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Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales – What’s the Difference?

Inside and outside sales both play an important role in the business world. One of the biggest decisions you can make when building a sales team is whether to utilize the internal or external sales model.

Discover the key differences between inside sales and outside sales, and how to allocate resources to each within your business.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

Both inside and outside sales employees are vital when it comes to building a sales team for your company. Some organizations run their field sales operations on one sales model or the other, while others opt for a more blended approach and achieve great results.

The biggest difference between inside and outside sales is location. Inside sales takes place in-house while outside sales are done remotely. For those of you learning how to become a sales consultant, knowing about inside and outside sales will improve your effectiveness.

Hiring the right reps is crucial when it comes to maximizing your leverage during the sale. Some buyers prefer inside sales reps while others enjoy interacting with outside sales reps. Therefore, it’s important to know your customers and take their buying preferences into consideration.

Before you make your decision, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of both positions.

“In March 2020 when the pandemic hit and everything changed overnight, we all had to learn how to sell differently, whether you were an inside or outside salesperson,” said Merit Kahn, CEO of SELLect Sales Development and co-host of The Smarter Sales Show podcast. “We all had to discover new ways to connect with people and the lines between inside and outside sales were somewhat blurred. That’s important because as you distinguish the type of sales department that works for your business, you have to take into consideration how the marketplace has changed.”

What Is Inside Sales?

difference between inside and outside sales

Inside sales occur when employees report daily to the office on a set schedule and make sales pitches to their leads over the phone, via web based virtual demos, CRM platforms, and more. Of the 5.7 million professional salespeople in the US, 43.5% are inside sales professionals.

Inside sales is sometimes confused with telemarketing. While inside sales reps might use campaign-specific talking points, they don’t always rely on full sales scripts. Inside sales representatives are frequently trained extensively on a sales process and what they’re selling, which can rarely be said for telemarketers.

What Do Inside Sales Reps Do?

If you prefer working a set number of hours per day behind a desk, inside sales rep is the job for you. These employees work remotely with potential buyers, guiding them through the sales process and ensuring they find an adequate product or service that helps the customer solve their problem.

Responsibilities of an inside sales representative consist of:

  • Understanding customers’ needs and identifying sales opportunities
  • Connecting with potential customers via phone, email, and virtual meetings
  • Using excellent oral communication to build relationships with clients and establish rapport
  • Demonstrating knowledge by verbally explaining the features of products and services
  • Closing deals, processing payments, and scheduling follow-ups
  • Achieving monthly sales quotas

What Is Outside Sales?

what is the difference between inside and outside sales

Outside sales occur when salespeople travel to meet with clients in person and make their pitch. This form of sales uses face-to-face communication for a more personal experience with the customer. Some products and services benefit from a physically present representative, making an outside salesperson perfect for the job.

What Do Outside Sales Reps Do?

Since outside sales reps travel to clientele to sell them a product or service, they are responsible for managing their own time. This position is a good fit for those who are self-starters and prefer to work independently.

Here are some key responsibilities of outside sales reps:

  • Traveling to conduct face-to-face meetings with existing and potential clients
  • Attending trade shows, conferences, and industry events to accumulate new leads
  • Building relationships with clients and prospects
  • Implementing new and effective strategies to drive sales and establish relevance in the industry
  • Developing leads and referrals
  • Working independently to multitask, prioritize, and manage time efficiently

Inside Versus Outside Sales Balance in Organizations

Small and large companies alike believe their workforces should be more balanced, the ideal ratio of inside to outside sales being 50/50.

As of 2017, US companies’ sales teams on average consisted of 43.5% inside and 56.5% outside sales reps, and these numbers are moving even closer to equilibrium.

Top reasons organizations are shifting to inside sales models:

  • Increase productivity
  • Support outside sales
  • Improve account coverage
  • Increase ability to reach sales targets
  • Reduce cost
  • Shorten sales cycle

Inside vs. Outside Sales Salary Ranges

On-target-earnings (OTE) is an indicator of expected earnings and helps ensure inside sales reps earn relatively close to the same amount as outside sales.

The current base salary for inside sales account executives is $42,833 with an average OTE of $96,299.

When it comes to inside sales vs outside sales compensation, outside sales reps seem to come out on top. On average, inside sales reps’ base salary is 37.5% of OTE, while outside sales reps’ salary is approximately 46.7% of OTE.

Outside sales reps tend to make a higher salary of the two since they command higher base salaries. Field reps also travel a lot, which is factored into their pay.

SELLect Sales Has Online Training Solutions to Amplify Your Sales Results

So, which is better for your company: inside or outside sales?

It all comes down to the style of your business and your employees. Some salespeople perform better face-to-face and are more persuasive with body language and eye-contact. Others may be more skilled at pitching to customers via the phone or online.

Not sure which sales model is best for your company? SELLect Sales provides in-depth sales training and development for companies focused on creating exceptional sales performance and building superior sales organizations. We offer sales assessments to gauge the standing of your current process, and can supplement your weak areas with valuable online sales training modules.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your sales team evolve!

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