Than Outside Sales
Inside sales strategies are more scalable than their outside counterparts due to the extensive use of digital technology and automated systems.
Today’s technology allows businesses to reach a more significant number of prospects in various geographic locations simultaneously.
By reaching more clients, it provides greater capacity for growth without the need for significant increases in resources or staff!
More Time for Ancillary Tasks
Being virtually based, inside sales teams have more flexibility because they are not tied to travel schedules or onsite meetings.
Having more flexibility allows an inside sales team to have more time to invest in ancillary tasks, including:
- Customer database updating
- Market analysis
- Strategizing for customer engagement
Inside Sales: Duties & Responsibilities
When comparing inside and outside sales, it’s crucial to understand the duties and responsibilities of each position.
Below are the three primary responsibilities of inside sales reps!
- Prospecting and Client Acquisition: Inside sales reps actively seek new clients by conducting market research and using inbound and outbound sales strategies.
- Product Presentation and Sales Closure: Reps must demonstrate their products’ or services’ features and benefits to customers through online platforms. They use their sales and persuasion skills to convince prospects to purchase.
- Customer Relationship Management: Inside sales reps must maintain strong customer relationships after-sales. They follow up with clients to ensure satisfaction and resolve any issues.
Inside Sales Skillsets
Here’s what an inside sales team must be able to do if they want to be successful!
Resilience to “No”
Inside sales reps must be resilient to hearing potential clients say “no” because rejection is common in the sales landscape!
Therefore, maintaining a positive attitude, learning from the experience, and persisting in their efforts can be the key to achieving long-term success.
Inside sales reps must have negotiation skills as they talk about the following details with potential customers:
- Delivery dates
- Other contract terms
Further, these negotiation skills allow members of an inside sales team to secure the most favorable terms for their company!
At the same time, excellent negotiation skills can do the following things:
- Ensure customer satisfaction
- Drive successful deals
- Build long-term, profitable relationships
Customer Service Skills
Inside sales agents need strong customer service skills because they are directly involved in the following things:
- Resolving clients’ issues
- Handling inquiries
- Providing product support
These details are integral to building and maintaining long-term, satisfying customer relationships!
An inside sales representative MUST have extensive product knowledge.
When agents understand what the company sells, it equips them with the ability to do the following things:
- Convincingly articulate the benefits and features of their product or service.
- Answer customer inquiries accurately
- Address potential objections
- Enhances their persuasiveness
- Increase the likelihood of sales success
Lastly, inside sales team members must possess teamwork skills because they often work closely with various departments.
When working with other departments, ensuring a unified approach to customer satisfaction and effectively meeting sales targets is crucial!
Inside Sales Models
Here are the steps to (most) successful inside sales processes!
Prospecting is identifying and reaching out to potential customers, known as prospects.
The goal of prospecting is to convert them into paying customers.
Further, prospecting involves various strategies, such as:
- Market research
- Email outreach
- Leveraging social media platforms
Inside sales professionals use prospecting to identify and engage with potential leads!
Qualifying is the step where the inside sales rep assesses the potential of prospects to convert into a customer.
Qualifying leads is based on specific criteria, including:
- The lead’s need for the product
- The prospect’s ability to afford the product or service
- The lead’s decision-making power
Lead qualifying is an essential part of the sales process designed to help reps spend time on leads most likely to convert.
As a result, qualifying leads increase efficiency and productivity.
Product presentations are comprehensive demonstrations of the following aspects of a product:
- Potential applications
Typically, an inside sales rep does product demonstrations to persuade potential customers to make a purchase!
Closing is the final step in the sales process, where the sales agent finalizes the transaction.
Also, closing a deal solidifies the customer’s commitment to purchase the product or service!
Follow-ups are integral to long-term success as they foster strong customer relationships and provide opportunities for upselling or cross-selling.
Also, following up ensures the following things:
- Better customer satisfaction rates
- Prompt, timely resolution of issues that may otherwise go unnoticed
- Reinforcing your brand’s value
- More customer loyalty and repeat business
Inside Sales Example
Here’s a fictional example of inside sales to help you better understand how this sales process works!
Consider a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company selling project management tools.
An inside sales agent from the company identifies potential leads in small businesses through LinkedIn.
Then, they email the potential client, introducing their product and scheduling a demonstration.
During the demonstration, conducted through a video conferencing platform, the sales rep highlights the software’s features and benefits tailored to the client’s business needs.
After that, the rep negotiates the pricing and closes the deal online.
Post-sale, the rep maintains regular contact with the client to ensure the following things:
- Customer satisfaction
- Address any issues
- Explore opportunities for upselling or cross-selling other tools from their company’s portfolio.
What is Outside Sales?
Outside sales are when reps meet with potential and existing clients face-to-face.
Typically, outside sales reps must travel in order to meet with clients.
“What’s the point of all this traveling?” you might be asking!
When buyers can meet with someone in person, it often results in the following things:
- Stronger relationships
- More trust in the company and sales agent
- Higher chances of repeat buyers
- There is a higher chance of converting prospects
As you can see, in-person meetings can be quite beneficial, but they demand more time, energy, and planning.
What Do Outside Sales Reps Do?
Outside sales reps spend most of their time on the road, visiting potential and existing clients at their offices or homes.
On top of that, an outside sales rep is responsible for several things, including:
- Presenting and demonstrating the features of products and services
- Explaining the benefits of products or services
- Negotiating terms of sales
- Closing deals
Further, these agents must cultivate and maintain customer relationships to have repeat buyers and referrals.
Lastly, outside sales reps often attend the following events to find new sales opportunities:
- Industry events
- Trade shows
- Networking events
Outside Sales Benefits
The two primary benefits of having outside sales reps include the following things:
- Agents form better client relationships
- Companies experience higher close rates
Here’s why outside sales models can be effective for some businesses!
Better Customer Relationships
Outside sales reps often form better customer relationships due to their personal and direct interaction with clients.
Direct interactions allow outside sales teams to understand client needs and preferences better.
Also, in-person meetings reinforce trust and foster rapport, leading to the following things:
- Making it easier to handle objections
- Discuss complex issues
- Provide customized solutions
Lastly, these face-to-face encounters allow for a more engaging and memorable customer experience, contributing to long-term customer loyalty and satisfaction!
Increased Close Rate
Another advantage of having an outside sales team is that they have a higher deal closure rate.
Outside sales reps typically have higher deal closure rates due to their direct, personal interaction with potential clients.
As a result, it promotes a deeper understanding of the client’s needs and a tailored sales approach.
Further, in-person meetings allow for more effective handling of objections and negotiation of terms.
Lastly, the trust and rapport built from face-to-face encounters often lead to a higher level of commitment from the client!
Outside Sales Duties & Responsibilities
The three primary duties of outside sales teams include the following responsibilities:
- Prospecting and Lead Generation: Outside sales reps must seek and identify potential clients interested in your company’s product or service. This often involves researching market trends, attending industry events, and leveraging existing networks to generate qualified leads.
- Client Meetings and Product Demonstrations: Outside sales reps are responsible for personally meeting prospective and existing clients to present and demonstrate the features and advantages of their product or service.
- Sales Negotiations and Deal Closures: An essential role of an outside sales rep is negotiating sales terms and finalizing deals. They must effectively address any objections the client raises, negotiate pricing and contract terms, and secure the client’s commitment to the purchase.
Outside Sales Skillsets
What does it take to be a successful outside sales rep?
Below, I’ve compiled the top qualities to look for in these employees and applicants!
Resilience to “No”
Outside sales reps must demonstrate resilience to hearing “no.”
In the face-to-face sales environment, rejection is common, and the ability to bounce back and maintain a positive, persistent approach is critical for long-term success and relationship-building!
In-Person Communication Skills
Excellent in-person communication skills are crucial for outside sales reps because these abilities do the following things:
- Facilitate more compelling and persuasive product presentations
- Promote effective negotiations
- Form better relationship-building with potential and existing clients
- Contribute to higher sales success rates
Outside sales agents need exceptional presentation skills because they must be able to do the following things:
- Effectively demonstrate the value of their products or services
- Engage their audience
- Convincingly communicate their sales proposition
All of these details are critical factors in closing a deal!
Outside sales agents must have excellent product knowledge because it empowers them to clearly explain the benefits of their company’s products or services.
Also, product knowledge ensures the outside sales team can do the following things:
- Address customer queries proficiently.
- Tailor their sales pitch to meet the client’s specific needs and challenges.
Better at Working Alone
Lastly, outside sales agents must be better at working alone.
Employees in this role often require them to operate independently in the field, managing the following things without support:
- Their own time
- Make decisions
- Solve problems
Outside Sales Models
The outside sales model is identical to the inside sales cycle.
However, there are a few distinct differences because outside sales teams meet clients in person.
Inside and outside sales teams must prospect for potential customers.
Usually, each sales model utilizes the same strategies to find prospects!
Lead qualification determines whether a prospect has the potential and intent to become a customer based on their:
- Decision-making authority
Presenting or demonstrating how a company’s products or services work is one of the primary ways inside sales vs. outside sales differ.
Outside sales reps typically deal with product demonstrations in person rather than virtually.
Closing the deal for an outside sales rep typically involves the following things:
- Face-to-face negotiations
- Successfully addressing any final objections
- Securing the client’s commitment to purchase
Usually, closing deals involve a signed contract or agreement.
The follow-up process in outside sales is crucial because it fosters customer relationships and demonstrates a commitment to meeting their needs.
On top of that, following up opens opportunities for future business, enhancing customer retention and loyalty!
Outside Sales Example
An example of outside sales is a car salesperson at a dealership.
These agents prospect customers by scanning the lot for interested individuals.
Then, car sales agents qualify leads by assessing the customer’s current vehicle situation and budget.
After that, they present the features and benefits of various cars during test drives!
The salesperson closes the transaction through in-person negotiations about pricing and financing options.
Of course, it’s crucial for sales agents to follow up post-sale to ensure customer satisfaction and encourage future business or referrals.
Inside Sales Vs. Outside Sales Team Structure
How do team structures vary regarding inside sales vs. outside sales?
Many business owners are surprised to hear the roles are identical; however, the way each employee performs the role differs!
The sales director in an outside sales team typically oversees field operations and strategies.
This person ensures the team meets its sales quotas through in-person customer interactions and negotiations.
Conversely, a sales director in an inside sales team focuses more on the following things:
- Managing remote sales operations
- Leveraging technology and digital platforms for customer engagement
- Lead generation
- Virtual product demonstrations
Sales managers in an outside sales team often have a hands-on role, coordinating and supporting their team members during client meetings and deal negotiations.
Meanwhile, in an inside sales team, these managers are primarily desk-bound, utilizing technology to monitor and guide their team’s performance throughout the sales process.
As discussed throughout this article, inside and outside sales reps primarily differ regarding traveling and how they deliver sales pitches.
An outside sales team travels to meet their clients in person.
On the other hand, inside sales rep spend their time in the office or at home, delivering pitches virtually.
Sales engineers leverage their technical expertise to explain complex product features to potential customers, aligning the product’s capabilities with the client’s needs.
Customer Service Reps
Customer service representatives are vital for sales teams because they do the following things:
- Resolve customer issues
- Ensure customer satisfaction
- Foster long-term client relationships
How to Track the Performance of Inside & Outside Sales Reps
Here are seven ways to track how your inside and outside sales team performs!
Number of Appointments Set
The number of appointments set directly measures a sales rep’s effectiveness in prospecting and engaging potential clients.
This key performance indicator (KPI) reflects a team’s efficiency and outreach skills.
Lead Response Time
Lead response time is the duration between when a lead first makes contact and when a sales team responds.
This metric signifies the efficiency of a rep’s ability to connect with potential customers and convert opportunities into transactions.
The win rate is calculated as the number of closed deals divided by the total number of opportunities.
Win rates demonstrate the sales rep’s ability to convert potential leads into paying customers.
The close rate measures the percentage of sales opportunities successfully converted into actual sales!
The acquisition cost is all the expenses involved in acquiring a new customer.
This metric is a significant indicator of sales performance, reflecting the efficiency of a sales team in attracting and converting prospects.
Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value estimates the total revenue a business can expect from a single customer account over the length of their relationship.
CLV measures a sales rep’s long-term value in the organization through customer retention and upselling or cross-selling efforts.
Customer Churn Rate
The customer churn rate measures the percentage of customers who end their relationship with a company in a given period.
This measure reflects the ability of a sales team to maintain customer interest, satisfaction, and loyalty over time.
Common Tools Used by Inside & Outside Sales
The three most popular tools inside and outside sales teams utilize include the following:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Customer communication tools
- Call tracking software
CRM software is a pivotal tool for every sales model, acting as a centralized database to track interactions with current and potential customers.
Further, CRM aids in the following things:
- Managing leads
- Simplifying customer communication
- Analyzing customer interactions
- Boost sales salary
- Provide in-depth data on the sales cycle
- Help sales representatives improve and meet sales goals
Customer Communication Tools
Customer communication tools streamline engaging with prospects and customers, allowing for efficient and personalized interactions that can drive sales.
These tools offer features such as:
- Automated responses
- Real-time chat
- Data analysis
When sales representatives respond promptly and tailor their sales pitch to individual customer preferences, it boosts customer satisfaction and the likelihood of sales conversions!
Call Tracking Software
Call tracking software assists sales teams by recording and analyzing phone call data, which can:
- Provide vital insights into customer behavior
- Help teams learn about campaign effectiveness
- Improve lead generation strategies
Final Thoughts on Inside and Outside Sales
Inside and outside sales are both vital for the entire sales process.
Outside sales reps spend time meeting clients in person, creating stronger relationships.
In comparison, an inside sales strategy aims to connect with customers virtually.
Will your company adopt inside or outside sales professionals? Let us know in the comments section!