Defining what is inside sales and what is outside sales
Sales are an indispensable part of every company’s life, as they generate profit and, well, sell a product or service. Marketing specialists usually separate the entireness of sales into two directions: inside and outside.
Inside sales are the ones that are made without face-to-face interaction with a customer. Differently, outside sales definition is as follows: it’s those sales where there is a face-to-face contact to sell.
However, these two notions are blending in the latest years, especially being significantly spurred up by the processes of building up a remote work in the lives of so many companies around the world due to the COVID pandemics. In the 2000s and 2010s, the ratio between the two was close to 50/50 on average in the US (something like 43/57 in 2016-2018). There were around 1% of yearly shifts, adding to the inside sales thanks to a bigger number of employed IT tools of remote sales. In addition to phones, there were more employed visual presentations using communicative tools like Skype, social media, voice mail & email. But even in the outside sales, an increasingly bigger number of sales closures was made through the same remote channels, preserving a face-to-face contact only as one of the steps of the entire sale process.
Inside sales VS outside sales: discrepancies explained
The application of an exact model of sales in your company will depend on the chosen business model, the character of your product or service, and the average size of each deal. To avoid speaking blurry, we’re giving specific examples of what is outside sales and what is inside sales (and when both are the best).
Outside sales are best when:
- You sell large and complex products and services with recurring payments and the need to attract consultants or engineers of a seller to use them
- The products are expensive and usually involve the agreement of their purchase on many levels (which is standard for B2B sales and in some chunk of B2C sales)
- A product solves a complicated need
- A product might not be sold per se but require extra adjustments or changes before being sold to a particular client (life a complex IT software, for instance)
- You have over 100 salespeople in your team and/or you build long-term relations with your clients.
Inside sales are best when:
- You sell small, inexpensive products, which a consumer can buy on their own without the need to contact a sales representative
- The sold products are not complicated, which do not require extensive consultations before their purchase and during consumption or exploitation
- Your product solves a small, immediate problem and can be of a one-time or short-time use
- The sales can be organized online so the sales processes can be highly automated and standard
- The purchase is convenient and does not require signing a contract or agreeing on a budget
- You do not build relations with your clients and your sales team is small.
What the numbers tell?
Outside sales are much better closed during a personal contact, which might even require several points of contact with a client and the presence of a physical office to generate sales. Outside sales have on average 130% bigger budget of deals than inside sales have. Outside sales close 30% more sales in numbers despite better indices in inside sales (40% more contacts, 10% more voice mails, or 50% more social media touches).
On one hand, inside sales teams have about 10% better quota attainment but the outside sales teams have about 30% bigger quota established initially. On another hand, outside salespeople require a 36% bigger salary but make only 9% higher on-target earnings than inside sales representatives.
So, outside sales versus inside sales – what is better to choose? How to organize your business depends on the preferences of your clients. Only they can tell you, will your sales department be able to close deals over a phone or email, what those deals are, how frequently you sell, what’s your product nature, and so on. Also, one should rely upon internal reporting of your company to find out the product-generated revenue and what is a client lifetime in your company to help you choose a correct model.