SalesWhat is Inside Sales? Here’s everything you need to know

July 1, 2021
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As technology continues to evolve, the way in which we communicate and sell to one another is also rapidly changing.

On one hand, the devices and software we use in our day-to-day lives are becoming more robust, relying on audio and video more than ever before. At the same time, this new technology allows us to connect quicker and more conveniently. It has completely changed the way businesses are able to manage their operations, including sales. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely from home became the new norm for many salespeople.

Looking at the bigger picture, inside sales have only continued to gain ground in the world of B2B and B2C sales as companies look for more dynamic, cost-effective ways to reach prospects and close deals.

You may still be wondering “what exactly is inside sales?” Here’s everything you need to know. We’ll be answering the most commonly asked questions on what inside sales means, how it compares to outside sales, what is expected of an inside sales rep, and more.

What does inside sales mean?

… and where did the term come from?

At its most basic, the term inside sales is used to describe a remote method of selling goods and services, whether that’s between two companies or a company and an individual. The term is specifically used to differentiate this practice from outside sales.

Inside sales is an evolution of the concept of telemarketing which emerged during the latter half of the 20th century. Instead of exclusively focusing on sales made over the phone, inside sales throws a much wider net. It incorporates just about every technological method of communication.

However, when we think about inside sales, there are three main channels currently in use including emails, phone calls, and social media, with LinkedIn being the primary social platform for B2B.

Again, the simplest way to describe inside sales is as a remote method of selling.

What is inside sales vs outside sales?

There are some key differences between inside sales and outside sales.

At a glance, these are fairly easy to identify. Where inside sales reps use remote methods of selling over the phone, via email, or through other channels, outside sales reps meet with prospects in person, face to face.

Naturally, outside sales is seen as a more traditional way of pitching to clients and closing deals. However, with technology having rapidly evolved over the years, there’s a growing demand for more virtual means of communication.

On one hand, it is more cost effective for sales companies to operate from within an office (or working from home).

More importantly, remote sales creates convenience for buyers, whether they are an individual or a company decision maker. Instead of being required to buy products and services in person, they can do so by visiting a website, picking up a phone, or sending an email.

That doesn’t mean outside sales are less effective. Although they require appointment bookings, a physical presence, and travel costs, there’s an inherent value to pitching in person.

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Although inside and outside sales reps have different techniques and practices, the two roles continue to converge. We are starting to see companies shift more towards a hybrid model of juggling inside and outside sales, as well as companies fully transitioning to inside sales. However, outside sales are still used to reach out and close deals with larger clients. Also, smaller companies that have relied entirely on inside sales may eventually want to incorporate outside sales into their strategy as they grow.

What does an inside sales person do?

The job of an inside sales person is to sell products and services remotely to customers, whether they are a business or an individual. It is their role to seek new clients, understand customer needs, and make effective sales pitches.

When researching more about an inside sales role you may have come across the terms “inbound” and “outbound”. These describe two different approaches to inside sales:

As the name suggests, inbound sales refers to sales made via incoming calls, typically from prospects who know your company.

Meanwhile, outbound sales requires reps to seek out new customers who may not be aware of your company and their offering. Outbound sales rely on leveraging mailing lists and directories, as well as other ways of identifying and pursuing new clients.

Whether inbound or outbound, researching accounts is an essential part of being an inside sales rep. To maximize your effectiveness you need to understand the customer’s BuyerDNA before making contact, also identifying their needs before carrying out a competitive analysis.

Inside sales reps don’t just send one email or make one phone call. You will be required to follow up customers, whether they’ve responded to your touches or not. You will create a touch pattern designed to engage prospects based on your research – if successful, this will lead to a sales conversation before closing a deal.

Building a rapport is another vital role of inside sales reps. Prospects respond better to personalized messaging and genuine human interaction, even if the sales pitch is happening remotely.

From there, it’s important to manage and strengthen relationships to retain clients and generate additional sales.

When it comes to actually making those connections, prepare to pitch the benefits of your offering, actively listen, and respond to questions. As an extension, prepare to book future appointments, give demonstrations, and negotiate the terms of sale.

What is the average salary for an inside sales person?

On average, full-time inside sales reps can expect to earn a base annual salary of $49,929 in the United States according to the latest figures from Indeed. In addition, inside sales reps make an additional $10,438 a year in commission.

As with any role, salary is dependent on factors such as experience and education with variations depending on a company’s location and industry.

Is inside sales just cold calling?

While cold calling is one of the outbound tasks you will perform regularly, it’s just one of the ways inside sales reps communicate with prospects.

As we’ve already discussed, inside sales is an evolution of telephone sales that incorporates every remote sales channel including phone calls, email, and social media.

You will also take part in video conferences and demo products and services. Inside sales is a much more involved and dynamic practice than simply picking up the phone and rattling through numbers in a directory.

What skills are required for inside sales?

Research

You will need to gather a wealth of information on clients and their business using directories, search engines, and through networking. More importantly, you will need to analyse this data to help engineer your messaging and touch patterns.

Organization

Time management is crucial to becoming an effective sales rep, as is making sure you are logging appointments and any relevant information in the CRM.

Confidence

When making calls to new customers and negotiating deals, you need to be confident in your ability to communicate clearly and confidently, demonstrating your understanding of customer pain points and how your company can help them. Confidence comes more naturally to some though can be trained over time – it is essential in being able to persuade customers into making a purchase.

IT Skills

Inside sales reps are required to work with various management systems and software as well as various communication tools. The best sales reps will be constantly looking for new technologies to help them improve efficiency and better engage prospects.

Tips on being a successful inside sales rep

Inside sales reps should always be looking to develop and learn to help them thrive in their career. Even if you excel in all four of the required skills listed above, there are plenty of techniques you can adopt to help improve your performance. These will help supercharge the number of successful sales conversations you make.

One essential tip is knowing what you’re actually selling. Use every resource to learn about your company, the products and services they are selling, and the business challenges they are helping to solve. The more in-depth knowledge you have, the better equipped you’ll be at pitching to prospects as well as answering any technical questions they might have. Reinforce this by carrying out a competitor analysis and creating a BuyerDNA™️ profile for your buyers.

Remember that engaging with inbound and outbound prospects requires a different approach. Inbound leads will already be aware of your company so it’s vital that you present the value of your products and services in relation to their identified pain points. Don’t immediately try to close a sale – build a rapport and be proactive in helping to talk through the solution you are offering.

When it comes to outbound sales, accept the fact that prospects have become hardened to cold calls and emails. When attempting to engage with prospects, be creative in both your messaging and the channels you use to connect with them. Inject character, personalize your communications, and employ a multi-touch strategy.

We’re only just scratching the surface. Our experts at InsideOut have put together a comprehensive list of 15 actionable inside sales tips. From essential techniques every sales rep needs to hear, to pointers on improving your inbound and outbound methods, we’ll help evolve your inside sales strategies.

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Let’s recap

What inside sales? Inside sales is the practice of selling remotely, mainly using phone, email, and social networks.

What is inside sales vs outside sales? Where inside sales can be done from an office or working from home, outside sales requires traveling to meet clients.

What does an inside sales person do? Inside sales reps will research and identify customer needs, make sales calls, and seek new clients.

Is inside sales just cold calling? No. Instead of selling exclusively via phone calls, inside sales encompasses email, online, and other platforms to understand customer needs, pitch, and close deals.

What is the average salary for an inside sales rep? The latest figures estimate that sales reps earn an average of $49,929 a year as well as $10,438 annual commission.

What skills are required for inside sales? You will learn the processes of being a sales rep on the job though key skills to have include organization, time management, confidence in communicating, and familiarity with computer software.

Looking to leverage to power of inside sales for your business? 

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