Inside Sales Vs Outside Sales: Key Differences

inside sales vs outside sales

Sales used to be a predominantly outside-the-office process until the advent of sales technologies and tools. The job of the sales team inside the office was to provide hot leads which on-field reps would close. The sales process was divided into two categories, inside sales and outside sales.

Gradually, the role of both processes is blending in, making the demarcation between outside and inside sales almost negligible. Today, we will find out the key differences between outside and inside sales and tell you how the roles of respective reps differ.

What is Inside Sales?

Inside sales refer to the remote selling of products and services. The inside sales team uses a number of tools and methods to track leads, nurture them and finally, convert them to customers.

An inside sales rep can communicate and sell through various means like telephone, web conferencing, messages, chat, and more! They generally handle a large volume of leads and also close more deals than outside sales reps.

What is Outside Sales?

Outside sales refer to the sales process carried on in the field. Outside sales reps visit prospects, set up appointments, provide demos and close deals physically with the prospect. They travel and meet prospective clients face-to-face, which is the key differentiator with inside sales.

Today, most companies use outside sales for complex and high-priced products. It naturally makes sense to close deals via inside sales, as it saves the cost of on-field logistics and also time.

Difference Between Roles of Sales Reps

Till a point of time, the job of the inside sales team was to provide leads to the outside sales reps. The on-field reps would follow up on the leads and close the deals. But things began to change with the coming of eCommerce and online sales.

Now, most customers are comfortable and want to buy remotely without meeting a sales rep. Companies began to capitalize on this and provide tools to the inside sales team to achieve more-

Did someone click on your Google ad? – The lead gets automatically added to the prospect list.

Want people to join your email list? Write a great copy with actionable CTA to encourage users to fill your web form.

Using tools like LeadSquared CRM (15-day free trial), the inside sales team can track the entire customer journey, nurture leads, provide context-based service, and close deals effectively.  Knowing the customer behavior and understanding the different customer pain points can help ensure you increase the retention rate. It will also ensure that customers look more favorably towards you, and offer you the much-needed work of mouth publicity.

As a result, outside sales is now used only for specific cases. If you have a high-priced or complex product, outside sales is a favorable way to go. If you are dealing with specific customer personas, like doctors, then on-field reps make sense. Also, some products like medical equipment cannot be sold remotely- you need to give at least a presentation or demo.

For this reason, an outside sales rep spends most of his day meeting prospects through his field sales app and setting up meetings. They also need to travel to customer locations and conduct conferences, sales events, and so on.

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Inside Sales Vs. Outside Sales: Key Process Differences

Now, while both hold some similarities-  mainly when it comes to sales – there are differences between inside and outside sales that cannot be ignored. Here is a look at some of them.

Lead Prospecting

Inside sales depend on various sales and marketing tools to track leads. Companies can also automate the process including tasks like lead scoring and lead qualifying. For instance, a visitor who fills up your web form is a much potential lead compared to a visitor who just browsed your homepage.

Outside sales, on the other hand, depend on phone calls and face-to-face meetings to prospect leads.


The outside sales reps provide presentations, demos and close deals in person. The inside sales team does the job remotely through phone, email, web conferencing, and so on. Customers can get their orders delivered right to their doorstep through any courier company. Naturally, you can’t sell some products through inside sales, such as industrial machinery, on-premise software solutions, and medical equipment.

Sales Cycles

As most of the work is done remotely and handled through workflow automation, the inside sales team has a shorter sales cycle. They can communicate and close a large number of deals sitting behind a computer without any face-to-face interaction.

The outside sales team has a longer sales cycle compared to inside sales. The reps have to visit prospects, spend time in meetings, give demos or set up product displays. Naturally, that takes more time but yields better results- according to research, on-field reps close deals 40% of the time, while inside sales reps achieve conversion only 18% of the time.


Outside sales is more costly compared to inside sales. Why?

  • The job involves traveling to customer locations
  • Companies have to pay for fuel, lodging, and food
  • On-field jobs have unpredictable overheads and work inefficiencies

On the contrary, inside sales are much more cost-effective as it uses a range of software and automation tools. The reps also don’t have to travel anywhere and all the company pays are for internet, electricity and other cheap overheads.

The high cost of outside sales makes it suitable for complex and expensive products.

Final Thoughts

Though there are differences, inside and outside sales work best hand-in-hand. If your product can be sold remotely, it makes sense to use your inside sales team to cut back costs, time and effort.

If a prospect is difficult to close, the outside sales rep can follow up the lead and close the deal effectively. In the end, some companies like machinery and equipment manufacturers will need to have a strong outside sales process and inside sales is not effective for them.

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