Outside SalesSales based organizations typically choose between pursuing an inside sales model or an outside sales model. Inside sales implies that salespeople report daily to the office and make sales inquiries over the phone, via web based virtual demos, or through another remote strategy. Outside sales include field reps who travel for face to face meetings with clients and other services that benefit from a physically present representative. Today, inside sales organizations are more prolific, and are growing more rapidly than outside sales organizations. However the two are inherently different in the kind of sales they bring in. This is something to consider before deciding which model to follow. Should you choose one, or incorporate smaller teams of both styles into your sales organization? It all depends on your business and your product.

Quality vs. quantity is a simple way to sum up the different types of deals that come out of outside and inside selling respectively. Inside reps do most of their selling from their desks over the phone. Not having to travel at all allows them to pitch the product at a mass volume to many people everyday. Inside sales also allows for much easier prospecting. Ken Krogue notes that prospecting has become almost entirely an inside sales process, with most field sales reps choosing to first reach prospective clients over the phone rather than face to face. Inside sales tends to fall on the quantity side of the spectrum, which is not to say the customers are of a lower quality, but they are less likely to be big ticket purchases. In general, items purchased over the phone are ordered in smaller quantities with a shorter sales cycle. Wallace Management Group notes that inside sales tend to be centered around a lower cost product, lower complexity, and small scale orders. This makes sense, as companies who are willing to spend a lot of money on a complex, industry altering product usually want to meet face to face with a rep to work out price and functionality. However, inside sales makes up for lower cost with a larger volume.

While inside reps make seven times as many pitches, field reps convert prospects to clients 40% of the time compared to inside reps who do this only 18% of the time, says Krogue. With their face to face meetings, field reps are able to cultivate strong relationships with clients and continue selling to them over a longer period of time making for a longer, more complex sales cycle, according to SalesLoft. Field sales lends itself to products that demand a lot of service, attention, or set up. For example, field reps who sell their products in retail locations need to be able to visit the store to set up product displays and keep their product in stock. Another advantage of field reps is that they are able to utilize more methods for sales such as presentations, displays, and samples. This keeps prospects engaged and more likely to buy, as visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than written text. Because of the time, travel, and long-term relationships of field sales reps, they subscribe more to the quality over quantity mantra.

Recently, many sales based organizations have been switching to inside sales models. Today, for every one field rep hired, ten inside reps are hired. However, this does not mean field reps are obsolete. A Harvard Business Review study on changing sales dynamics shows that while many organizations are switching to inside sales, they still need and appreciate the relationships built by field reps. As stated here by this study participant, “Field Sales is more strategic, meeting with C-level executives and developing strategic business innovation to help them grow their business versus inside which is more quantity and not as in-depth the majority of the time.” If you are selling to both small and large companies, the answer may be a hybrid solution that uses both kinds of sales. Outside field reps can handle large accounts that require a constant hands on presence, while inside reps are able to sell more to smaller businesses remotely, who will not need as much interaction.

When deciding which sales model to choose, first analyze what it is you’re selling, and to whom you are selling. Despite inside sales recent drive in popularity, if you are selling a pricey product to a large organization, outfitting your business with an entirely inside sales team may not get you far. The converse could result in a small business’ annoyance at having to take time out of their schedule for a face to face meeting. Having both systems in place can be mutually beneficial depending on what you are selling. Know your product, learn your customers, and go from there!