What is inside sales? Learn how we define inside sales and where the term comes from. In this post, we also share how inside sales can create an impact on businesses and how you can utilize it for your organization. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
- What Is Inside Sales?
- How the Term “Inside Sales” Was Created
- Inside Sales to Generate Leads
- The Impact of Behind the Cloud Book on Salesforce.com
- Another Description of Inside Sales
- Similarities Between Inside Sales and Outside Sales
- The Benefits of Inside Sales
- The Challenges of Inside Sale
- Are Inside Sales Solutions Right for Your Business?
- Should Companies Use Inside Sales Software?
- Top 20 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com
What Is Inside Sales? | Inside Sales Definition and Its History
What Is Inside Sales?
The most pragmatic definition of inside sales is simple:
It is “remote sales,” most recently called “virtual sales,” or professional sales done remotely. In contrast, a sales rep will define “outside sales” or traditional field sales through face-to-face interactions.
Taken in this context, the majority of all sales is done remotely, and the numbers are growing. In fact, there is evidence to show this.
A study done by SKKU and MIT, in conjunction with infoUSA, found that remote sales have been growing at a rate fifteen times higher (7.5% versus .5% annually) than outside sales. This has been going on for over the last three years, to the tune of 800,000 new remote sales jobs.
More evidence: if you don’t believe it, grab a list of 10 traditional or “outside sales” people and call them. Seven out of 10 will be sitting in front of their computer, working in their cubicle, office, or home office – just like the remote sales professionals.
How the Term “Inside Sales” Was Created
The term “inside sales” originally came about in the late 1980s. It is an attempt to differentiate “telemarketing” (or “telesales” in the UK) from the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices.
Telemarketing is often believed to have begun in the 1950s by DialAmerica Marketing, Inc. DialAmerica Marketing Inc. appears to be the first company dedicated to telephone sales and services.
By the 1970s, telemarketing was a common phrase used to describe the process of selling over the telephone.
It often included both outbound and inbound, but later became much more synonymous with the types of the outbound calling we’re all familiar with. Large-scale “blasts” to lists of names to try and drum up quick sales, usually while the family is sitting around the dinner table.
By the late 1990s/early 2000s, “remote sales” was the term used to differentiate the practice from outside sales. Outside sales is the traditional face-to-face sales model where salespeople go to the client’s location of the business to engage in the sales process.
Inside Sales to Generate Leads
Companies found the new channel of Inside Sales to be undeniably useful. However, they often didn’t know what to do to solve the conflict between the old and the new.
There’s the younger, disruptive, more technically savvy upstarts who sold over the phone. Then, there are the senior counterparts who wielded incredible political power in their organizations as the entrenched source of revenue for nearly a century.
For years, remote sales have been relegated to generating leads for the more senior outside sales reps, or merely closing the smaller accounts. This is now no longer the case.
Many companies are already using a hybrid form of remote sales. Actually, sales professionals are now calling from their company’s home office, and then traveling occasionally to client locations and merely calling it “sales.”
The Impact of Behind the Cloud Book on Salesforce.com
By Marc Benioff’s own admission in his book “Behind the Cloud,” Salesforce.com “grew their company for the first five or six years with a telesales or remote sales model.” They added outside sales, or field sales, to go upmarket when they wanted to sell to enterprise-class companies.
With that said, though, the company still does a majority of its sales work remotely.
Another Description of Inside Sales
Another way of defining “inside sales” is to also state what it is not. Remote sales is not telemarketing.
Let me repeat: Inside sales is NOT telemarketing. Telemarketing is a scripted, single-call-close, almost always targeting a small-ticket, B2C model.
- Remote sales is not scripted. It requires multiple calls or “touches” to create a sales close, involves medium or large ticket goods and services, and targets B2B or high-end B2C transactions.
- This marketing strategy is professional sales done remotely. It is not the mindless “phone drone” that calls at dinner time and won’t hang up until you have said “no” seven times.
- It is also not customer service. Although remote sales frequently involves an element of inbound call handling like a customer service department, in its pure form, it is not customer service.
Some companies erroneously describe their inbound call centers as “inside sales.” However, this does not fall within the boundaries of our definition unless the agents’ primary function is selling.
Similarities Between Inside Sales and Outside Sales
Although inside sales and outside sales seem to be two different factions in sales, they do share some similarities between them.
1. They Both Require a Working Knowledge of Your Products and Services
No sales method can help you if you don’t know what you’re selling in the first place. To be able to thrive in both, make sure you’re always updated.
2. Listening Skills Are Crucial
For both inside sales and outside sales, you need to have a conversation with your prospect.
With that said, you need to have excellent skill for listening. Otherwise, you will lose your prospect’s interest.
3. Using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Both of these can benefit from CRM integration in their respective sales process, albeit in various ways.
Inside sales reps would use a lot of the communication features available for CRM. On the other hand, outside sales reps would need certain CRM features that would help them do presentations more conveniently while on the road.
The Benefits of Inside Sales
Here are some of the benefits that inside sales offers for the organizations and reps:
- Reps can work flexible hours to adapt to client schedules
- Better revenue forecasting
- Flexibility to quickly change the sales team size to adapt to changes in business strategies
- Increased sales productivity without traveling for business meetings
- Since travel time is cut out of the equation, better productivity since there’ll be more time to perform sales activities like calling and selling
- Better data and analytics so salespeople can better understand the market
- Convenience and efficiency in product demonstration, not just over the phone, but also through web conferencing
- Improved customer experience as digital, online, or social media marketing that are preferable to customers or potential buyers
- More effective lead generation method for the modern consumer
The Challenges of Inside Sales
Although inside sales is reinventing how sales is being done, it still comes with its own set of challenges.
1. It Can be Challenging to Build Customer Trust and Relationships
Although there are many benefits to this sales strategy, there are also challenges that come with remote sales. One major problem is that reps can experience difficulty in developing customer trust and relationships.
Although many clients prefer communicating online for convenience, it’s still different than actually meeting the rep face-to-face. Physical interaction and conversations with the clients go a long way in making it easier to build customer trust and loyalty.
2. Finding and Developing Talents
Another challenge for remote sales, just like outside sales or any type of sales, is finding and developing talents. Companies may have high standards in recruiting an inside sales representative, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.
High standards don’t mean that those who meet the requirements can successfully bring good returns or conversion rates to the company. Training people is still essential in developing talents and so they understand exactly what the company goals are.
Aside from that, finding and developing talent can be costly, too. Once you hire people, you should invest in the training program to prepare them for the job.
3. Standing Out From the Rest of the Competition
Inside sales reps have the added challenge of having more competition when it comes to the attention of their prospects. Unlike field sales reps, they don’t have the chance to have a one-on-one with their prospects right away.
Since the sales model of Inside Sales is more accessible, it is also more crowded. Thus, it’s much harder to find a way to make potential customers choose you over others.
4. Getting More High-Quality Inbound Leads
Another challenge is that with inside sales, it’s much harder to ensure you have a high-quality lead. Although it’s not wholly impossible, it’s still quite a hurdle.
To be able to overcome this challenge, cooperation is essential.
The sales teams and marketing teams must be consistent and connected to one another. This collaboration is vital to make sure a potential customer is a qualified lead.
5. Effective Use of Technology for Managing Customer Relationship
Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon for sales teams to use CRM software for their inside sales needs. However, it doesn’t ensure success immediately.
In fact, it’s another hurdle that the team must overcome.
If not everyone is on the same page in terms of how to use the software, the results won’t be as successful. Therefore, it’s important to train everyone on the team.
On that note, you can let your IT team help with the training of your sales team. Do this regularly so that everyone is up-to-date on the software changes.
Are Inside Sales Solutions Right for Your Business?
While remote sales may have clear benefits on reaching company goals, focusing on remote sales alone to increase sales may not be the right idea. Remote sales may be productive and provide high ROIs, but it still has to go back to what your company goals and your products and services are.
- Some enterprise sales with high costs may require outside sales to complete the selling process.
- Businesses may use remote sales to consult the market of what their interests are, so companies can evaluate how they can go about in their sales.
When they have gathered enough data and have analyzed this information, they can start adding outside sales marketing to make selling more effective. They can also use it to build customer trust and a good brand image.
The bottom line is this: use remote sales as a stepping stone to increase sales and effectively promote revenue growth.
Should Companies Use Inside Sales Software?
Using remote sales software also provide advantages to businesses in the sales cycle through its capabilities, such as:
- Social listening
- Coaching and training
- Appointment setting
- Content engagement
- Email templates and tracking
- Data quality
- Predictive analytics
- Contact sourcing
Aside from making the sales process easier, faster, and more efficient for reps, this technology can also aid businesses in monitoring the performance of their sales reps. These can provide metrics to help sales leaders see what’s working and what needs improvement when it comes to team management.
If these advantages and capabilities sound useful for your business goals, then investing in remote sales software is a good option. This can help you eliminate questions about a variety of things.
How many demos sales reps should perform to customers? How often should they talk and have face time with customers?
How many calls and visits do sales reps need to make, what are the communication skills of the sales reps, and others.
Top 20 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com
Here is the list of the top 20 articles on www.KenKrogue.com with a total number of views:
- What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales | Ken Krogue – 56,369 Views
- Inside Sales Best Practices – 9,281 Views
- Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue – 5,488 Views
- KPI – Key Performance Indicators – 2,285 Views
- Inside Sales versus Outside Sales – 2,226 Views
- Is Leaving a Voicemail Worthwhile? – 2,100 Views
- 6 Reasons Salesforce Users Need Hosted Dialer Technology – 856 Views
- Behind the Cloud – Ken’s Notes – 877 Views
- Inside Sales Tips – No Vacations Last Week of the Month – 1,140 Views
- Funny Inside Sales Videos – 290 Views
- Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 1,392 Views
- Demand Generation Tactics and Strategy – 689 Views
- Inside Sales Tips – Interest is The Counterfeit of Need – 898 Views
- Inside Sales is Top Method of Lead Generation – 1,074 Views
- Inside Sales Training – 1,888 Views
- Inside Sales Tips – How LinkedIn Gives you 3 Free SEO Backlinks – 3,057 Views
- Inside Sales Tips – Specialize – 998 Views
- Marketing B2B 4 Quick Email Tips – 168 Views
- Leadscon East Vendors Need to Drink their Own Medicine – 137 Views
- What is Lead Response Management – 573 Views
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
Inside sales is not telemarketing, and involves different forms of sales activities that target increased lead generation and sales acceleration.
The key to using this strategy effectively is to understand what it is. Aside from that, it’s also crucial to know how and when to utilize it in the sales process.
Watch the animated video below to know Inside Sales better:
How was your experience with remote sales? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 30, 2010, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.