Inside vs outside sales: Which is better for your business?

Inside vs outside sales - what are the differences? And which of them is the one better for your business? Let's find out.
Ishwar Singh
Ishwar Singh

Content Marketer

Reading time: 5 minutes

Typically speaking, outside sales tend to have better closing rates. But that’s not to say that inside sales is completely ineffective.

In fact, the adoption of inside sales tactics has risen by 15 times in recent years.

That said, what exactly do inside and outside sales entail? And how do they fare compared to each other?

Let’s dive into the specifics of each approach!


What do inside and outside sales mean?

Inside sales refer to sales done remotely. It’s usually conducted via digital channels like internet phone services, emails, or video calls. This generally results in a shorter sales cycle as a lot of time that would have been spent on traveling is saved.

Outside sales refer to the in-person sales of products and services that are usually customized. Sales activities occur spontaneously at events like conferences, or at planned activities like dinner and golf.

Key differences between inside and outside sales

1. Quantity vs Quality

1) Inside sales

The first one’s pretty obvious. If you can conduct sales remotely, you save lots of travelling time and are more than capable of making a lot more outreach calls.

2) Outside sales

Outside sales reps, however, conduct fewer sales meetings. But each of them are way more valuable.

2. Qualities sales reps should possess

1) Inside sales

Because inside sales is conducted remotely, sales reps have way more time to conduct sales outreach.

This means that if your company relies on outbound cold calling, the rep must be comfortable with making a lot of sales calls every day.

Sales reps conducting inside sales also need to be able to work in fast-paced environments and be able to take hard rejections.

Cold sales calls are notoriously known for being hard. Imagine the number of rejections your sales reps have to receive each day if each one is making 100 calls per day.

And because of the difficulty in closing deals via cold calls, sales reps need to be proactive in following up with your leads.

They also need to be organized in order to keep track of which leads need to be followed up with.

2) Outside sales

Many times, sales reps who conduct outside sales travel to meet key decision-makers. These people have the final say as to whether or not their company should buy from you.

This means that your sales reps need to be sociableeloquent in their speech, and adept at building customer relationships.

And because their work heavily relies on the schedules of their potential customers, outside sales reps need to be able to work independently and manage their own schedules well.

3. Length of sales cycle

1) Inside sales

As i’ve already established, inside sales are conducted remotely. This helps your sales rep save lots of time as they do not need to travel to the various locations to meet with your leads and prospects.

And (as we’ll see later 😉) because many of them rely on automated outbound dialers in order to dial long lists of numbers. The use of automation further speeds up the sales outreach process.

2) Outside sales

A lot of sales interactions occur over coffee, meals, and even golf. These activities themselves take time.

And let’s not forget the amount of time needed to travel to and from the meeting location. Naturally, sales cycles for outside sales are longer.

4. Cost of sale activities

1) Inside sales

For inside sales, a large bulk of the cost are your fixed costs such as employee salary, and monthly outbound dialer subscription cost.

Variable costs typically consists of any commission individual sales reps earn based on their performance.

2) Outside sales

Apart from fixed salary expenses, the company also needs to pay for sales reps’ travel expenses. And if the meeting were to take place at a ‘fancier’ location like a golf course, the company also needs to pay for that. And if there are follow-up meetings, the company needs to pay for those as well.

Generally, outside sales activities can cost a lot more than inside sales depending on the situation.

5. Nature of product or service being sold

1) Inside sales

In general, it’s ok for sales reps to not have to meet their potential customers in real life because there isn’t as much a need for high-levels of trust to be built.

These products and services are basic, not super expensive, and not as customized as high-value products.

An example would be software solutions for small and medium businesses.

2) Outside sales

The great thing about conducting sales in person is that the potential customers can ask as many questions as they want and be answered in real-time. Your sales rep can be equipped with a product brochure to present the idea to your client. This gives a clearer picture of the product or service, and will likely impact their buying behavior.

Meeting prospects and leads face-to-face can build high-levels of trust.

This is especially necessary when selling products or services that are of high value. After all, if you’re going to spend so much money on something, you should be finding out as much as possible about your potential purchase.

Examples of such products and services include enterprise-level software subscriptions, travel packages, and wealth management services.

6. Types of software used

1) Inside Sales

In order to maximize the number of deals closed via sales outreach, inside sales reps simply cannot rely on manual outreach. Automation is a must.

Novocall’s outbound dialer lets you create automated outbound call campaigns to quickly call long lists of numbers.

To automate outbound sales calls, sales reps can utilize outbound dialers like Novocall’s autodialer. With Novocall’s outbound dialer, you can create automated outbound call campaigns and the software will quickly call entire lists of numbers automatically.

Activecampaign allows you to create automated outreach email sequences.

And if you’re using email outreach instead, fret not. Email software like ActiveCampaign allows you to create automated email sequences. With this, you can send out sales outreach emails to large numbers of potential customers at once.

2) Outside Sales

A way to help your outside sales reps manage their sales activities is to assign them specific locations. Diving sales territories into smaller areas can help your outside sales teams cover more ground more effectively. Territory management software Spotio does just that for you.

7. Scalability

1) Inside Sales

Combining the fact that inside sales utilizes automated tools and that it allows sales reps to reach out to more people, inside sales activities is easily the more scalable one of the two.

2) Outside Sales

Outside sales reps, on the other hand, can take up to hours before ending a single sales meeting. And this doesn’t even mean that your reps are successful in closing the deal. Many meetings will also need more follow-ups before a purchase is made.

Inside vs outside sales at a glance

Comparison table of inside vs outside sales

So, is inside or outside sales better?

Choosing the appropriate method of selling is really dependent on so many factors.

You have to consider the size of your business, the nature of the product you’re offering, and your target audience.

Larger companies on the other hand have a lot more to consider. You do not have to limit yourself to either approach. In fact, a mixed approach would be ideal if you have different product lines that are targeted at very different audiences.

Now that you understand how both inside and outside sales compare, you probably see that there is no one size fits all approach.

Regardless, we hope you’ll make an informed decision best for your product and organization 😉

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Ishwar Singh
Ishwar Singh

Ish is a content marketer at Novocall.

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