9 min read

Inside vs. Outside Sales: Structuring a Sales Team

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Structuring Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales Teams

Did you know that 52.8% of salespeople in the United States make up outside sales teams? According to the 2019 study, the remaining percentage can be accounted for inside sales. But what exactly is the difference between the two? 

Inside Sales

Outside Sales

Inside sales is the process of selling to customers remotely via email, phone calls, and other digital methods of communication.

Outside sales, also called field sales, is the process of selling to customers face-to-face (through office visits and events like trade shows and conferences).

 

These two methods of sales are often conflated, although many companies choose to separate the two into individual sales teams. While they both require effective sales professionals with great communication skills, there are key differences between each type of sales role. 

In this article, we’ll cover the most important details of each (role responsibilities, how inside sales vs. outside sales teams are structured, and more!). 

 

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What is Inside Sales?

Inside sales is the process of selling to customers remotely via email, phone calls, and other digital methods of communication. 

 

Key Responsibilities

Inside sales teams are tasked with nurturing leads and closing sales remotely. This involves reaching out to new customers, answering questions about the product or service, and converting and closing deals without any face-to-face interaction. 

 

Essential Roles

An inside sales team often includes at least four people with specialized roles (on larger teams, there’s more than one person doing each role). 

  • A sales development representative is responsible for new leads. They search online for potential clients and vet them before they move to the next phase of the sales funnel.
  • An account executive takes over the relationship with a potential new customer once the sales development representative has vetted them. The account executive closes the deal and then helps manage the relationship alongside the account manager.
  • An account manager manages relationships with existing customers. They are often the point of contact for several customers (also called accounts) and may oversee account executives.
  • A customer success manager is responsible for the customer’s experience with your product or service. They answer questions, train customers on how to use new products, troubleshoot problems, and provide support when needed. 

Inside Sales Rep Skills

Inside salespeople must be comfortable using technology on a daily basis. Much of their role requires cold calling new customers and connecting with existing customers via social media (LinkedIn is common for lead generation), video conferencing platforms (like Zoom), and other online tools. 

More than being able to use technology, inside sales representatives need to be able to effectively communicate a variety of messages and close remote sales. They aren’t able to have face-to-face interactions, but still need to close deals in a timely manner over the phone or by email. 

They must also be productive in a remote working environment. Most inside sales reps work from home or in coworking spaces and are often tasked with a high volume of leads per month.  

 

Sales Model

The inside sales model involves having sales reps reach out to a high volume of potential customers remotely. To support the high volume of inbound leads, inside sales teams often use sales cadence tools or other automation tools to manage customer communications as they move through the buying journey. 

The inside sales process typically takes less time than outside sales and can more easily be scaled up or down since reps work remotely.

 

What is Outside Sales?

Outside sales, also called field sales, is the process of selling to customers in-person (through office visits and events like trade shows and conferences).

 

Key Responsibilities

Outside sales professionals are responsible for selling to customers at events, trade shows, conferences, and visits to customers’ offices. This does involve some remote communication (to schedule appointments or answer questions), but is largely reliant on long-term, in-person relationships. 

 

Essential Roles

Outside sales team organization varies by company, largely based on the size of the company and locations of customers. However, sales reps are often grouped by sales territories (groups of customers), rather than by a specialized skill or phase in the sales process the way an inside sales team is. 

  • A field sales rep (also called an outside salesperson) is responsible for traveling to see customers and going to events. They are responsible for prospecting, closing deals, and managing the relationship long-term. Since these reps manage so much of the sales process, they are often able to form deeper connections with decision-makers than inside sales reps but sell to fewer customers overall.
  • A sales manager manages a group of field sales representatives. Managers often oversee regions or large groups of customers. For example, a sales manager may be responsible for the southwest region of the United States. To do so, they may manage three sales reps that have specific territories within their region. Sales managers attend important customer meetings and report sales results to leadership.
  • Sales support staff helps the sales team throughout the sales process. They help process orders, troubleshoot problems, and provide product images and specifications to sales reps when needed.

 

Outside Sales Rep Skills

Outside reps must have great in-person sales skills. They are responsible for closing deals, demoing products, and answering questions in person. Sales reps often manage several customers over long time periods, so it’s important that they get to know their customers and develop trust. In order to do this to the best of their ability, they must be great relationship builders. 

Other than having proficient sales skills, outside sales reps must be comfortable working inconsistent schedules. Their workload ebbs and flows depending on face-to-face meetings and events, so some weeks may require more travel or long hours. This makes it imperative that outside sales reps are good at managing their own schedules.

 

Sales Model

The outside sales model involves hiring field sales reps to travel and meet with customers repeatedly, over long periods of time. The outside sales cycle takes longer than the inside sales model and is often used for higher-value products, services, and customers.

 

Manage Your Sales Team with Koncert

Both inside and outside sales representatives are effective at communicating with customers and closing deals. Inside sales teams can contact many leads from a flexible, remote work environment. Outside sales teams make in-person connections with customers, represent your company at industry events, and demo products. 

Use this table as a guide to see how else the two methods differ:

 

Inside Sales

Outside Sales

Definition

Inside sales is the process of selling to customers remotely via email, phone calls, and other digital methods of communication. 

Outside sales, also called field sales, is the process of selling to customers in-person (through office visits and events like trade shows and conferences).

Key Responsibilities

  • Reach out to a high volume of leads
  • Manage all digital communications with customers
  • Remote selling
  • Meet sales quotas
  • Attend in-person meetings and events
  • Demo products
  • Maintain in-person relationships with customers
  • In-person selling
  • Meet sales quotas

Essential Roles

  • Sales development representative
  • Account executive
  • Account manager
  • Customer success manager
  • Field sales representative
  • Sales manager
  • Sales support

Sales Rep Skills

  • Comfortable using technology
  • Able to communicate effectively and sell via digital methods
  • Productive while working remote
  • Able to travel and maintain a flexible schedule
  • Communicate and form relationships in person
  • Demo products

Sales Model

  • Shorter sales cycle
  • More customers per sales rep
  • Greater ability to reach out to leads, but close a smaller percentage of those deals
  • Easy to scale
  • Remote
  • Long term sales cycle and customer relationships
  • Fewer customers per sales rep, but may have closer relationships and a higher closing rate
  • More difficult to scale
  • Requires travel

 

Koncert is uniquely positioned to support your sales strategy, whether you use an inside or outside sales approach. Our sales enablement tools help your sales force work more effectively and take some of the administrative tasks off of their hands. 

For example, we help inside reps meet their outreach sales goals with Koncert Dialers. Koncert Dialers boosts the number of sales calls to qualified leads and increases sales productivity by up to 800%. 

For outside sales teams, consider Koncert Integrations. This software connects to your CRM system, gives visibility to your performance, and scrubs data all in the effort of helping your sales team spend as much time with customers as they’d like. 

To see how Koncert can improve your sales efficiency, review the sales tools we offer.  

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