Inside Sales vs Outside Sales: Can Inside Sales Replace Outside Sales?

by | Feb 13, 2017

Inside sales vs outside sales: Can inside salespeople replace your outside salespeople?  Sales is changing, undoubtedly.  Thought leaders like Justin Roff-Marsh assert that field sales is dead. Watch the webinar now.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

There are so many things to be said on the merits of inside sales vs outside sales. Both sides of the isle offers valid arguments to support their positions. However, it cannot be denied that so much of what outside salespeople do is limited by travel time and costs. Inside salespeople can clearly make more calls at less cost.

Changes in buyer behavior and information availability have opened the door to this sort of restructure of the sales function.  It’s a shift that’s happening with growing momentum.

Inside salespeople have the ability to leverage sales and marketing automation technology much more readily.  Whenever a large brand visits the website, sales can be alerted in realtime. Coupled with LinkedIn and other data sources, identifying key decision makers can be done within a few minutes. Moreover, the CRM can automate email campaigns on the fly. This engages leads even further. In this manner, almost everyone inside the potential sales pool are warm leads generated by the CRM.

This is in stark contrast to outside salespeople managers who are happy to get a few notes into their CRM software every week if any at all.

Are there elements of selling face to face that cannot be replaced? Probably. However we are over estimating its importance due to the long history of outside sales being the whale hunters.  Face to face meetings offer the ability to empathize with customers nearly impossible to duplicate online. But, at what cost?

In this fascinating webinar, Justin argues that a large portion of “sales” manpower can be moved inside while a smaller contingent can be assigned for on-site visits. There’s no doubt that this type of shift carries with it tremendous efficiencies.

Justin Roff-Marsh Video Thumbnail

Inside Sales Growth

To have a clear picture of how the market is responding to the question of inside sales vs outside sales, you only need to look at the trends. It is already unfolding.  Witness the people contacting your business to sell you something.  The only brands still growing their outside sales efforts are huge consumer brands like Comcast and ADT, residential and commercial real estate related services or businesses selling extremely expensive (>$100k) products and services.

Whether you believe outside salespeople are a thing of the past or not, is irrelevant. They are not as crucial as they used to be.  Sales teams can cultivate their in-office teams while supporting their outside team.

Managing Inside Salespeople

So what are the considerations in choosing inside sales vs outside sales?

Managing inside sales people is unique and demands focus on skill sets that are not as crucial to an outside sales team.  Managers must adopt new metrics and tactics to be successful.

Of course, inside salespeople have to work harder to engage and truly connect with prospects due to the lack of physical proximity.  But, beyond that, inside sales managers must develop strategies to teach, measure and reinforce other skills such as:

  • Understanding the customer organization takes a more concerted, structured approach when you can’t look around the office and chat up the receptionist.
  • Digging deeply into what’s really motivating customers takes more focus and better questions when you can’t rely on body language to tell you if you’re getting the “real story”.
  • Face to face, your eyes can convey empathy.  On the phone, it takes practice to say “I care” with words with out sounding creepy.
  • Gathering, documenting, managing and leveraging information in your CRM and Marketing Automation solution is key to success.

Salespeople can overcome many of the challenges of connecting with customers without a face to face meeting by focusing on a few “soft skills”.  Opening up communication, expressing empathy can be enhanced with focus on simple things like verbal compliments.  Doubling down on organization and automation, the inside sales efficiencies can be mitigated if not eliminated.

To learn more about how to enhance and manage inside salespeople’s soft skills and maximize their productivity, read Inside-Out Selling.