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Sales Basics
  •   8 min read

Diving Deep into B2B Outside Sales vs Inside Sales: What You Should Know


ByJanani H

Published May 16, 2023

outside sales vs inside sales

Hold on tight as we take the plunge into the epic battle of B2B outside sales vs inside sales!

In this amusing and informative journey, we'll shed light on the pros, cons, and quirks of both sides. From face-to-face charm to email ninja skills, we've got it all covered!

So, whether you're a sales aficionado or just curious about the battlefield, get ready for a splash of insight, a sprinkle of humor, and a whole lot of sales wisdom. 

Hold your breath because the epic clash of outside sales vs inside sales is about to begin! Let's get started and uncover the surprising truths that will take your sales game to new heights!

What is B2B outside sales?

B2B outside sales is the practice of selling products and services face-to-face in an outdoor environment, such as an office or a convention. This type of sales is often referred to as field sales, or direct sales, and is an effective way to reach customers and boost sales.

Outside sales reps are responsible for building rapport with the prospect, demonstrating the capabilities of their product or service, handling objections, and dealing with negotiations, all in person. 

outside sales

What are the pros of B2B outside sales?

Amplifying success through personal connections, the pros of B2B outside sales:

1. More trust and loyalty 

One of the main advantages of outside sales is that it allows businesses to build relationships with customers in person, which can lead to increased trust and loyalty. It also allows businesses to build relationships with leads in a more personal way, allowing them to better understand their needs and provide tailored solutions.

2. Live demos 

Businesses can demonstrate their products/services in person, allowing customers to get a better idea of how they work.  This can be very beneficial in helping customers make informed decisions. It can also make a truly convincing argument that closes sales. Even some research shows that outside sales reps have higher closing rates than inside sales reps. 

3. More market insights 

B2B outside sales can be an effective way for businesses to gain market insights. By interacting with customers face-to-face, businesses can learn about their needs, preferences, and interests, which can help them better target their marketing efforts in the future.

4. Navigating complex sales cycles

B2B sales often involve intricate decision-making processes and multiple stakeholders. Outside sales professionals excel at maneuvering through these complexities, as they can address concerns, answer questions, and provide immediate support throughout the sales cycle.

5. Capturing non-verbal cues

Body language speaks volumes. Meeting face-to-face allows you to read subtle cues like facial expressions and gestures, helping you gauge interest, objections, and overall engagement. This valuable insight empowers you to adapt your approach and maximize your chances of success.

What are the cons of B2B outside sales?

There are several potential cons associated with B2B outside sales. Here are some common ones:

1. Time-consuming and expensive

For B2B outside sales professionals to be successful, they must invest a significant amount of time in researching potential clients and planning effective strategies.  The cost of travel, lodging, and other expenses related to B2B outside sales can add up quickly.

2. Difficult to track progress 

As B2B outside sales involve face-to-face interactions with customers, it can be difficult for businesses to track conversion rates or customer satisfaction. B2B outside sales can be unpredictable, as customer reactions and decisions may vary from one interaction to the next.

3. Hectic workload

It also gets hard for outside sales reps to manage their time and their calendars because they have to remain flexible with the timings of prospects or customers. And that can get chaotic to manage because outside sales reps aren’t likely to get much advance notice. 

4. Limited reach

Outside sales primarily target a specific geographic area or region, which can limit the potential customer base. It may be challenging to expand the sales reach beyond the assigned territory without additional resources or a different sales approach.

Strategies for effective B2B outside sales

To be successful in B2B outside sales, businesses need to have an effective strategy.

  • Set realistic goals: Create a goal-oriented plan for tracking outside sales efforts, aiding teams in working towards predefined goals effectively.
  • Conduct thorough research: Businesses should conduct thorough research on potential clients before meeting with them, so they can understand their needs and tailor their solutions accordingly.
  • Don’t forget to follow up: Businesses should build customer relationships through follow-ups, support, and incentives like discounts or freebies, fostering loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Value-based selling: Emphasize your product's value, showcasing how it helps clients achieve goals, improve efficiency, reduce costs, increase revenue, and deliver a strong ROI.

What is B2B inside sales?

As the world of sales continues to evolve, the way we sell does too. That’s where inside sales come in. Inside sales refers to a type of selling that is done primarily or exclusively through digital channels, such as phone calls, email, and online chat. 

In the  B2B world, inside sales typically require a higher degree of knowledge about the product or service being sold. This is because businesses are usually more complex organizations than consumers, and need to be convinced that the product or service can meet their specific needs.

As a result, B2B inside sales representatives must be able to effectively communicate the features and benefits of their products or services in a way that resonates with each prospect. They must also be able to build relationships with decision-makers within target organizations, as these individuals will ultimately determine whether or not a purchase is made.

inside sales

What are the pros of B2B inside sales?

There are numerous advantages to B2B inside sales, making it a popular choice for businesses. Some of the key advantages include:

1. Increased flexibility

B2B inside sales teams are generally more agile and adaptable than traditional field sales teams. This increased flexibility allows businesses to quickly respond to changes in the market or their own internal business needs.

2. Cost-effective

B2B inside sales is typically a lower-cost option than field sales, as it requires less investment in travel and other associated expenses. Many businesses find that they can achieve better results with a smaller team of inside sales representatives and a powerful engagement tool. In fact, research shows that inside sales teams pay 40%–90% less to acquire new customers.

3. Improved customer engagement 

B2B inside sales has the ability to establish deeper relationships with potential customers through increased interaction and engagement. This directly leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty rates. Inside sales reps can engage with prospects across multiple channels to increase the likelihood of a response. 

4. Greater scalability

The scalability of B2B inside sales teams makes them ideal for businesses that are experiencing high growth or are looking to enter new markets. With inside sales, businesses can quickly add or reassign representatives as needed, without incurring significant costs. Teams also rely on sales engagement tools to prospect, engage, automate, and track at scale. 

5. Access to new markets

By nature of their location, B2B inside sales teams has the potential to reach new markets that may be inaccessible to field sales teams. In addition, they can also target specific segments within larger markets for more customized outreach.

What are the cons of B2B inside sales?

In the outside vs inside sales debate, inside sales usually trumps the world of increasingly remote/hybrid workplaces. However, there are some drawbacks to a sales method that doesn’t involve face-to-face interactions. 

1. Building trust and credibility remotely

It can be difficult to establish trust and credibility with potential customers when you’re not meeting with them face-to-face. A lot of decision-makers rely on personal interaction to see if they’re committing their investments to the right organizations.  Especially if it's a large or expensive investment. Inside sales also doesn’t work when it’s important for a product or service to be seen in action - physically.

2. Standing out in a crowded inbox

There is more competition in terms of getting a prospect’s attention since they are likely being bombarded with calls and emails from other companies. It’s a lot harder to make your cold call or email the one that is opened or responded to in a very crowded inbox.

3. Overcoming the lack of non-verbal cues

There can be a higher rate of rejection since you’re not able to gauge body language or read verbal cues when speaking with someone on the phone or via email. However, sales tech is making advancements in conversation intelligence that leverages AI to detect these cues in digital conversations as well. 

4. The role of personality

It takes a certain type of personality to be successful in this role. Account executives and sales reps handling inside sales need to be comfortable making cold calls, handling rejection, and building relationships virtually. 

Strategies for effective B2B inside sales 

B2B inside sales strategies are critical for success in today's competitive marketplace. By understanding the needs and wants of your target market, you can more effectively sell to them and close more deals.

Some key strategies to consider include:

  • Know your audience: Take the time to understand who you're selling to and what their needs are. This will help you better tailor your sales pitch and approach. 
  • Be prepared: Have all of the information about your product or service at your fingertips so that you can quickly answer any questions that come up.
  • Build relationships: Take the time to build relationships with your prospects. This will make it more likely that they'll want to do business with you down the road.
  • Follow up: Don't let your prospects forget about you! Make sure to follow up after each interaction, whether it's by email, phone, or social media.

B2B outside sales vs inside sales: What's the difference?

difference between outside sales vs inside

These differences highlight the contrasting dynamics and considerations between B2B outside sales and inside sales, with each approach having its own advantages and challenges:

  • Location: B2B outside sales involve sales representatives physically meeting clients at their locations, while inside sales are conducted remotely, typically over the phone, email, or video conferencing. 
  • Personal interaction: Outside sales rely on face-to-face interactions, allowing for direct personal connections and relationship-building, whereas inside sales rely on virtual communication, requiring effective verbal and written communication skills.
  • Geographic reach: Outside sales typically focus on a specific territory or region, limiting the potential customer base, while inside sales can target a broader geographic area, potentially reaching a larger number of clients.
  • Cost and efficiency: Outside sales often require higher costs due to travel expenses, while inside sales generally have lower costs as there is no need for extensive travel. Inside sales can also be more efficient in terms of time management and the number of clients reached in a given timeframe.
  • Complexity of sales process: B2B outside sales often involve complex, high-value deals that require extensive relationship-building, negotiation, and multiple decision-makers. Inside sales typically handle smaller and less complex deals, requiring a more streamlined sales process.

B2B outside sales vs inside sales: Which is the best sales method?

Now, which is the best sales method, you ask? Well, it's like trying to decide between pizza or tacos – it depends on your taste! Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's all about finding the perfect recipe for your sales success.

Ultimately, it's like assembling your sales team. You might want a mix of charismatic outside sales superheroes and tech-savvy inside sales wizards. Combine the personal touch of outside sales with the efficiency of inside sales, and you've got yourself a winning combo.

Remember, in the end, it's not about the method you choose, but how you rock it with confidence, charisma, and a sprinkle of humor.