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Inside Sales Vs. Outside Sales: What’s the Difference?

Inside Sales Vs. Outside Sales: What’s the Difference?


Inside sales happen when sales reps sell products or services remotely to clients. 

These remote communication channels can include the following outlets: 

  • Phone calls 
  • Emails 
  • Video conferencing (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) 
  • Messaging 
  • Social media 

Inside sales are also called virtual sales because agents never actually meet with prospects face to face. 

Of course, this has advantages and disadvantages (which I’ll cover later). 

From an employee’s perspective, one of the best parts of being an inside sales rep is that you can work from home! 

What do Inside Sales Reps Do?

Inside sales reps are primarily responsible for identifying potential clients, contacting them via remote channels, and persuading them to purchase products or services! 

Inside sales teams have various tasks, including the following: 

  • Conducting market research
  • Handling inbound sales queries
  • Presenting and demonstrating products or services 
  • Closing sales deals over the phone or through online platforms

On top of that, these sales professionals nurture long-term relationships with customers to encourage repeat business.

Benefits of Inside Sales

There are three main advantages of having inside sales teams, including the following: 

  • They don’t cost as much as outside sales teams 
  • They’re more scalable than outside sales strategies 
  • They offer more time for other tasks 

Ensure you know these benefits when comparing inside sales vs outside sales!

Lower Cost Than Outside Sales 

Inside sales teams tend to be less expensive than outside ones primarily due to reduced overhead costs. 

For instance, inside sales reps eliminate the need for the following costs: 

  • Travel expenses
  • Meal allowances 
  • Client entertainment budgets 

While these expenses are crucial for outside sales representatives (because they have face-to-face interactions), inside teams don’t need them! 

As a result, an inside sales strategy is a more cost-effective solution for small businesses.

More Scalable Than Outside Sales 

Inside sales strategies are more scalable than their outside counterparts due to the extensive use of digital technology and automated systems. 

Today’s technology allows businesses to reach a more significant number of prospects in various geographic locations simultaneously.

By reaching more clients, it provides greater capacity for growth without the need for significant increases in resources or staff!

More Time for Ancillary Tasks 

Being virtually based, inside sales teams have more flexibility because they are not tied to travel schedules or onsite meetings. 

Having more flexibility allows an inside sales team to have more time to invest in ancillary tasks, including:  

  • Customer database updating
  • Market analysis 
  • Strategizing for customer engagement

Inside Sales: Duties & Responsibilities

When comparing inside and outside sales, it’s crucial to understand the duties and responsibilities of each position. 

Below are the three primary responsibilities of inside sales reps!

  • Prospecting and Client Acquisition: Inside sales reps actively seek new clients by conducting market research and using inbound and outbound sales strategies. 
  • Product Presentation and Sales Closure: Reps must demonstrate their products’ or services’ features and benefits to customers through online platforms. They use their sales and persuasion skills to convince prospects to purchase.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Inside sales reps must maintain strong customer relationships after-sales. They follow up with clients to ensure satisfaction and resolve any issues.

Inside Sales Skillsets

Here’s what an inside sales team must be able to do if they want to be successful!

Resilience to “No”

Inside sales reps must be resilient to hearing potential clients say “no” because rejection is common in the sales landscape! 

Therefore, maintaining a positive attitude, learning from the experience, and persisting in their efforts can be the key to achieving long-term success.

Negotiation Skills

Inside sales reps must have negotiation skills as they talk about the following details with potential customers: 

  • Pricing
  • Delivery dates 
  • Other contract terms 

Further, these negotiation skills allow members of an inside sales team to secure the most favorable terms for their company!

At the same time, excellent negotiation skills can do the following things:  

  • Ensure customer satisfaction
  • Drive successful deals 
  • Build long-term, profitable relationships

Customer Service Skills 

Inside sales agents need strong customer service skills because they are directly involved in the following things: 

  • Resolving clients’ issues
  • Handling inquiries 
  • Providing product support

These details are integral to building and maintaining long-term, satisfying customer relationships! 

Product Knowledge 

An inside sales representative MUST have extensive product knowledge.

When agents understand what the company sells, it equips them with the ability to do the following things: 

  • Convincingly articulate the benefits and features of their product or service.
  • Answer customer inquiries accurately 
  • Address potential objections
  • Enhances their persuasiveness  
  • Increase the likelihood of sales success

Teamwork Skills

Lastly, inside sales team members must possess teamwork skills because they often work closely with various departments. 

When working with other departments, ensuring a unified approach to customer satisfaction and effectively meeting sales targets is crucial! 

Inside Sales Models

Here are the steps to (most) successful inside sales processes!

Prospecting 

Prospecting is identifying and reaching out to potential customers, known as prospects. 

The goal of prospecting is to convert them into paying customers. 

Further, prospecting involves various strategies, such as: 

  • Market research
  • Cold-calling
  • Email outreach 
  • Leveraging social media platforms

Inside sales professionals use prospecting to identify and engage with potential leads! 

Qualifying 

Qualifying is the step where the inside sales rep assesses the potential of prospects to convert into a customer. 

Qualifying leads is based on specific criteria, including:  

  • The lead’s need for the product
  • The prospect’s ability to afford the product or service
  • The lead’s decision-making power

Lead qualifying is an essential part of the sales process designed to help reps spend time on leads most likely to convert.

As a result, qualifying leads increase efficiency and productivity.

Presenting 

Product presentations are comprehensive demonstrations of the following aspects of a product:

  • Features
  • Benefits 
  • Potential applications

Typically, an inside sales rep does product demonstrations to persuade potential customers to make a purchase! 

Closing 

Closing is the final step in the sales process, where the sales agent finalizes the transaction. 

Also, closing a deal solidifies the customer’s commitment to purchase the product or service! 

Follow Up 

Follow-ups are integral to long-term success as they foster strong customer relationships and provide opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. 

Also, following up ensures the following things:  

  • Better customer satisfaction rates 
  • Prompt, timely resolution of issues that may otherwise go unnoticed 
  • Reinforcing your brand’s value
  • More customer loyalty and repeat business

Inside Sales Example

Here’s a fictional example of inside sales to help you better understand how this sales process works! 

Consider a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company selling project management tools. 

An inside sales agent from the company identifies potential leads in small businesses through LinkedIn. 

Then, they email the potential client, introducing their product and scheduling a demonstration. 

During the demonstration, conducted through a video conferencing platform, the sales rep highlights the software’s features and benefits tailored to the client’s business needs. 

After that, the rep negotiates the pricing and closes the deal online. 

Post-sale, the rep maintains regular contact with the client to ensure the following things: 

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Address any issues 
  • Explore opportunities for upselling or cross-selling other tools from their company’s portfolio.


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