What Is Inside Sales?

Retail| Sales

Inside Sales is “remote sales,” most lately called “virtual sales,” or professional sales did remotely. Where Outside Sales or traditional Field Sales is done face-to-face.

Taken in this context, the majority of all sales is done remotely, and the numbers are growing. A recent study states that  Inside Sales is growing at a fifteen times higher rate (7.5% versus .5% annually) over Outside Sales, to the tune of 800,000 new jobs. If you don’t believe it, grab a list of 10 traditional or “Outside Sales” people and call them. 7 out of 10 will be sitting in front of their computer, working in their cubicle, office, or home office—just like the Inside Salespeople.

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The term “Inside Sales” originally came about in the late 1980s as an attempt to differentiate “Telemarketing” (or “Telesales in the UK) from the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices.

Companies found Inside Sales to be undeniably effective but often didn’t know what to do to solve the conflict between the younger, disruptive, more technically savvy upstarts who sold over the phone, and their more senior counterparts who wielded incredible political power in their organizations as the entrenched source of revenue for nearly a century.

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For years Inside Sales has been relegated to generating leads for the more senior Outside Sales reps or merely closing the smaller accounts. This is now no longer the case. Many companies are already using a hybrid form of Inside Sales, with reps calling from their company’s home office, then travelling occasionally to client locations and merely calling it “sales.” Research shows that three years ago Outside Sales reps spent 41% of their day selling remotely, last year it rose to 46%.

Another way of defining “Inside Sales” is to also state what it is not.

"Inside Sales is not Telemarketing."

Inside Sales is NOT Telemarketing. Telemarketing is a scripted, single-call-close, almost always targeting a small-ticket, business to consumer (B2C) model. Inside Sales is not scripted. It requires multiple calls or “touches” to create a sales close, involves medium or large ticket goods and services, and targets business-to-business (B2B) or high-end business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions.

Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely or virtually. It is not the mindless “phone drone” that calls at dinner time and won’t hang up until you have said “no” seven times.

Inside Sales is also not Customer Service. Though Inside Sales frequently involves an element of inbound call handling like a customer service department, in its pure form it is not customer service.

Some companies erroneously describe their inbound call centres as “inside sales,” but this does not fall within the boundaries of our definition unless the agents’ primary function is selling. 

Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely. . . it is remote sales.


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