Since the advent of the internet, sales professionals have had to weigh the pros and cons of inside sales vs outside sales. The winner? Both.

Up until the 1970s, sales was done almost exclusively face-to-face. Then came telemarketers, the first real “inside sales” job, which became a major player in sales for many years leading up to the internet. Now, in an age that thrives on technology, inside sales has seen a dramatic increase, leading many to weigh the benefits of inside sales vs outside sales. And while the former has seen the larger increase over the years, it’s unlikely that the latter is going anywhere anytime soon.

inside sales vs outside sales

Inside sales vs outside sales: What’s the difference?

Outside sales, or the traditional sales model, is the practice of meeting with clients face-to-face, usually at their work sites, to sell goods or services. Inside sales, on the other hand, relies on telephone and internet communication to do the same thing.

For example, a salesperson whose business is copy machines will likely go in-person, business to business, to find out what kind of machine the prospect already has and to then outline the benefits of the machine for rent or sale. This is outside sales.

Now if someone is selling CRM software to a prospect in another state, they might communicate through e-mail or telephone, and will likely hold online conferences to share presentations and go through a sales pitch. This is an example of remote inside sales.


lead-managerlead-managerHaving difficulty tracking those inside sales? Schedule a free demo and to see how we can help you keep in touch with all your prospects.


inside sales vs outside sales

Inside skills vs outside skills

Each type of sales includes its own set of skills, some of which overlap, some of which don’t.

Inside sales, for example, requires administrative skills, a good grasp of technology, thorough understanding of the product, and the ability to prove ROI without necessarily having an objective analysis to demonstrate. (The copy machine salesperson can demonstrate savings based on energy, ink, and paper usage, while the software salesperson can only show hypothetical ROI, which has to then be convincing.)

Outside sales requires extensive travel, keeping samples and studies organized and updated, and putting on a positive demeanor even on your worst days.

When comparing skills between inside sales vs outside sales, it’s a little like apples to oranges. Some will find inside sales much easier while others will gravitate more towards outside sales. The reality, though, is that the comparison is becoming more about inside sales and outside sales rather than inside sales vs outside sales.

inside sales vs outside sales

Working in tandem

A few years ago, the President, Founder, and Chief Strategy Officer of InsideSales.com, Ken Krogue, cited research stating that outside sales reps were spending 50% of their time selling remotely, and that number had been steadily growing over the years. With the ongoing development of internet technology, it’s logical to assume this figure continues to climb.

Why the increase in inside sales vs outside sales? Because the reality is that the two methods are gradually becoming one. Both businesses and consumers are less likely to entertain a door-to-door salesperson than they are to respond to an e-mail or even a phone call, which means outside salespeople need to spend more time in an office reaching out to prospects. At the same time, even inside sales reps have to go out into the field to meet with clients to establish a relationship and build trust.

inside sales vs outside sales

Using both to your advantage

So instead of inside sales vs outside sales, we end up with what you might call hybrid sales. This is a good thing for parties on both sides. The inside sales portion will help sales reps stay organized and attentive to prospects, while also allowing them to reach two or even three times as many people since they don’t have to travel every day. (Not to mention they can reach prospects in far away places through online meetings and other web-related outreach and collaboration.)

At the same time, the outside portion forces the inside reps out of the comfort of the office and into the more nuanced world of face-to-face selling. This means stronger relationships, better marketability for products, and ultimately, more closes.

And closing is what it’s all about. Inside sales vs outside sales isn’t a contest, rather, it’s a marriage of two styles, one traditional, and one that’s just recently come into its own. Together, they give salespeople more tools than they’ve ever had before, which provides a firmer and wider foundation for all sales reps to grow customer bases and of course, revenue.


lead-managerlead-managerHaving difficulty tracking those inside sales? Schedule a free demo and to see how we can help you keep in touch with all your prospects.


Do you have experience with inside and outside sales? How do you see the two working together or apart? Share your thoughts in the comments below.