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!

Building a sales team for your startup

Building a Great Sales Team For Your Startup

You have just done the semi-fearful, semi-exciting work of admitting to yourself that you need a sales team.

As a CEO with little sales experience or a newly appointed sales manager of a startup, this can be a daunting task. How do you start the process? What do you look out for? How do you ensure that your team is the absolute best and pulls in stellar revenue with each deal?

The answers to all of these are below.

When to Start Hiring?

There is a certain specific time when you begin the process of building your sales team. And that is not when you are still on day 5 of your business.

You start hiring when you have more deals than you can handle:

This is a good place to be in except when it is not. You have interested prospects lined up but you do not have the time to convert them into customers. Your selling process is limited because of a lack of follow-up.

Who are you Hiring?

Before you start scheduling interviews, you must know the roles that you will be hiring for.

When it comes to building a sales team, you look for people to fit the role of either an SDR (Sales Development Rep) or AE (Account Executive).

What is the difference between the two?

An SDR’s job is to generate leads and set the stage for a sale to happen. The AE takes it from there and does the important task of closing these deals.

Every day, an SDR sits down and based on the ideal customer profile, generates leads at specific companies.

This can involve sending around 50-300 emails per day and calling about 50-100 people every day.

The success metric for an SDR is the number of scheduled appointments and qualified demos.

An AE, on the other hand, follows up on the interested leads generated by SDRs. More often than not, they meet the prospect in person, seek to understand their problem, and then give solutions in the form of their products.

The success metric for an AE is the number of closed deals.

SDRs pass on the baton to AEs so to speak.

Scaling Your Sales Team

You begin building your team by hiring 2 AEs.

This is because depending on the particular situation you are in you would already have a few leads that you need to follow-up on.

Before the SDRs come in to generate new leads, you need to ensure that your AEs can close the deals that you already have.

These early days AEs need to be highly passionate, hustling, and creative. This is because their responsibility is to market and sell a product that still has a limited audience. This will require them to think out-of-the-box and be persistent with their efforts.

Also, the AEs that you hire first will take on the role of an SDR too. But only initially. Once the AEs begin to pull in business and close deals, you can move on to hire SDRs. Growing your team at this point would look like going from 2 to 3 AEs and from 2 to 3 SDRs.

When it comes to hiring SDRs, you would be looking for a person who has great drive, is passionate about the domain your product belongs to, is curious with a thirst to learn and improve, and can be a great team player.

Once you have a team of 5-6 people in place, you look for a team leader. There are two ways to go about this- either hire someone from outside or promote one of the people in your in-house sales team.

Companies go for the first option when they are looking to bring the sales acumen of another company into their company. However, if you already have a growth model in place, you can go for promoting the most talented/ experienced AE as the leader.

Once your team is ready with a leader, hire slowly. With 3 AEs in the team, you don’t need to hire more until their schedules are overflowing. If their schedules aren’t full to the brim, the SDRs need to improve their lead generation game.

How to Hire

You now have an idea of what your hiring process will look like and how you will scale. But when you finally sit down to interview a candidate, how do you judge them?

The first step is to have a written plan for your sales team addressing key questions.

Do you need an inside sales or field sales team? What kind of business do you want to pull in? Was is your base target? How many experienced and amateur professionals do you need? If you want experienced professionals, what kind of experience and background will you be looking for? How much will you pay? Once the hiring is done, how will you support and train them?

Only after you have answered these questions sufficiently well, you should head to the interview room. Once there, keep the below pointers in mind:

Look for the right kind of sales talent

The right kind of sales talent cannot be pigeonholed or described completely in an ad on

You look for a person who is intelligent. Marks during the degree course are not indicators of intelligence. Evaluate the response of the person during the interview. If you are going to sell a technical product, you need a person who is well-versed in the technical language but can still describe the product in layman terms should the need arise.

Next, you look for enthusiasm. Synonyms for the same include passion, hunger, drive. Sales is hard. You are convincing people to give a piece of their time (and consequently money). You have to be persistent and not lose heart easily. Having the ability to approach the client and deal with them with same optimistic attitude as you did on the first day is crucial.

Speaking of persistence, you need someone who is patient. Someone who won’t give up before all the possible no’s have been said.

Also, look at the person’s aspirations. ‘Where do you see yourself 1 year/ 5 years/ 10 years from now?’ If they have an ambitious plan in place, you can bet that they’ll do all they can to hustle their way to the top.

Finally, look at how willing the person is to learn. At no point in any career can one say that there is nothing more to learn. For the 1-2 AEs that you hire in the beginning, this trait is all the more important. If you have little sales experience yourself and have no sales leader to lead them, they themselves will be responsible for their learning. They should have the drive to learn from their experiences and figure out what does and doesn’t work.

Aim for Diversity

Build a team that is diverse in terms of gender, culture, and experience.

First, a diverse team means a wide-ranging set of talents. Women bring their empathy, whereas men bring their tirelessness work ethic. This is not to say that men are not compassionate or that women can’t work hard. It just happens that there are some traits which are natural to a large percentage of a gender. The overall team that is created is more balanced.

A culturally diverse team means that you have different people you can go to when in need of different perspectives. Also, as your clientele expands, an SDR from Germany will be better able to tell the cultural and professional nuances of a German client to an English AE. Also, people are more easily able to trust people from the same racial/ ethnic/ cultural background. You can leverage this fact when trying to permeate new markets.

When you have a team where everyone has varying experiences and backgrounds, everyone is kept on their toes. The juniors are eager to learn from their seniors while the seniors are continuously challenged to retain their position by the very same juniors. This fuels drive which (hopefully) leads to more leads and conversions.

After Hiring

Have a learning process in place that readies your new employees to be successful in their roles. Set targets and deadlines and encourage them when they seem to falter. Remember, the team is as new for them as it is for you. Invest in tools, technologies, people, and workshops that improve their knowledge and help them to work efficiently. Use leaderboards and a point system to (positively) motivate them.

Set benchmarks of excellence and mediocrity. Those who keep up with the former, reward or promote. Those who aren’t able to move beyond the latter, fire away.

Summing up

Building a successful sales team is no easy task. There is a high chance that initially your newly-formed sales team doesn’t look like your dream team. Worry not. With time, patience, and all the other skills of a salesperson, you and your team will soon be on your way to creating more business than you can keep up with! Which is a very, very good thing.

10 must have characteristics of sales teams

10 Must-Have Characteristics of High Performing Sales Teams

Despite the churn and the complexities that our business ecosystem has witnessed in recent years, there is one fundamental truth that remains true till date- “nothing can happen unless somebody sells something.”

If you wish to have a sales team that can deliver consistently high results, you must begin with creating a high-performance sales organization.

What are the Key Characteristics of the highest performing sales team?

Let’s have a look at the key traits of the high performing sales team and what differentiates them from the average ones.

Working on them will not only help you foster a culture where people are passionate to achieve their goals.

#1. Define your sales culture and hire according to it

What is your sales culture?

Is it collaborative or competitive or a healthy mix of both. What is your salespeople’s attitude towards the prospects and clients? Does “helping clients succeed” takes priority over “meeting quotas at all cost” or the other way around? How important is the element of fun?

Once you nail down the culture, hiring the right people who fit your culture becomes easy.

#2. Have Structured Sales Processes

According to research by the Sales Management Association, 90% of all companies that use structured, guided and formal sales process are ranked high performing.

(A sales process typically consists of 5-7 steps: Generating Leads/ prospecting; Qualifying leads, recognizing needs; providing the solution; managing objections, closing and supporting.)

Why sales structure is a key characteristic of high performing sales teams:

  • A structured process will help in clearly breaking down the steps of selling while identifying the best practices for each stage in the cycle.
  • A high performing sales team involves reps who are extremely driven and goal oriented. A structured sales process makes it more satisfying for the team to track progress in a concrete way.
  • Having the sales steps clearly laid out in a detailed manner makes training new hires much simple for managers and less overwhelming for salespeople.

#3. Equip Your Team with Enablement Tools

Once the groundwork of hiring the right people for your sales team and process mapping is complete, it’s time to equip the team with smart tools to ensure they are able to manage the timelines and deliver quality work.

While there can be no dearth of smart technology-driven tools you wish to provide your sales team with, make sure not to miss out on these essential tools that will leverage technology to more win-win deals. These are:

CRM: CRM (customer-relationship-management) software’s with facilities such as email management and tracking, SMS functionality, phone-calling are a lifeboat to any sales team.

Smart Contact Management: These take away the daunting task of manual entries allowing sales reps to give more time to selling.

Productivity Suite: These tools can enhance sales performance and are a must to have for your sales team. Some popular productivity tools are:

  • Business email such as Gmail
  • Document Management Tools such as PandaDoc
  • Video Conferencing tools such as Zoho or Slack
  • Cloud Storage Google Drive, Dropbox
  • Calendar Solutions such as Zoho Calendar

These tools can help in turning sales conversations into pitches,  reducing the sales cycle, identifying potential leads, and more.

#4. Employ a Robust Coaching Methodology

Roughly three fourths (74 percent) of leading companies have said that regular coaching and monitoring are crucial for the sales team to perform well consistently.

In order to get a better sense of what a strong sales coaching looks like, here are some examples:

  • Reviewing a call session with the salesperson on what went wrong and coming up with areas where improvement can be done
  • Conducting a weekly in-meeting-talks about the areas of sales where reps are less confident and then discussing strategies to boost confidence
  • Accompanying reps on the field for mentoring and motivation

Ask your sales team if they are being trained and coached well and if they can tie to it to accelerate performance.

#5. Implement data-driven accountability

It is important to build a common understanding of core metrics with your sales team.

Developing a clear understanding of sales metrics brings every team member on the same page.

The right metric can depend on sales organization, company or industry. I am listing down some important sales metrics that matter the most:

Quota Attainment: This refers to the percentage of sales reps meeting the quota that reflects if the quotes are too low or high.

Going by the rule of thumb, the quotas are considered to be unrealistic if less than 60% is met. This also lets you decide to whether to hire better salespeople or fire the underperformers.

Average Deal Size: This is calculated by dividing the total amount of deals (in dollars) with the total number of deals closed.

Looking at this metric tells whether the contracts are getting larger, smaller or are still the same.

Moreover, if you find that the average deal size of a sales rep is less than the team average, it could mean the person is going too fast with low payback customers and needs to push aggressively towards more competitive or large customers. It could even mean he is discounting quickly.

Conversion Rates: Also called the “win rate”, this measures the percentage of leads turning to customers.

This metric lets one calculate how many leads need to be converted to meet the revenue targets. For e.g.:  If your monthly team quota is $600,000 and the average deal size is $1000, the team need to close 600 deals.  And if 10% of your leads are turning to customers, you need 6,000 leads per month.

#6. Allow Some Room for Growth

Being a sales leader, coming out with solutions to every problem is not very impressive, on the contrary, it’s obsolete and wrong.  

To improve engagement, ask your sales team to come up with their own solutions.

For instance, you can say “Team, we have scored low on this aspect, what should we start doing or change to improve?

Also, do not forget “not to sweat the small stuff”, be comfortable with the 10% that did not go according to the plan as it will make the 90% that went well more enjoyable for everyone around.

#7. Arm your team with true feedback

Sales leaders often fail to give the time on feedback, however, it can bring a great difference not only for individual reps but also for the team as a whole.

Most often we think of feedback as positive or negative, but here’s a new way to consider while giving employee feedback: redirecting or reinforcing.

Reinforcing feedback is when we want someone to keep doing a particular positive behavior. In other words, giving it means verbally reinforcing the positive effects of an employee action.

On the other hand, if we are sticking only to negative feedback that means we are only telling them to stop doing a particular action. With redirecting feedback, we are telling a rep to stop doing X and start practicing Y.

Examples of Feedback:

1. Something that I really appreciate about you is the knack to approaching problems and the zeal to come up with witty solutions! [Reinforcing feedback]

2.  I strongly feel you have a superpower around making customers feel convinced and influenced while selling products. [Reinforcing feedback]

3.   Do you have a minute to catch up on how X went? ( This is a good way to get started after a sales project or presentation and then come up with areas of improvement you wish to direct your team.) [Redirecting feedback]

#8. Share positive customer stories to instill motivation

Are you familiar with the phrase, “Sales is the hardest easy job in the world?” Behind every cold call, there is a challenge waiting to get solved.

Given the enormous dedication with which salesperson is constantly trying to get their numbers down, it can sometimes feel like a vicious cycle of thankless grind!

Having a regular meeting to share positive customer stories and how the company’s product is improving the lives of thousands around, can go a long way in much-needed motivation for sales reps.

It can help the sales team to push themselves while facing new challenges and reminding them what they are doing really makes some difference in the world and lives of people.

#9. Modernize Your Approach to Leadership

A sales leader or manager is the often considered responsible for ‘raising the bar of the company’.

With engagement and feedback culture increasingly spreading, any modern-day sales team requires proactive and responsible leadership.

Modern-day sales leaders need to be emotionally intelligent to break through the “quintessential mold of rigid sales leadership”.  

They should be assertive enough to state what they need clearly and at the same time should combine it with empathy to make tough conversations whenever necessary.  

Leaders should focus on empowering teams through monitoring, coaching, support that can shape their team’s success while bringing milestones for the organization.

#10. Do not forget to have fun together

A high-performance sales team is not limited to the competency of individuals comprising it but a spirit where collaboration is appreciated to achieve shared gain.

The best teams are not willing to just work together but also enjoy and have fun together.

The bonding can happen by allowing a fun environment to prosper from time to time. The approach to creating it can vary, say some companies do it through their an annual sales kick-off event, some do it by hosting a sports match at tropical locations while others do it by conducting a fancy dress day in office.

Whatever be the way, the goal is to foster better relationships among professionals giving them space to build rapport outside their work environment.

Summing Up

Having said enough, it’s not hard to understand that why teams selling works exceptionally well for some companies and is a complete failure for others. The keys to success for modern-day sales teams begins with identifying sales culture and hiring accordingly; incorporating structured processes; employing robust coaching methodology; implementing data-driven accountability; allowing room for growth; giving consistent feedback and modernizing your way to leadership.

Employing the above strategies will not only help in building high performing sales teams for your organization but also fuel in new energy and zest ensuring that the overall atmosphere of the company is positively impacted.