Inside Sales vs Outside Sales: Pros & Cons

9 min read

Sales careers are often overshadowed by myths of being a high-risk and overly-competitive career choice; however, many sales reps will tell you that the job offers quite a bit of freedom when it comes to your earnings. Having a base salary and commission means you can give yourself a raise based on your results. In fact, you see the direct fruit of your labor in your commission checks.

There is certainly a healthy amount of competition in any company. Yet, alongside a motivating sales compensation plan, this competition drives the right sales behaviors and pushes sales teams to reach company goals and overachieve.

The strongest sales teams benefit from a good mix of introverted and extroverted reps to connect with their varying customer and prospect personalities. In most companies, an in-house sales team will carry most, if not all, the weight. In other business models, sales are broken into two main categories–inside and outside sales. 

What is Outside Sales?

The term outside sales conveys exactly what it means: to sell outside of the office. Outside sales representatives often travel to meet clients at their location of preference, whether it be at their company conference room or for a lunch meeting. These face-to-face interactions usually involve higher-dollar sales for the employer.

For example, some companies will not consider any significant deal or purchases without meeting and establishing a trusted relationship with a representative in person. In addition, outside sales representatives are often on call to meet the needs of their customers, even outside regular business hours.

From the outside, this may seem like a flexible work structure for outside sales reps to initially reach out, schedule client meetings, and perform product demonstrations to meet their quotas. The true flexibility of the job comes as situations change and meetings are cancelled or delayed.

Managing Outside Sales

Strong leadership and management is important for any sales team. For outside sales, it can be even more important because sales reps are not in the office together as a team. Outside sales managers must establish and maintain contact with their sales reps in periodic round ups and meetings.

These round-ups should be with the sales team as a whole as well as one-on-one meetings with individual reps. They might be a once-per-week activity depending on schedules and whether the outside salesperson even works out of an office location or out of their home, but the most important thing is for managers to meet with reps periodically to relay information from executives and check in on how each rep is doing.

Defining Inside Sales

Although outside sales people usually make more than their inside sales counterparts, the inside sales role is growing 15 times faster than outside sales. The inside sales role is similar to virtual sales. The sales person and prospect rarely meet face-to-face, but rather through a phone call or an online meeting.

Inside sales teams are often considered to be more efficient because sales reps work in the office with everything they need on hand, and managers can easily pull the team together in a meeting. However, the inside sales role has continuously evolved into a more consultative style of selling.

Traditionally, inside sales reps were hired to generate leads for their outside sales counterparts, who would then go on sales calls. Today, there are multiple sales teams and roles that generate leads and actively nurture prospect and customer relationships and close deals.

A Inside Sales Hybrid

There is also a hybrid inside sales structure, where inside sales reps would travel once a quarter to their territories and schedule in-person meetings all week. Yet, with the advent of web conferencing, inside sales reps can easily demonstrate their products and services remotely.

In addition, with the right CRM system, and CRM adoption rates, inside sales reps can respond more quickly to inquiries, post on social media, and host a larger number of virtual meetings in a single day. In this sales strategy, there are no travel costs or potential travel delays, and there is no issue of getting lost on the way to a client site. Reps don’t run the risk of forgetting important documents because they have everything they need in the office.

Inside sales vs. outside sales (Pros and cons)

Both inside and outside sales teams help contribute to the overall success of a company and have their advantages to closing deals. When building your sales team, it’s important for managers to consider the company’s overall sales strategy, and the following pros and cons of each sales team structure are a good start.

Outside Sales Advantages:

  • Travel and associated perks such as mileage
  • Discounted rates at nice hotels and associated rewards cards
  • Higher percentage of earnings come from commission, which makes for the potential of a much higher salary
  • The ability to develop deep relationships at client sites

Outside Sales Disadvantages:

  • Lack of time efficiency due to travel and potential delays
  • Fewer clients want to meet in person
  • Items can get lost in travel
  • Many companies are decreasing their number out outside sales reps and increasing their number of inside sales reps

Inside Sales Pros:

  • More time to schedule virtual meetings
  • Everything they need is at their desk and in their CRM system
  • Can make more phone calls from one place
  • Does not have to deal with the hassles of travel

Inside Sales Cons:

  • Lack of travel abilities
  • Not much leeway for meeting clients in person
  • Can be difficult to pursue Enterprise-level deals over the phone
  • Does not have as much prestige, yet, as the outside sales role

In conclusion

Both outside and inside sales roles are becoming more similar. Ultimately, the right mixture of inside and outside sales reps depends on your company and customers. Clients are growing more familiar with the ease of technology, and as a result, meeting in person is easier for reps because of video conferencing.

Learn more about sales strategy and management by scheduling your personalized strategic services consultation today!