Which side are you on the inside vs outside sales debate? Keep reading to find out how you can differentiate between the two and learn how they work.
In this article:
- Variety of Business Tactics
- Quality and Quantity
- Sales Cycle and Conversion
- Qualifications and Skill Sets
Differences Between Inside vs Outside Sales
Inside Sales Definition: Inside sales are sales made from working behind a desk, or “remotely.” It is also known as “remote sales,” as sales reps who practice this communicate with their clients virtually (i.e. through phone or email).
Outside Sales Definition: Outside sales are sales made outside the office. Sales reps who practice this meet up with their clients in person to present and close the deal.
1. Variety of Business Tactics
When you compare inside vs outside sales, you’ll see that each uses business tactics that align with the nature of their work.
Sales reps for outside sales use displays, presentations, and sample products whenever they interact with prospects and clients face to face. These are very effective, as it’s easier for people to process visual references compared to text-based presentations.
This preference for visually-oriented presentations gives outside sales reps an advantage. Since they meet with their clients in person, they can use these kinds of tactics to grab their prospects’ attention and persuade them.
Although inside sales reps engage their prospects and clients remotely, their methods are also catching up with outside sales’. Meeting with people through web conferences, for example, closes the distance between all parties.
Through this and online meetings with screen sharing, sales reps can present their offers without meeting prospects and clients in person. Other tactics useful for outside sales are telesales, hosted CRM, and social media.
Though sales reps employ different business tactics, they only have one goal. All these should lead to closed deals and revenue for the company.
2. Quality and Quantity
When it comes to quantity and quality, what are the arguments for each in the inside vs outside sales debate?
Sales reps for inside sales typically have more time to sell as they stay in the office for most of the day.
They can contact and sell to more people each day, as they don’t have to travel to reach those they’re targeting. This also allows them to target a specific number of people to sell to each day.
While deals closed through inside sales are usually not what you would call “big-ticket,” it doesn’t mean you’ll only yield low-quality customers. What often happens is, the orders that inside sales reps receive are smaller in quantity compared to the ones produced by outside sales reps.
There is a reason why outside sales reps need to meet with their prospects and clients in person. It’s because, typically, what they sell are high-quality, complex products and services that come at steep prices. They need to properly explain their offers so that their target market will understand their need for them.
Due to the travel time they consume, and considering that they’re expected to connect with a specific target market, outside sales reps may sell to fewer customers.
Basically put, you can distinguish inside sales vs outside sales as follows:
- Inside Sales — Reaches more people, but the revenue from each client may be smaller
- Outside Sales — Reaches less people, but the revenue from each client is generally higher
3. Sales Cycle and Conversion
You’ll also see differences when you compare the sales cycle and conversion of inside and outside sales.
Naturally, inside sales have a shorter sales cycle. This is because of the limited personal interaction between the sales rep and the customer.
On the other hand, field representatives for outside sales have longer sales cycles. They also do more legwork. For instance, if they’re selling in a physical retail store, they need to manage inventory, set up displays, and visit the store regularly.
Sales reps for outside sales are more likely to build stronger relationships with their clients because of the amount of personal interaction they have.
When it comes to converting prospects, field reps have the upper hand. They’re able to convert prospects into clients more often than inside sales reps do.
Yet inside sales is seeing faster growth than outside sales due to its convenience.
4. Qualifications and Skill Sets
Considering the nature of their work, there are certain qualifications and skill sets that sales reps must possess. Much like how inside and outside sales are different, their sales reps also require different skills.
An inside sales representative must:
- Be Articulate — They must be able to express themselves well. Inside sales reps sell from behind the phone or computer screen, so they should be engaging and persuasive enough to get people to buy from them. They should be able to explain their products and services in an understandable and relatable way.
- Be Collaborative — Inside sales reps work in the office, so they interact with their colleagues every day. They should have a collaborative attitude to be able to work well with the rest of the sales team.
- Have Administrative Skills — Selling isn’t the only thing that inside sales reps do. They also attend to everyday administrative tasks in the office, so they need to balance both sides of the job.
An outside sales representative must:
- Be Able to Work Independently — Outside sales reps are also called “field reps” as they’re the ones who meet with clients to present and close deals. To maximize their time, they should be able to work independently and manage their own schedule and client appointments.
- Be Able to Adapt Well — They meet new people and visit new places often, so outside sales reps must be able to adjust easily to these new environments. Having this quality makes it easier for them to do their job better.
- Always Look Their Best — Compared to inside sales, working in outside sales means reps should be more attentive to how they present themselves. They should always look and be at their best whenever they face prospects and clients.
It’s also worth considering the costing differences between the two, and how each can affect company expenses.
Outside sales is often more costly. This is because field reps have higher entry-level salaries compared to inside sales reps.
They also require additional work allowances to cover their travel and client meeting costs. That, and paying field reps through commission make it a bit more difficult for the company to settle on a set revenue and overhead costs.
Inside sales reps, on the other hand, have a more stable salary range as they have fixed schedules and working hours in the office.
Inside sales also works on cost-efficient platforms, which lessen acquisition expenses. These include the commonly-used CRM databases, web conference platforms, and analytics software.
As different as inside and outside sales may be, you can still find ways to incorporate both strategies in your business. It doesn’t always have to be inside vs outside sales — you can create your own strategy to get the best of both worlds.
For instance, your field reps don’t always have to spend the whole day away from the office. They can make calls and set appointments from the office, then travel to the clients’ location to present and close the deal.
This will help you assess if inside and outside sales working together is practical for your sales team and overall business.
Which side are you on the inside vs outside sales debate? How does it help your business? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!