Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

The demand for inside sales services is booming, especially in the B2B market. Thanks to our growing reliance on the internet and sophisticated sales enablement services, businesses are moving away from a traditional outside sales approach. This has many businesses wondering what the future of their sales team is going to look like. How should they be utilizing inside sales services in their business? When is it appropriate to use outside sales? Check out our predictions for the future of sales and how to leverage both strategies for your business!

First of all, what is “inside sales”?
For decades, businesses have been employing salespeople to conduct face-to-face meetings with prospects to close deals. These individuals spend the majority of their time traveling locally, and in some cases internationally, to meet with their clients. This method has been highly successful, but has also become quite costly, which is why there has been a rise in inside sales. With inside sales, reps spend their time in the office where they are dealing with marketing-qualified leads and gathering data on prospects to customize their communication to them via telephone and email. A common misconception regarding inside sales is that it is essentially telemarketing, but this is not the case! Inside sales reps are not cold-calling or dealing with unqualified leads. Inside sales teams are given leads that are generated through demand gen campaigns, scored and qualified and passed on to them to close!

Most companies agree that human contact and great conversations are necessities when it comes to talking with potential clients. However, the nature of personal interactions has begun to change, and as a result, so has selling. With advances in technology, we now have video conferencing that enables us to communicate virtually, as if we were in person. This has given customers the power to decide when and how they want to interact with sellers. For some this may mean taking a phone call while on-the-go and for others it may mean setting up a face-to-face meeting. Regardless of the medium, buyers have made it clear that they want to meet on their own time, when it’s most convenient for them.

Benefits of Inside Sales
Lower Costs: According to the Harvard Business Review, inside sales costs 40-90% less to bring in new customers than field sales. When traveling to meet customers you have to pay for transportation, meals and sometimes hotels, which can add up quickly! Inside sales eliminates these costs, while still driving the sales your company desires.

Efficient Use of Time: By eliminating travel time and using online technology, inside sales reps are able to reach more customers in a variety of locations, which ultimately results in higher sales and ROI for your business.

Increased Collaboration: Working inside your office with managers and peers has many benefits. Inside sales reps benefit from managerial supervision and an atmosphere of teamwork. In addition to not reaping the benefits of collaboration, outside sales reps often find themselves feeling isolated.

More attention to “lower priority “customers: An outside sales rep might not have time to visit a low-level client, or it might not be cost-effective to do so. Inside sales reps can simply give them a call, meaning businesses can keep a wide range of different clients satisfied.

It is important to realize that outside sales has advantages as well. Many argue that focusing solely on inside sales is not effective because you lose the value of a face-to-face conversation. When you travel to meet a client in person, you are better able to build the customer relationship and trust, show them they are important to you, and most importantly, articulate how important your product is to them. This is why many businesses are integrating both inside and outside techniques into their strategy.

So Which One Should I Use and When?
Some situations are more suited to inside sales than others.  For example, transactional selling can usually be accomplished remotely. While larger, complex deals that involve multiple players, benefit greatly from an in-person meeting. Larger companies can afford to send outside sales reps to their client base they have already built up, but it may be more cost-effective for newer companies to use inside sales to rapidly grow their network.    

Your buyer’s current stage in the sales pipeline also plays a role in deciding which strategy to use. When first interacting with a buyer, reaching out via phone or email can be extremely effective. However, when it comes to closing large deals, face-to-face interactions may be a necessity. Since each strategy has its strengths, it’s important for companies to leverage both in order to achieve success.

Will Outside Sales Disappear?
According to a study from MIT, inside sales is growing at a rate 15 times faster than that of outside sales. While complex products and sales cycles will always need the power of outside sales, many companies are choosing to switch to remote sales when able to. Most businesses seem to agree that face-to-face conversations do add value to a transaction, but is that enough to cover the costs of sending a representative to talk to someone? The huge trend towards insides sales services seems to suggest that, increasingly, the answer to that question is no.

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