What is Inside Sales? Definition and Examples.

Lidia Vijga

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“Working from the comfort of your home, high earning potential, and no travel required.” This may sound like a dream job description, but it’s the reality for many inside sales professionals. Inside sales offers the flexibility to work remotely while leveraging technology to connect with prospective buyers and drive revenue. This article will walk through what inside sales is, how it differs from outside sales, the skills required to succeed, and the tools leveraged in this sales model.

Inside sales is the dominant sales model in B2B. The inside sales model doesn’t require in-person interaction between the buyers and inside sales reps. Rapid advancements in virtual sales technologies have made it easier for inside sales representatives to connect with potential clients anytime anywhere. Many sales teams that previously only did outside sales have either completely switched to inside sales or gone hybrid.

According to Gartner, by 2025, 80% of all B2B sales will take place online.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about inside sales, sales responsibilities, and the sales skills you need to succeed as an inside sales rep. And why most sales organizations need to consider creating an inside sales department.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Inside sales are done remotely or virtually from the office environment or home by inside sales representatives.
  • To sell products and services remotely, inside sales professionals use live video calls, asynchronous videos, social media channels and social selling tools, phone calls, and emails.
  • Successful inside sales team consists of Business development representatives (BDRs), Sales development representatives (SDRs), Account executives (AEs), and Customer success managers (CSMs).
  • Inside sales and outside sales can be equally challenging and rewarding. It is recommended for sales reps to try both to identify the one that they find more enjoyable.
  • To succeed as an inside sales representative you need to have the following skills: problem-solving, tech skills, communication, and storytelling skills, be great at building relationships, and know how to manage time well.
  • Contrary to popular belief, introverts are one of the best inside sales reps out there.
  • Flexibility, the ability to travel to trade shows and conferences, and great career growth opportunities are one of the main reasons why you should consider taking an inside sales representative job.
  • The inside sales strategy is cost-effective, easy to scale, encourages collaboration, and provides access to a larger pool of potential customers that prefer to do business remotely.

What is inside sales?

Inside sales definition

Inside sales refers to sales conducted remotely or virtually by inside sales representatives. The job of inside sales professionals requires them to engage potential customers and sell products or services remotely via live video calls, asynchronous videos, social media and social selling tools, phone calls and emails.

An inside sales team typically consists of:

  • Business development representative (BDR) – BDRs do cold outreach prospecting.
  • Sales development representative (SDR) – SDRs focus on inbound leads and inbound sales.
  • Account executive (AE) – AEs close deals.
  • Customer success manager (CSM) – CSMs provide close support to clients.
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What's the difference between Inside Sales vs Telemarketing?

Inside sales representative cold calling a potential customer

Inside sales models should not be confused with telemarketing. Both roles require strong communication and negotiation skills, but there are some key differences between the inside sales representatives and telemarketers. Even though some inside sales representatives just like telemarketers use the phone quite extensively to reach potential customers, their roles, goals, methods, and the products and services they usually sell are very different.

Inside sales reps vs Telemarketers

Telemarketers work from a call center, make a high volume of calls, and use scripts to pitch and sell B2C products or services on a single call. Inside sales reps work in an office, typically sell B2B products and services, and use a variety of methods and tools to reach and build relationships with potential clients.

What's the difference between Inside Sales vs Outside Sales (Field Sales)?

Inside and Outside sales

Inside sales representatives sell products and services virtually or remotely from an office environment via live video calls, asynchronous videos, social media channels, phone calls, and emails. Outside sales reps sell at face-to-face meetings, conferences, and industry events.

There are a few key advantages and disadvantages to inside and outside sales strategies.

The inside sales strategies are generally more cost-effective since inside sales don’t require the company to pay for travel expenses. It also allows for a greater volume of interactions, since the inside sales rep can connect with more potential clients in a day than they could meet with people in person.

However, inside sales can sometimes be less effective in certain old-fashioned industries where customers prefer in person meetings.

The outside sales strategies, on the other hand, can be more expensive, time-consuming, and more difficult to scale. However, they can also be more effective since oftentimes outside sales allow sales reps to connect with potential clients outside of busy office environment.

At the end of the day, the best sales strategy depends on the products and services being sold and the target market. In many industries, it is beneficial to have both an outside sales team and an inside sales team.

To learn more about outside sales be sure to read our article on outside sales.

Which is harder inside sales or outside sales?

Inside sales reps vs outside sales reps

There’s no easy answer when it comes to determining whether inside or outside sales is harder. Both types of sales processes have their unique challenges, and there is no clear consensus on which one is harder.

For example, inside sales representatives typically have to make a large number of cold calls or cold emails, often to people who are not interested in what they are selling. Inside sales professionals also have to be tech-savvy and can learn and adapt to new remote sales technologies quickly.

In contrast, outside sales reps spend a lot of time outside and often have to deal with bad weather, long commute times, and challenging customer interactions. In addition, both types of sales require a high degree of skill, dedication, and thick skin to handle rejections.

At the end of the day, the answer to the question of which type of sales process is harder depends on the individual sales rep. Some sales reps thrive in the fast-paced sales tech-driven environment of inside sales, while others prefer the more personal interactions of outside sales.

Ultimately, sales performance and the amount of effort required to succeed in either type of sales position will vary depending on the individual sales rep’s skillset and work ethic. What one sales rep finds easy, another may find challenging. The best way to determine whether inside or outside sales is right for you is to experiment with both and see which environment you thrive in.

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If you’re finding it difficult to get in touch with potential customers or establish a personal connection remotely, DeckLinks might be the solution you need. With DeckLinks, inside and outside sales representatives can connect with prospects and clients at any stage of the sales process by recording and sharing video-narrated PDF presentations. You can watch some examples of what Video PDFs look like here.

Is inside sales a stressful job?

Inside sales representative under stress

So how stressful is inside sales? Inside sales is a fast-paced and dynamic job that can be both rewarding and stressful. On any given day, you may be making cold calls and sending cold emails or video emails, reporting to your inside sales manager, following up on leads, and working hard to meet ever-increasing sales quotas.

While the income potential is high, the pressure to perform can also be intense. Very often, inside sales typically require long hours, which can lead to burnout. Inside sales reps are the ones who do cold outreach, day in and day out. They’re the ones who have to deal with rejection, again and again.

However, many people find the challenge of inside sales to be exhilarating and enjoy the fast-paced environment. In addition, many companies offer great incentives and bonuses for meeting sales quotas and goals, which can help to reduce stress levels. If you are considering a career in inside sales, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully to see if it is the right fit for you. Just be aware that working in an inside sales team is not for everyone. But if you think you can handle the challenge, remote sales can be a very rewarding experience.

Learn more about video emails, use cases and tips on how to send them to get the best results.

What skills do you need for inside sales?

Inside sales team discussing sales strategy

Inside sales representatives play an important role in any company that relies on direct sales to generate revenue or ARR. As the direct link between the customer and the product, inside sales professionals are responsible for generating interest, building relationships, and closing deals. To be successful in this role, inside sales representatives need to have a wide range of both hard and soft sales skills.

Some examples of hard sales skills include an understanding of the product, the ability to negotiate, and the determination to close deals. Soft sales skills, on the other hand, involve communication, active listening, and empathy.

These are the top 5 skills you will need to succeed in inside sales:

1. Problem-solving skills.

Most inside salespeople will tell you that one of the most important inside sales skills you can have is the ability to solve problems. After all, the best way to sell a product is to understand the client’s pain points and provide a solution. To be successful, you need to be able to understand the client’s problem from every angle and come up with creative solutions. This can sometimes mean going outside the box and thinking outside the traditional sales script. So if you’re good at problem-solving, an inside sales career may be just for you!

2. Tech skills.

Inside sales representatives must be tech-savvy to be successful in today’s remote sales environment. They need to be able to use a wide range of remote sales tools, including customer relationship management – CRM software, sales enablement, and sales engagement tools. Inside sales reps also need to be comfortable on video using social selling tools, video conferencing, async video, and other digital communication tools.

Custom branding
Showcase your brand.
Video narrations
Easily video-narrate sales presentations or proposals when needed (otherwise video is optional). Redo slide if you made a mistake. Use built-in teleprompter to record longer videos.

Data rooms
Attach any supporting files and links. Make it easy for your prospects and clients to find the right information quickly.

Company profiles
Create company profiles with custom banners and info-packages tailored to different industries.
Contact details
Show your contact info easily accessible by your prospects and clients.
Custom CTAs
Add custom CTAs to drive prospects or clients to your calendar, sign up form, etc.
Engagement analytics
See how prospects and clients interact with your PDFs.

Feedback and Reactions
Collect feedback from prospects and clients. Feedback and reactions are not publicly visible.
Share PDFs
Share any existing PDF presentations and documents.
Live links
Share with a single link. Update files even after sharing your link. Get notified when your PDF is viewed. Turn off access anytime.

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3. Communication and storytelling skills.

Communication skills, both written and verbal, are critical to be successful in inside sales. Whether you are dealing with clients over email or via video, being able to effectively communicate is essential to build relationships with clients and move them through the sales cycle efficiently. Inside sales representatives need to be able to clearly and concisely explain the features and benefits of their products or services, as well as address any sales objections that customers may have.

The best way to engage potential customers is through storytelling. By weaving a tale that captures the attention of the listener, inside sales professionals can create an emotional connection with potential clients.

Stories that include relatable real-life examples are very effective in helping prospects see how a product or service could improve their specific situation. When you put facts, data, and examples into the context of a story, it’s more likely that your prospect will remember what you said.

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4. Relationship-building skills.

Many inside sales representatives find that building relationships with potential clients is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. It can be difficult to establish trust and credibility with someone who has never met you in person, and it can be even harder to keep them engaged on a phone or video call.

However, there are a few ways to overcome these challenges and build strong relationships with inside sales clients. First, it’s important for inside sales reps to be authentic and transparent in all interactions. Second, inside sales representatives should focus on providing value rather than trying to sell a product. Third, inside sales reps should follow up after every interaction, whether it’s a positive or negative result. The client might not have an immediate need for your services, but that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future or that they can’t introduce you to someone who does.

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5. Time-management skills.

It is easy to get swamped as an inside sales rep. With the constant influx of new leads, inside sales reps need to be able to prioritize their time to efficiently follow up with each one. Inside sales professionals also need to be able to manage their time to make the most out of each customer interaction.

For example, a typical day for an inside sales representative might involve making cold calls, sending emails, conducting research, recording async videos, and doing video calls with clients. As such, inside sales representatives must be able to prioritize their tasks and use their time efficiently to hit their sales quotas and targets.

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Can introverts be good at inside sales?

Can introverts be great inside sales professionals

Surprisingly, they can! Society has a preconceived notion of what an ideal sales rep looks like: someone who is extroverted, good at charming customers, and can sell anything to anyone. The stereotype of an energetic sales rep does not appeal to customers, who often tune out when they meet such sales professionals.

Introverts are often misunderstood. People assume that because introverts are quiet and prefer to spend time alone, they must be shy or aloof. However, this is not necessarily the case. Many introverts are actually very outgoing and personable, they just prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings to large parties. This preference for one-on-one interactions can actually be a strength in inside sales.

Charming your potential clients can only take you so far. Inside sales require the ability to build relationships with clients by helping them solve their problems. Because introverts are typically good listeners, and very good at research and analysis, they often excel in inside sales. In fact, many of the best inside salespeople are introverts. So if you’re considering a career in inside sales, don’t let your introverted personality hold you back!

3 reasons to consider inside sales positions

Contrary to popular belief, inside sales is not specific to B2B sales. Many B2C companies use inside sales these days. So if you’re not a big fan of B2B products and services there are many opportunities to get an inside sales representative job at a B2C company.

Here are the 3 reasons why you should consider inside sales positions:

1. Flexibility.

Inside sales representatives generally have more control over their own schedules than outside sales reps. This is because inside sales reps work in an office environment or from home and are not required to travel to meet with clients every day. As a result, inside sales professionals have more flexibility when it comes to structuring their day and sales process. In addition, inside sales reps can usually take advantage of breaks in the day to catch up on administrative tasks or research potential leads.

2. You get to travel.

Inside sales representatives often have the opportunity to travel to trade shows, client meetings, and other events. This can be a great way to see new places and meet new people. Unlike the outside sales process, the inside sales process does not revolve around constant travel which can be very exhausting.

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3. Career growth opportunities.

Inside sales reps have clear career growth opportunities. Most inside sales professionals start in entry-level positions and quickly develop the sales skills and knowledge needed to move up in the company. With hard work and dedication, inside sales representatives can eventually become managers or move into leadership roles within their company or start their own inside sales consulting businesses. The sky is the limit for inside sales professionals who are motivated to succeed!

What are the benefits of inside sales?

Inside sales team benefits

There are many reasons why every business needs inside sales team. With fast advancements in remote sales technologies, inside sales became an extremely efficient and effective way to scale sales operations and accelerate growth.

Here’re the Top 5 main benefits of inside sales:

1. The inside sales approach is more cost-effective.

Today, businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to optimize and increase the efficiency of their Sales Operations (SalesOps) and Revenue Operations (RevOps). This is especially true for those companies that don’t sell high ticket items or ACV (Annual Contract Value). For the vast majority of companies, inside sales are more cost-effective than outside sales.

According to Harvard Business Review, inside sales reduces cost-of-sales by 40-90% relative to outside sales.

Inside sales reps can reach more people in a shorter time. With modern virtual sales technology, they can make far more calls, and send far more emails and video sales letters than outside sales reps who experience a lot of downtime commuting to their prospects and clients. Because they’re not splitting their time between traveling and selling, they can devote all their energy to generating sales opportunities and closing deals.

Moreover, inside sales representatives don’t need to pay for travel or expensive entertaining expenses. All they need is a good set of virtual selling tools and a comfortable place to work.

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2. Inside sales make it easier to scale the sales team.

Inside sales can be beneficial for companies that are looking to scale their sales team quickly and efficiently. Inside sales representatives can be located anywhere in the world, which gives companies a wider pool of talent to choose from. When a company is relying on outside sales, it can be difficult to add new sales reps without also increasing overhead costs. However, inside sales professionals can be added with minimal additional overhead, making it much easier to grow the sales team, especially if the inside sales team is not working in an office environment.

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3. The inside sales process encourages collaboration.

The inside sales process makes it easier to collaborate within an organization using modern collaborative sales tools. By bringing together sales, marketing, and customer success teams, inside sales foster communication and alignment between departments. By encouraging open dialogue and sharing best practices, inside sales promote a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

4. Inside sales teams can connect with a larger pool of potential customers.

Inside sales teams have a distinct advantage over outside sales teams when it comes to accessing potential customers. With the right sales engagement and sales enablement tools, the inside sales team can sell to customers anywhere in the world with relative ease. Inside sales are not limited by geographical boundaries. As a result, the inside sales team can have a much larger pool of potential customers to draw from than traditional outside sales teams. This gives the inside sales team a significant advantage in terms of generating new sales opportunities and closing deals.

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5. Many customers prefer doing business remotely.

Now, more than ever, customers prefer to do business remotely, through phone calls, video conferences, or async video. This is a huge benefit for inside sales teams, who are already used to working remotely and dealing with customers in this way. The recent shift to remote work has forced companies to adapt and inside sales teams are well-positioned to take advantage of this new remote work environment.

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Inside sales representative salary

The median base salary of inside sales representatives is $60,000 per year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest-earning inside sales professionals specialize in high-technology industries and typically have a bachelor’s degree or college diploma in related fields. These inside sales reps typically make over $100,000 per year.

Inside sales representatives typically receive a base salary plus commissions and bonuses based on their performance. Inside sales reps who work in big cities earn a higher median base salary on average compared to sales reps working in smaller towns. Pay for inside sales jobs can differ a lot, based on the base salary, commission structure, inside sales incentive plan, skills, and commitment of the sales rep.

The following table displays the median base salary of sales representatives in various industries in the United States, as gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Sales jobs Average sales salary
Advertising Sales Reps $52,340
Insurance Sales Reps $49,840
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Reps $48,770
Sales Engineers $103,710
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Reps $62,910
Travel Agents $43,810
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Reps $62,890
Custom branding
Showcase your brand.
Video narrations
Easily video-narrate sales presentations or proposals when needed (otherwise video is optional). Redo slide if you made a mistake. Use built-in teleprompter to record longer videos.

Data rooms
Attach any supporting files and links. Make it easy for your prospects and clients to find the right information quickly.

Company profiles
Create company profiles with custom banners and info-packages tailored to different industries.
Contact details
Show your contact info easily accessible by your prospects and clients.
Custom CTAs
Add custom CTAs to drive prospects or clients to your calendar, sign up form, etc.
Engagement analytics
See how prospects and clients interact with your PDFs.

Feedback and Reactions
Collect feedback from prospects and clients. Feedback and reactions are not publicly visible.
Share PDFs
Share any existing PDF presentations and documents.
Live links
Share with a single link. Update files even after sharing your link. Get notified when your PDF is viewed. Turn off access anytime.

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To learn more about asynchronous video and how it can help your inside sales team accelerate the sales cycle, be sure to read our article.

FAQs

What are the main advantages of inside sales?

Inside sales is often a more cost effective model that allows for better collaboration, flexibility in schedules, and the ability to work remotely. Inside sales reps can also leverage tools like CRM software, email templates, and virtual meetings to be more productive.

Strong sales, communication, time management, and customer service skills are essential. Inside sales reps need to be highly trained in sales techniques like social selling, cold calling, and virtual demonstrations to engage customers remotely.

Inside sales reps spend their days on the phone and online setting meetings, following up on leads, conducting virtual sales calls, sending emails, researching accounts, updating CRM data, and working towards sales goals and metrics.

All types and sizes of companies leverage inside sales to generate leads, build relationships with customers, and drive revenue especially for mid-market or small businesses selling lower priced products and services.

Many start as an SDR or BDR focused on lead generation and appointment setting, then progress to account manager or account executive roles responsible for ongoing sales and customer management. With experience, inside sales reps may move into sales management or leadership positions.

Developing strong consultative selling abilities, leveraging CRM and sales enablement technology, honing social selling techniques, fine tuning cold calling and email outreach skills, and closely tracking sales metrics are key best practices for inside sales reps. Ongoing training is essential.

About the Author

Lidia Vijga is a seasoned professional with nearly 10 years of first-hand experience in B2B sales and B2B marketing. She has a proven track record of driving growth for companies across various industries. Throughout her career, Lidia has led numerous successful sales campaigns and implemented innovative marketing strategies that have significantly increased revenue and reduced customer acquisition cost for her clients. Lidia regularly shares her insights and experiences on LinkedIn, webinars, and public speaking engagements. Lidia believes in the power of personal qualities such as kindness, empathy, and the willingness to understand others. She is committed to empowering client-facing teams with tools that enhance their talent instead of automating it, and she firmly believes that teams that show their human side grow companies much faster.

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