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What Is Inside Sales? — Our Definition Of Inside Sales
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Learn how we define inside sales and where the term comes from. In this post, we also share how inside sales can create an impact on businesses and how you can utilize it for your organization.

RELATED: Creating A Culture Of Experimentation In Inside Sales

In this article:

    1. What Is Inside Sales?
    2. How the Term “Inside Sales” Was Created
    3. Inside Sales to Generate Leads
    4. The Impact of Behind the Cloud Book on Salesforce.com
    5. Another Description of Inside Sales
    6. The Benefits of Inside Sales
    7. The Challenges of Inside Sales
    8. Is Inside Sales Solutions Right for Your Business?
    9. Should Companies Use Inside Sales Software?
    10. Top 20 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com

Inside Sales Definition and Its History

What Is Inside Sales?

The most pragmatic definition of inside sales is simple:

It is “remote sales,” most recently called “virtual sales,” or professional sales done remotely. In contrast, outside sales” or traditional field sales is done face-to-face.

Taken in this context, the majority of all sales is done remotely, and the numbers are growing. A recent study done by SKKU and MIT, in conjunction with infoUSA, found that over the last three years, remote sales have been growing at a rate of fifteen times higher (7.5% versus .5% annually) over outside sales, to the tune of 800,000 new jobs.

More evidence: if you don’t believe it, grab a list of 10 traditional or “outside sales” people and call them. Seven out of 10 will be sitting in front of their computer, working in their cubicle, office, or home office – just like the remote sales professionals.

How the Term “Inside Sales” Was Created

The term “inside sales” originally came about in the late 1980s as an attempt to differentiate “telemarketing” (or “telesales” in the UK) from the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices.

Telemarketing is often believed to have begun in the 1950s by DialAmerica Marketing, Inc., reported as being the first company dedicated to telephone sales and services. By the 1970s, telemarketing was a common phrase used to describe the process of selling over the telephone.

It often included both outbound and inbound, but later became much more synonymous with the types of outbound calling we’re all familiar with. Large-scale “blasts” to lists of names to try and drum up quick sales, usually while the family is sitting around the dinner table.

By the late 1990s/early 2000s, “remote sales” was the term used to differentiate the practice from outside sales – the traditional face-to-face sales model where salespeople go to the client’s location of business to engage in the sales process.

Inside Sales to Generate Leads

Companies found the new channel of Inside Sales to be undeniably effective. However, they often didn’t know what to do to solve the conflict between the younger, disruptive, more technically savvy upstarts who sold over the phone and their more senior counterparts who wielded incredible political power in their organizations as the entrenched source of revenue for nearly a century.

For years, remote sales have been relegated to generating leads for the more senior outside sales reps or merely closing the smaller accounts. This is now no longer the case.

Many companies are already using a hybrid form of remote sales, with reps calling from their company’s home office and then traveling occasionally to client locations and merely calling it “sales.”

The Impact of Behind the Cloud Book on Salesforce.com

man reading book | What Is Inside Sales? — Our Definition Of Inside Sales | inside sales representative

By Marc Benioff’s own admission in his book “Behind the Cloud,” salesforce.com “grew their company for the first five or six years with a telesales or remote sales model.” They added outside sales, or field sales, to go upmarket when they wanted to sell to enterprise-class companies, but the company still does a majority of their sales work remotely.

Another Description of Inside Sales

Another way of defining “inside sales” is to also state what it is not. Remote sales is not telemarketing.

Let me repeat: Inside sales is NOT telemarketing. Telemarketing is a scripted, single-call-close, almost always targeting a small-ticket, B2C model.

  • Remote sales is not scripted. It requires multiple calls or “touches” to create a sales close, involves medium or large ticket goods and services, and targets B2B or high-end B2C transactions.
  • This marketing strategy is professional sales done remotely. It is not the mindless “phone drone” that calls at dinner time and won’t hang up until you have said “no” seven times.
  • It is also not a customer service. Although remote sales frequently involves an element of inbound call handling like a customer service department, in its pure form, it is not customer service.

Some companies erroneously describe their inbound call centers as “inside sales,” but this does not fall within the boundaries of our definition unless the agents’ primary function is selling.

RELATED: How to Create A Cultural Transformation for Your Inside Sales Team

The Benefits of Inside Sales

Great benefits await a sales organization that understands what this strategy is and how exactly to use it:

  • Working on flexible hours to adapt to client schedules
  • Better revenue forecasting
  • Flexibility to quickly change the sales team size to adapt to changes in business strategies
  • Increased sales productivity without traveling for business meetings
  • Increased sales activities like calling and selling
  • Better data and analytics for salespeople to understand their market
  • Convenience and efficacy in product demonstration not just over the phone but also through web conferencing
  • Improved customer experience as digital, online, or social media marketing are preferable to customers or potential buyers

The Challenges of Inside Sales

Difficult to Build Customer Trust and Relationships

Although there are many benefits to this sales strategy, there are also challenges that come with remote sales. One major challenge is the difficulty in developing customer trust and relationships.

Although many clients prefer online, digital, or social media marketing for convenience, it’s still different than if they can see the salesperson face-to-face. Physical interaction and conversations with the clients still create a significant impact on building customer trust and loyalty to the brand and the products and services.

Finding and Developing Talents 

Another challenge for remote sales, just like outside sales or any type of sales, is finding and developing talents. Companies may have high standards in recruiting an inside sales representative, but that doesn’t mean that those who meet the requirements can successfully bring good returns or conversion rates to the company.

Training people is still important in developing talents because it helps to better understand company goals.

Aside from that, finding and developing talent can be costly, too, because companies need to make sure these people are ready to face the real world. Sales leaders and sales managers need to use the most effective resources or training materials to train new recruits, which is another challenge.

Companies should invest in these tools to make the most out of their training.

Is Inside Sales Solutions Right for Your Business?

businessman thinking | What Is Inside Sales? — Our Definition Of Inside Sales | inside sales job description

Using inside sales to expand business and improve sales

While remote sales may have clear benefits on reaching company goals, focusing on remote sales alone to increase sales may not be the right idea. Remote sales may be productive and provide high ROIs, but it still has to go back to what your company goals and your products and services are.

For example:

  • Some enterprise sales with high costs may require outside sales to complete the selling process.
  • Businesses may use remote sales though to consult the market of what their interests are, so companies can evaluate how they can go about in their sales.

When they have gathered enough data and have analyzed this information, they can start adding outside sales marketing to make selling more effective and build customer trust and a good brand image.

The bottom line is this: use remote sales as a stepping stone to increase sales and effectively promote revenue growth.

Should Companies Use Inside Sales Software?

Using remote sales software also provide advantages to businesses in the sales cycle through its capabilities, such as:

  • Social listening
  • Coaching and training
  • Appointment setting
  • Content engagement
  • Email templates and tracking
  • Data quality
  • Predictive analytics
  • Contact sourcing

Aside from making the sales process easier, faster, and more efficient for reps, this technology can also aid businesses in monitoring the performance of their sales reps. These can provide metrics to help sales leaders see what’s working and what needs improvement when it comes to team management.

If these advantages and capabilities sound useful for your business goals, then investing in remote sales software is a good option. This can help you eliminate questions about how many demos sales reps should perform to customers, talk and face time with customers, how many calls and visits sales reps need to make, communication skills of the sales reps, and others.

Top 20 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com

Here is the list of the top 20 articles on www.KenKrogue.com with a total number of views:

  1. What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales | Ken Krogue – 16,115 Views
  2. Inside Sales Best Practices – 1,623 Views
  3. Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue – 1,026 Views
  4. KPI – Key Performance Indicators – 867 Views
  5. Inside Sales versus Outside Sales – 542 Views
  6. Is Leaving a Voicemail Worthwhile? – 456 Views
  7. 6 Reasons Salesforce Users Need Hosted Dialer Technology – 382 Views
  8. Behind the Cloud – Ken’s Notes – 310 Views
  9. Inside Sales Tips – No Vacations Last Week of the Month – 298 Views
  10. Funny Inside Sales Videos – 290 Views
  11. Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 273 Views
  12. Demand Generation Tactics and Strategy – 258 Views
  13. Inside Sales Tips – Interest is The Counterfeit of Need – 252 Views
  14. Inside Sales is Top Method of Lead Generation – 231 Views
  15. Inside Sales Training – 214 Views
  16. Inside Sales Tips – How LinkedIn Gives you 3 Free SEO Backlinks – 206 Views
  17. Inside Sales Tips – Specialize – 174 Views
  18. Marketing B2B 4 Quick Email Tips – 168 Views
  19. Leadscon East Vendors Need to Drink their Own Medicine – 137 Views
  20. What is Lead Response Management – 137 Views

Author: Ken Krogue | Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

 

Inside sales is not telemarketing, and it involves different forms of sales activities that target increased lead generation and sales acceleration. The key to using this strategy effectively is to understand what it is and to know how and when to utilize it in the sales process.

How was your experience with remote sales? Let us know n the comments section.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 30, 2010, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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