When it comes to selling, inside sales and outside sales are the two primary approaches businesses use within their organization because each has strengths and weaknesses.
While the ultimate goal of both is to drive revenue and secure new clients, the strategies, dynamics, and environments in which they operate are distinct.
Inside sales leverage virtual communication and targeted marketing campaigns to engage with customers who have been attracted to the sales team.
Outside sales happen most often in the field, with reps forging face-to-face connections and building relationships with customers who may not have ever heard of the business’s offering.
Both methods can be used effectively.
Watch: What is the Difference Between Inside and Outside Sales
Outside sales could also be referred to as infield sales, where your salespeople will go out and reach the customers.
A lot of times they might be traveling distances to really have that face-to-face connection. And then after deals are closed, typically these salespeople will continually maintain those relationships, knowing that other sales could be coming down the road later.
Some companies will even consider telesales as a form of outside sales, where they see that their salespeople are going out and reaching customers, but just doing it through the phones.
Now, this differs slightly from inside sales in that inside sales typically will have several different marketing and advertising campaigns that hopefully compel customers to come to them and engage with them and ask those companies those buying questions.
Inside sales is often performed with some type of cybercommunication. So phones have typically have been the way that inside salespeople connect with consumers. But now with technology advancing the way it has, oftentimes, they might use email or even web conferencing to better connect with their potential clients.
Inside Sales Examples
Inside sales representatives schedule calls with potential customers who have landed on their radar thanks to marketing and advertising. During these calls, products or services are discussed in detail and sales agreements are negotiated.
Inside sales teams develop and execute targeted email campaigns to engage with new, cold, or sticky leads in an effort to move them down the sales funnel. They may also use email to follow up with existing prospects to see if they are ready to buy, upgrade, or buy again.
Web-Based Demos and Presentations
Inside sales reps use screen sharing and virtual meeting platforms to deliver product demonstrations and presentations to prospects, highlighting key features, benefits, and value propositions.
Online Chat Support
Inside sales professionals may provide real-time assistance to website visitors and potential customers through live chat, answering questions, resolving concerns, and guiding them through the sales process.
Social Media Engagement
Social media platforms can be leveraged by inside sales teams to connect with interested or engaged prospects who have moved down the marketing funnel and are ready to talk to sales.
Outside Sales Examples
In general, outside sales representatives meet with clients and prospects at their offices, homes, or other designated locations to discuss products or services. Interactions may be planned or unsolicited, depending on the circumstances and type of product or service being sold.
Trade Shows and Conferences
Outside sales teams attend industry-specific events, trade shows, and conferences to showcase products, generate leads, network with potential clients, and stay updated on industry trends. Some shows are used primarily for selling on-the-spot while others are used for marketing.
Outside sales representatives go door-to-door in residential or business areas to introduce products or services, engage with potential customers, and secure sales opportunities. This is the tried-and-true classic of outside sales, proving to be incredibly effective for many industries.
Territory management is a part of outside sales, where reps are responsible for managing specific geographical territories, developing relationships with locals, and identifying sales opportunities within their assigned areas.
Site Visits and Inspections
Outside sales reps may visit client locations to assess requirements, conduct site inspections, and provide customized recommendations. This may be a result of a third-party contract or may be undertaken as prep work in order to approach a prospect with an increased chance of success.
Which is Better: Outside Sales vs Inside Sales
The choice between inside sales and outside sales depends on the nature of the business, target audience, industry dynamics, and specific sales objectives. Many organizations adopt a hybrid model, combining elements of both approaches to maximize their sales effectiveness.
Why to Use Inside Sales
Inside sales generally requires fewer resources and expenses compared to outside sales. There are no travel costs or the need for physical infrastructure, making it a more cost-effective option for businesses.
Inside sales can be easily scaled and expanded by adding more sales representatives and leveraging technology, allowing for broader reach and efficient handling of a larger customer base.
Data and Analytics
Inside sales provides ample opportunities for data collection and analysis, allowing for better tracking of metrics, customer behavior, and performance evaluation.
Why to Use Outside Sales
Outside sales provides the opportunity for face-to-face interactions, which can foster stronger relationships, trust, and personalized customer experiences. It is particularly valuable for industries where personal connections and rapport are critical.
Complex Sales Cycles
Outside sales is often preferred for high-value or complex sales cycles that require detailed presentations, demonstrations, or consultations that are best conducted in person.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Outside sales professionals can adapt their sales approach in real-time based on the client’s reactions, body language, and immediate feedback, allowing for greater flexibility and customization.
Outside vs Inside Sales: Who Wins?
At the end of the day, some businesses may benefit from the cost-effectiveness and scalability of inside sales, while others may prioritize the personal connections and adaptability of outside sales. Organizations may find success by adopting a hybrid approach that combines the strengths of both methods. Understanding the unique characteristics, benefits, and challenges of inside sales and outside sales is crucial for businesses seeking to optimize their salesforce and adapt to the evolving sales landscape.