Inside sales and outside sales strategies are blending in today’s world. However, there is a difference between the two sales approaches, and it’s pretty significant.
Understanding inside sales vs outside sales will help you determine which sales role would be best for you, depending on your career goals and selling skills.
This Salesman.org guide will explain what is inside sales and outside sales, as well as highlight the key differences between the two terms from a sales representative’s perspective.
Let’s dive right into the inside sales vs outside sales battle!
What Is Inside Sales?
Inside sales is the process of selling to a customer remotely, where you leverage technology to connect with and communicate with prospects. Instead of face-to-face selling, an inside sales professional uses a phone, email, CRM platform, VoIP, and social media to reach potential customers.
Any sales team can use inside sales, but it’s more suitable for SaaS and tech industries.
What Does an Inside Sales Rep Do?
Inside sales reps guide potential customers through the sales process, helping them find the right product or service that can effectively solve their pain points.
Key responsibilities include:
- Building and nurturing client relationships to win their trust and convert them into paying customers
- Answering customer questions and inquiries to the best of their abilities
- Reporting on relevant sales data
- Closing customer deals
- Meeting their monthly sales quota
Each of the above activities is carried out using different sales tools, depending on the task.
What Is Outside Sales?
Outside sales reps or field sales are selling to a customer in person. Outside sales reps don’t spend much time in the office and travel to hold face-to-face interactions with clients at conferences, trade shows, and industry events.
What Does an Outside Sales Rep Do?
Outside sales reps spend most of their time connecting with prospects and clients and nurturing them into long-term customer relationships. Interestingly, an outside seller also uses the same tools as an inside seller’s. Therefore, you won’t find an “outside sales-only tool” or “inside sales-only tool”—they all come under sales.
If you decide on a career in outside sales, you’ll find yourself selling at conferences, speaking engagements, and industry events. This also gives you the flexibility to manage your schedule and work independently.
Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Understanding the Pros and Cons
Should you become an outside sales rep? Or should you remain in the office and handle inside sales? What are the pros, and what are the cons?
It depends on the sales strategy is that most likely to suit your personality.
The Pros and Cons of Being an Inside Sales Rep
An inside sales rep has a completely different set of daily responsibilities and work-life balance compared to an outside rep. Based on your personal preferences and career goals, you may find some of the typical pros to be cons and vice versa.
Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of being an inside sales rep.
Access to Several Helpful Resources:
An inside sales rep spends the better part of their day in front of a screen, and while they are at it, they can use tons of resources as needed to achieve their sales goals. An outside sales rep doesn’t enjoy this kind of flexibility.
For instance, an inside sales professional can use social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to interact with customers while simultaneously sending cold emails to clients. On the other hand, outside sales are much more challenging, being limited to their smartphones.
Consistent Work Schedule:
If you’re someone who likes a predictable and consistent work schedule, inside sales is perfect for you.
Sales professionals with families and other obligations outside their organization often opt for inside sales roles because of the regular, consistent working hours. However, even individuals that thrive with a daily routine prefer an in-office setup.
Harder to Nurture Customer Relationships:
An inside sales rep will always find it harder to emulate that personalized touch of face-to-face interactions. As such, many inside sales professionals take longer to establish strong customer connections, which, in turn, makes the process of driving a customer through the sales funnel more time-consuming.
Contrarily, outside sales reps interact with their clients daily in person, which helps them win their trust faster and, therefore, close deals more quickly.
Being confined within the walls of your office can get monotonous very fast.
This lack of diversity on a day-to-day basis can lead to feelings of unfulfillment. For example, if you describe yourself as a social person who loves staying outdoors, the job of an inside sales rep will feel tedious to you.
The Pros and Cons of Being an Outside Sales Rep
If you have ever tried juggling multiple in-person sales meetings in the day, you know it’s much more complex than holding virtual meetings.
Outside sales professionals or field sales reps have dynamic schedules, which is less predictable than their inside sales counterparts. As a result, outside sales is more stressful, but the connections made with the client are more robust, and hence, more likely to convert to a real deal—provided you conduct the meeting properly.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of outside sales is the greater flexibility when it comes to deciding your work schedule. Since all sales activity takes place outside of the office, you have more control over your schedule than an inside sales rep.
Emphasis on more.
You see, you need to factor in customer availability when deciding your schedule, so this flexibility still has limitations.
More Traveling Opportunities:
If you love traveling and meeting new people, you’ll enjoy the lifestyle of being an outside sales professional.
You’ll find yourself catching multiple flights and trains and staying away from home for days—sometimes even weeks—at a time. Mind you, this takes a lot of energy.
You’ll find yourself on the go for the better part of the month. If you don’t have the energy and incessant love for traveling, inside sales will be more suited to your preferences.
Lack of a Corporate Setting:
All the flexibility, attending fancy trade shows, traveling to new places, and meeting new people comes at a price… you aren’t a part of a corporate environment.
An outside sales professional misses out on the corporate experience, limiting their chances of securing an in-company promotion. And even if they are being considered for a promotion, it’s likely to involve relocation to a new city—sometimes even a new country.
Restricted Access to Clients:
An outside sales rep can only pitch one client at a time.
On the other hand, an inside salesperson can establish and nurture relationships with people from around the world from their computers. They can connect with hundreds of prospects through email automation and advanced tools that let them manage multiple client relationships simultaneously.
In other words, while an outside sales professional tries to win and close a deal with a prospect over lunch or on a golf course, an efficient inside sales professional could be closing multiple deals without moving from their seats.
Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Which Is Better for You?
It’s impossible to claim inside selling is better than outside selling or vice versa. As mentioned above, each strategy and sales role has its own share of pros and cons.
In the end, it all boils down to your personal preferences, availability and if you specifically prefer the inside sales process.
Sales organizations are despartate for talended salespeople who can improve a sales teams sales performance and they’ll pay you a healthy sales salary, regardless of the specific selling discipline that you join.
Here’s a quick rundown of inside sales vs outside sales to help you decide the best fit for yourself:
Inside sales model
- You have to connect with prospects, leads, and clients using digital tools and channels
- Your primary focus is to acquire more leads
- You get to enjoy a consistent and predictable work schedule, but you’ll be confined to your office walls.
Outside sales model
- You have to travel to different places and attend industry events and speaking engagements to meet prospects and customers face to face.
- Your primary focus is to nurture and convert leads into paying customers.
- You need high energy levels to be constantly on the go, plus genuinely enjoy traveling and meeting new faces in person.
After evaluating the above pointers, think about which role appeals to you the most. What do you consider most important to you in a working environment? Do you thrive on routine? Or do you prefer to be out in the field?
You should have your answer.