A sales team may be composed of individuals filling various roles that support the company’s sales strategy.
While the specifics of each sales position may differ based on assigned duties, company structure, and industry focus, the team can reach its sales goals when each person understands what they add to the equation.
What Are Inside and Outside Sales Reps?
Two distinct roles in an organization’s sales team are inside and outside sales. Both types of sales professionals are concerned with the sales of products and services.
Generally, an inside sales team will work from an office setting and interact with customers via phone, email, or a virtual platform.
An inside sales rep may also have the option of remote selling from a home office, depending on company policy.
On the other hand, outside sales reps work in the field, taking face-to-face meetings with potential customers.
They will also interact with customers.
Understanding the Differences Between Inside and Outside Sales
The location of inside and outside sales reps is one of many differences between these roles. Consider some of the other differences often seen in inside sales vs. outside sales positions.
Inside sales reps will often experience shorter sales cycles than outside sales counterparts.
The sales process is focused on closing deals quickly and favors quantity of quality in sales numbers.
Sales strategies for inside sales reps will encourage more cold calling and prospecting for qualified leads because the leads tend to be lower quality.
Outside sales reps spend more time cultivating individual sales. Field sales reps generally experience a longer sales cycle than inside sales reps.
They offer higher-priced products and conduct product demonstrations for companies or individuals to highlight the positives in person.
An outside sales rep may experience a longer sales cycle due to offering more complex products and needing to meet higher customer demands to close deals.
While inside and outside sales teams need to be familiar with sales tools like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, inside sales reps also focus on other sales software tools.
Communication tools like video conferencing and social media platforms will allow an inside sales representative to be more efficient in a meeting with clients and prospecting for new ones.
A field sales representative is likelier to contact interested buyers at industry events, trade shows, or in-person meetings.
When discussing inside sales vs. outside sales, it is important to remember that both types of salespersons need basic negotiation and interpersonal skills, and both need confidence and diligence.
Inside sales reps may have a repetitive process more akin to following instructions.
Some inside sales teams may even have templates or scripts to guide them through the sales funnel.
Outside sales reps need a high degree of situational and emotional awareness. They think on their feet, answer customers’ questions, pick up on their nonverbal cues, and keep the conversation going.
This selling environment may increase pressure for outside sales reps, but the payoff can be worth the extra stress.
Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Which is Better?
So, which is better – inside or outside sales? The truth is that there are positives and negatives to both.
Many factors can determine whether a specific position is more advantageous based on the industry, company culture and goals, and preferences of the sales rep.
But consider a few highlights of each type of sales position.
Inside Sales Jobs
Inside sales reps often have more flexibility in their daily operations. They may have a greater range in where they decide to work and the types of communication channels they employ.
Inside sales teams generate far fewer expenses because they are not visiting customers.
They represent a smaller cost to the company since they are not actively accruing expenses like gas, flights, and hotel stays.
Since the average inside sales rep will be pushing smaller deal sizes, they can expect shorter sales cycles, leading to lower-stress selling.
However, there are some disadvantages to inside sales as well that should be mentioned.
Inside sales reps may need help identifying the best-qualified leads since they are not interacting with buyers face-to-face. They may experience lower close rates as a result.
The day-to-day activities of an inside sales rep can be repetitive, and such a structured schedule may become tedious unless the salesperson works on their motivations.
Relationship-building is also more difficult with the inside sales model because the communication channels are more impersonal.
Outside Sales Jobs
There are definite advantages for outside sales professionals who maintain the proper focus and drive.
Outside sales representatives experience less monotonous work, and they get to travel to different locations and meet new people constantly. And the company picks up the bill!
The average outside sales rep may have more freedom to set their schedule due to the customized sales process needed for each sale.
It is easier to build deeper relationships with customers face-to-face. A deeper relationship can mean more inherent trust, a larger deal size, and repeat business.
Outside sales teams deal with more expensive products and services, which can mean more commission per sale and better overall compensation than inside sales reps.
Of course, there are disadvantages for members of an outside sales team too.
Outside sales reps are traveling between potential clients, with time being eaten up by non-selling activities.
Because an outside sales representative is focused on larger products and more complex services, there will be a natural resistance to purchasing.
Multiple stakeholders may need to be convinced, which lengthens the sales cycle and adds more points where the deal could fall apart.
The outside sales model is more expensive for a company due to the additional costs associated with visiting customers.
Inside and outside sales are both effective sales models, and inside and outside sales teams address a company’s specific needs.
The inside sales team members will focus on acquiring new customers through cold calling, emailing, and social media connections from the comfort of an office environment.
Outside sales reps work to qualify and convert leads into high-ticket sales with direct, in-person meetings.
When considering inside sales versus outside sales models, consider factors like:
- Customer contact preferences – Do customers want to be contacted in person?
- Industry standards – Does the product require direct demonstration? What methods are competitors using to sell?
- Inside sales vs. outside sales costs – Outside sales methods are more expensive but can be more effective.