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.
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.
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.
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