Inside vs. Outside Sales: Which Works Best for You?

Inside vs. Outside Sales: Which Works Best for You?

Inside sales or outside? This is one common debate that has been existing in the business landscape regarding which strategy is better from the other. But, speaking of the current market, the two roles are blending and have become an important part of the sales organizational structure.

While for business owners, choosing the right sales strategy could directly impact their business success on the other hand for sales professionals it could mean choosing the right job that could impact their professional life.

Before one can come to a final decision between choosing inside or outside sales, it is important to know the differences between them which we will break down in this brief piece of annotation.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Breaking down the Basics

If we speak at the most elementary level, the difference between outside and inside sales lies in the fact where the sales process is happening: Are the products being sold remotely or in-person?

Inside sales representatives identify, reach and turn prospective leads into customers remotely i.e. over phone or online, while outside sales personnel go outside to meet their prospective customers face to face.

Inside sales rely on phone, internet or email for reaching customers, it is often referred to as ‘virtual’ or ‘remote sales’. On the other hand, outside sales go beyond the doors of a formal office or team’s environment involving professionals to work autonomously, hence it is also called “field sales”.

What are the Key factors for comparing between Inside and Outside Sales?

Tool Requirements

Outside and inside sales differ in terms of the tools required for closing the sales. When it comes to inside sales, the majority of tools that are required are needed for activity automation. Hence, CRM (customer-relationship-management) software with facilities such as email management and tracking, SMS functionality, phone calling for in best to inside sale scenes.

Outside sales professionals also require CRM but do not depend entirely on it. Additional technological tools are needed by the sales team on the field that can help them pitch their clients, demonstrate product activity on-site, manage map routes and monitor and conduct field training.

Scaling Capabilities

Outside sales professionals can reach a limited number of prospects on a daily basis as face to face meeting is needed while inside sales professionals enjoy a huge advantage over scaling capabilities as they can reach multiple prospects with the help of technology such as email automation.

So it’s not obvious to understand that while an outside salesperson is busy pitching clients and dining prospects to move towards the closing deal, an inside sales could have already closed multiple deals.

Quantity vs. Quality

Since inside sales professionals spent most of their time pitching clients over calls, emails and other similar modes of virtual communication, they do not face challenges of travel and logistics. 

Moreover, being on call for hours, their price point is lower hence they don’t have to focus on the same level of quality that outside sale professionals have to do.

This is perhaps the reason there are a higher number of successful demos completed and one-call closes in case of inside sales.

Outside sales tend to involve greater cost and more expensive products and services which is the reason why field reps meet clients and explain the functionalities with more detailing and intricacy. While outside sales team might have fewer meetings daily, it is likely to have well-targeted ones i.e. accounts for 30% higher closing rate than inside sales.

Sales Cycle

The sales cycle for an outside sales team is longer and more complicated as there is a constant requirement of face to face communication with more focus on volume, unlike inside salespeople who mostly rely on virtual communication for pitching clients and thus have comparatively shorter cycles.

Moreover, field sales can be intense requiring a lot of preparation beforehand.

For example: selling directly at retail stores can mean visiting the store, doing product displays and ensuring a constant supply of products and services.

Skills Needed

While inside and outside sales professionals have a lot of skills in common such as great communication skills, ability to play with words, being result oriented and driven to customer problems, there are some key differences that define the best skills required for each set:

Inside Sales Skills   Outside Sales Skills  
Should be good with words
and understand the
Should be comfortable to enjoy
working alone in the field  
Should enjoy working with
teammates and
collaborating with
Should be capable enough to manage their own appointments  
Should be able to manage 100+ calls a day   Should be able to manage their schedule
Should be able to accept and adapt to a high level ofchange   Should be adaptable and flexible with spontaneous changes, new environments they are set into

Benefits of Inside Sales

  • Lower Cost
  • Higher Communication and Collaboration involved
  • Higher Quota Attainment
  • Shorter Sales Cycles

Benefits of Outside Sales

  • Higher close rate
  • The deal size is considerably larger
  • Greater salary (10-12% higher approximately)
  • Freedom & Flexibility to manage schedules and territory

Wrapping Up

While there can be no readymade manual to find the answer as to which is a better business model to consider: Inside or outside sales, having both systems mutually in place sometimes can benefit in the long run especially when one knows what one is selling. Keeping in mind factors such as business structure, product requirements, prospective customer base and market, one can definitely make a better choice as to what works best for them!