Despite their differences, both inside and outside sales play an essential role in driving revenue and growth for businesses. This article looks closely at inside sales, defining what it is and how it differs from outside sales. We will also explore the advantages and disadvantages of inside sales and provide insights into how businesses can optimize their inside sales strategies to drive success. Let’s dive right in:
What is Inside Sales?
Inside sales is the process of selling to prospects remotely, typically over the phone, email, or video conference, as opposed to in person.
Suitable for both B2B and B2C technology organisations, usually within an office-based environment, but thanks to the lasting effects of the pandemic, the role is becoming increasingly home-based.
As such, inside sales reps rely on phone calls, email software and online channels to prospect, position and present to leads.
Yet, if you ask ten salespeople to define the term inside sales, you’ll likely get ten different answers.
It is one of those terms whose definition changes slightly depending on who uses it.
It’s next to impossible to pinpoint an exact definition everyone can agree on.
The easiest way to think about inside sales is that people use the term to describe an approach to sales that is the opposite of outside sales.
Yet, that definition doesn’t offer much clarity unless you know something about outside sales:
What is Outside Sales?
Outside sales require sales reps to go into the field to meet with prospects face-to-face.
The people who engage in outside sales are archetypal road warriors.
Often crisscrossing the country, perhaps visiting the home office occasionally, but working mainly on the road.
Inside Sales Vs Outside Sales: Which is Better?
Inside and outside sales are two different methods of selling products or services, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
Unlike outside sales, inside sales don’t require a meeting with leads in person or spending hours away from the office.
All client contact is remote.
The lack of face-to-face communication is why many sales professionals prefer to use the term ‘remote sales’ instead of the more ambiguous ‘inside sales’ to describe the concept.
In addition to dealing with customers remotely from the office, almost all definitions of inside sales recognise the need for a high level of personal contact throughout the selling process.
Unlike outside sales, where potential customers may only have the opportunity to talk with a salesperson a few times a month, inside sales is a high-touch sales approach where leads expect immediate responses to their questions and demand much more hand-holding along the way.
The need for constant and immediate customer care necessitates that salespeople can make difficult decisions on the fly.
This flexibility requires a deep level of sales knowledge and experience for success.
Advantages of Inside Sales
To continue your understanding of the rising importance of inside sales, here are some of the benefits that the inside sales model offers that outside sales models don’t:
- Customers prefer dealing with salespeople remotely to meeting with them in person, as remote meetings allow businesses to reduce the time required to commit to sales meetings and help keep necessary meetings more productive.
- It costs less: than outside sales as there are a lot of additional costs when reps visit customers directly.
- Employees enjoy a work/life balance: Travelling to meet leads at their location can take a real toll on a sales rep’s personal life. Remember, millennials now make up a significant percentage of the workforce and are unwilling to sacrifice their quality of life for a paycheck.
- Broader reach: and sell to geographically dispersed customers; advantageous for companies with a national or global customer base.
- Enhanced data analytics provide insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and needs. You can use this data to refine sales strategies and improve customer engagement.
Typical Inside Sales Model Structure
The inside sales structure can vary depending on the company’s size, industry, and sales goals. However, here is a general overview of the inside sales structure:
Lead Capture (Prospecting): Sales reps use digital sales technology like cold emailing, offering downloadable gated resources, databases, and social media to find qualified leads.
Lead Qualifying: Once a potential customer has been identified, the inside sales representative must qualify them to determine whether they are a good fit for their product or service. This may involve asking questions about their needs, budget, decision-making process, and timeline.
Sales Pitch/Sales Call: Once the lead is qualified and has expressed interest, the sales rep reaches out to pitch. This may include a demo or presentation, generally delivered virtually, that speaks to the customer’s needs.
Closing The Deal: After reps handle objections, the inside salesperson works to close the deal. This may include offering discounts, adjusting the onboarding process, or adding additional features.
Overall, the inside sales model focuses on lead generation and qualification rather than diving straight into a pitch.
Therefore the overall benefits of inside sales include a faster sales cycle and scalability.
Inside Sales vs Telemarketing: What’s the Difference?
Okay, we know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking inside sales sounds an awful lot like telemarketing.
But it isn’t the same thing.
This is a critical argument against those who combine inside sales with telemarketing.
While it is true that both selling methods take place remotely, that is where the similarities end.
Unlike experienced inside sales reps, telemarketers usually lack a strong sales background and depend on the use of a script to sell low-priced products or services.
Most telemarketing calls are ‘do-or-die’ situations, meaning that if they don’t make the sale immediately, the telemarketers will move on to the next contact on their list.
Contrarily, inside sales reps do their best to establish an ongoing relationship with prospects.
Another critical separation between the two sales method is that while telemarketing conduct business solely by phone, inside sales reps, use various communication methods, including telephone, email, and video conferencing.
The Role of the Inside Sales Representative
To ensure that the salespeople can handle this demanding environment, most people who fill inside sales positions have established backgrounds in selling.
Most people are willing to agree that the main defining factors of inside sales are highly skilled sales reps who spend time nurturing qualified leads to make remote sales of high-ticket products or services. E-learning platforms like SOCO Academy are a useful tool to learn and qualify leads in the meantime.
How to Approach Inside Sales for Success
The complex customer requirements of most modern customers now require adherence to the best practices for successful inside sales below:
Step 1. Get the Right Software
Leads no longer come in by phone or email; they come in from the web, social, chat, messaging and more.
Marketing activities don’t only generate leads; they come in through digital networking and omnichannel strategies.
As such, having a standard CRM tool is no longer enough to keep in touch with customers and find new prospects effectively.
Instead, it requires precise targeting of prospects.
This, in turn, requires a heavily data-driven approach, making a variety of complex CRM databases, automation tools, sales ai tools, social analytics and web conferencing platforms essential for inside sales success.
Not sure where to start building your inside sales tech stack? Check out our guide to Essential Sales Technology Stacks for Professionals
2. Align Sales & Marketing
It’s always been a tale as old as time.
Sales complain that marketing doesn’t help them generate enough leads.
Whereas marketing complains that sales don’t make the best use of the ones they do get!
For an inside sales approach, this practice must end, and both departments must synergise.
It’s even been reported that organisations that adopt a sales enablement strategy report a 15% increase in win rates for forecasted deals (according to Brainshark).
Sales enablement isn’t just about making profits; it’s essential to help salespeople be effective in sales.
The right sales enablement strategy equips reps with the training, coaching, and content they need to be successful.
Not sure where to start? Check out our Guide To Sales Enablement Strategies.
3. Motivate Sales Teams with Development Opportunities
Long-term sales success using the inside sales approach depends on how motivated and nurtured your sales team is in general.
That’s why offering the opportunity for your sales reps to improve as a salesperson is essential.
Motivate your inside sales team with sales training straight from a professional coach, and help them develop advanced techniques in E-learning sales training courses.
Or get them tickets to an upcoming conference or motivational keynote.
Learn Essential Coaching Skills for Managers
More and more companies use coaching techniques to create a supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect, trust and results.
Our Coaching Skills Training for Team Leaders, Managers and Business Owners focuses on different coaching styles and how they can be applied to various scenarios.
Learn how to use effective questioning and listening to provoke team members to create their own solutions, resulting in a dramatic increase in their motivation and dedication to the task.