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Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales - Differences

8 Key Differences Between Inside and Outside Sales

Last Updated on February 16, 2021

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales - Differences

Whether you are establishing your sales career path or you’re a manager creating a job profile, it is extremely important to understand the differences between an inside and outside sales job.

Understanding the key differences will help you determine which position fits your needs or strengths.

Also, it should not be assumed that since someone has a background in sales that they can do both inside and outside sales. Knowing what separates these sales careers is critical to finding the right fit.

Here’s a basic breakdown outlining key differences for inside sales vs. outside sales.

1. Personnel Costs

An inside sales professional generally works from contacts supplied by the company and establishes relationships with clients virtually. That is, using the phone, email, social media, and online meetings. So costs tend to be lower.

An outside sales professional generally commands a higher base salary, requires an extensive travel budget and normally maintains their own customer base that they take when they leave the company.

2. Customer Acquisition

Inside sales associates tend to develop more customers because they talk to many more people in the course of a day. They deal in quantity.

Outside sales professionals typically spend a great deal of their time traveling to visit prospects and customers, which decreases the number of paying customers an outside representative can acquire. They focus on quality.

3. Types Of Products

Inside sales organizations generally deal in smaller scale products that their customer base is very familiar with. For example, inside sales groups can sell anything from sunglasses to personal computers to more basic b2b services.

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Outside sales groups generally deal with larger products that have a longer sales cycle and that require more on-site consulting and demonstrations. For example, outside sales professionals might deal in large computer networks or modern passenger jets.

4. Group Interaction

Since inside sales is done from a static desk using phone and email, inside sales teams tend to work together more often and sales managers have more opportunities to train their sales associates.

Outside sales professionals generally operate on their own, even if they are part of a sales group. The group dynamic is not nearly as important or prevalent in outside sales.

5. Types Of Employers

Because outside sales generally deal in larger products with more selling expenses and longer sales cycles, this form of sales is more common with larger corporate entities.

Inside sales, with its cost-efficient sales methods, is more common with small and medium size businesses.

6. Closing Deals

Inside sales groups generally rely on the quality of their presentations to close sales, and typically close deals faster.

Outside sales organizations normally require in-person product demonstrations and strong client relationships to close sales. Therefore sales cycles are significantly longer.

7. Structure

Outside sales professionals are sometimes part of a sales team, but they normally work on their own and often do not see their co-workers for days or weeks.

Inside sales groups are generally put together in an office or remote setting and have close access to resources such as sales literature, product engineers and sales managers.

8. Job Prospects

The reduced cost and convenience of inside sales makes it an attractive option compared to outside sales. So too does technology which can facilitate some face-to-face meetings and demonstrations without the need for an in-person meeting.

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To that end, it is estimated that the field of inside sales is growing at a rate that is 15 times faster than outside sales.

Wrapping Up The Differences Between Inside And Outside Sales

Inside and outside sales jobs are very different in approach and outlook. While the field of inside sales is growing, companies are actively looking for ways to reduce the need for outside reps. To summarize, the biggest differences between inside and outside sales are:

  • Personnel costs
  • Customer acquisition technique and quantity
  • The types of products sold
  • Interaction between members of each type of sales team
  • The types of companies that use inside and outside sales
  • What it takes to close a deal
  • Structure within each type of sales group
  • Job prospects for the future