Marketing | March 19, 2024

Inside vs. Outside Sales: Knowing When to Use Each Method for Successful Selling

Curt VanderWall

Knowing when to use inside vs. outside sales comes down to what you’re trying to sell and your sales strategy. After all, different customers respond to different kinds of sales tactics. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you need to find out the best way to sell.

The main difference between inside and outside sales is the interaction between the salesperson and the customer. Inside sales are performed over the phone, through any form of communication over the internet, or even through mail. Meanwhile, outside sales are when your traveling sales team meets customers in person.

You need to choose the right method before your customer gets a sight of what you can offer. According to PwC, 32% of all customers get turned off by brands after one bad experience. So, having the right approach always matters if you want to sell effectively.

In this blog post, we will talk about the different cases where you should use inside or outside sales. We’ll also delve into situations where both sales options are ideal and how your team can get on board.

Understanding Inside Sales

When your product or service is offered and sold remotely, it is considered an inside sale. So, for example, if you make a sale through chat, email, calls, or text, it’s an inside sale. These customers are often warm leads– people who have expressed interest by interacting with advertisements and newsletters, for example.

Some businesses prefer inside sales because they are cost-effective, can reach a large audience, and incorporate technology. When you don’t have a lot of capital, it can be a great way to boost brand exposure. On the other hand, it’s not always easy to personalize and build rapport with customers from afar.

A salesperson communicating with a customer remotely.Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

Exploring Outside Sales

Outside sales often require salespeople to be on the road, adapting their pitch to any given situation. If they’re presenting to a trade show, business owner, or a customer in their own home, they need to close. This is a more personalized approach, accommodating the 71% of customers who prefer a personal touch, according to McKinsey.

The key advantage of outside sales is how salespeople can adapt to customer preferences, making for a more personal connection. They can also address the bespoke and complex needs of each customer. However, traveling to close costs more time and money and can lead to a limited reach compared to inside sales.

Determining When to Use Inside Sales

Determining whether you should implement inside sales strategies will heavily depend on what you’re trying to sell and who you’re selling to.

Create custom portals for repeating customers for returning customers is a powerful method to boost your online sales. These customized spaces enrich the shopping journey, making it more personalized and engaging, which helps retain customer interest.

Consistently updating your audience via an organized mailing list also plays a vital role in keeping your brand relevant and top-of-mind, encouraging further purchases. Such initiatives not only foster stronger loyalty among customers but also markedly enhance your business’s overall success.

Even though business is one of those quick online degrees, there is still a lot of strategy involved. So, to help you out, here are some ideal scenarios for when you should pick inside sales over outside sales:

Your Product or Service is Simple to Understand

It’s often easier to close if the potential customer understands what they will get in return for their money. If your product or service is easy to grasp, it will be simple to explain without having to demonstrate. That is, your selling points will be clear, regardless if your sale happens over the phone or via email.

For example, you are selling a product or service with a self-explanatory name or marketing collateral, like a mug. Everyone already knows what a mug is for, how to use it, and what value it can bring. So, a simple, familiar product will be easy to sell remotely without confusing customers.

Conversely, if you’re selling an innovation that people don’t understand yet, you might need to explain it in person. Toothpaste tablets, for instance, can make any customer hesitate if they’ve never tried them before. In this case, we would be more likely to buy if someone showed us how to use a toothpaste tablet.

A person sitting in front of a laptop with a mug on their right.Photo by Liza Summer:

You Want To Reach a Broad Audience

Inside sales is the easiest way to reach a lot of people cost-effectively if you have enough warm leads. Your sales team can hit the phones, emails, or chats to sell to multiple people without the need to travel. You can also remove any geographical barriers between you and your customers with a strong digital presence.

Therefore, to reach the maximum number of people in a short amount of time, inside sales is the answer. This is perfect in cases where your business has expanded globally or nationwide without enough physical stores. You can maintain your growth through inside sales without a brick-and-mortar or a door-to-door salesman.

You Want to Leverage Digital Marketing Strategies

According to PwC, 57% of businesses “say technology was critical to their performance” in 2021.

Moreover, staying current with digital marketing and e-commerce trends can significantly enhance our inside sales efforts. Exploring dropshipping as a model offers the potential to streamline inventory management and reduce costs, allowing us to allocate more attention to marketing and sales initiatives. Delving into the distinctions between print on demand and dropshipping can offer valuable insights for those keen on modernizing their retail strategies. This knowledge can be crucial in deciding how to best structure your business for efficient inside sales operations.

If your company has heavily invested in building a digital marketing presence, you must be swimming in warm leads. It could also mean your business has the infrastructure to connect with customers virtually.

Here are some strategies you can use to optimize your inside sales performance through digital marketing:

  • Use AI software to chase leads;
  • Build automation for personalized service;
  • Integrate marketplace platforms on social media;
  • Create custom portals for repeating customers.

Digital marketers designing a presentation.Photo by Canva Studio:

Determining When to Use Outside Sales

Your existing sales strategies can be a good starting point for when you need to use outside sales. Here are some scenarios you should prioritize using outside sales:

You Offer High-Value Products/Services

When offering a high-value product or service, a portion of your markup comes from personalized customer service. In a way, you’ll need to wine and dine with your customer through your sales team. You need to provide them with a good interaction when they consider their purchase if you want to close.

There are also high-value products and services that need to be viewed or experienced in person. Your customers will want to see every detail that can justify the price they will pay. After all, they’re paying a premium for your product or service.

You Want to Build Long-Term Relationships

Companies that prioritize personalized tactics have been found to earn 40% more than their counterparts, according to McKinsey. If your customer is paying a premium for what you are selling, they would expect the complete package. Beyond selling, you need to show your customers that you value them enough to cater to them in person.

It is not easy to build a long-term relationship remotely. This is where your outside sales team can champion customer loyalty and keep them on board. A more personalized approach can show your customer how much you care about their business.

You Sell Customized Or Complex Solutions

If you are offering a bespoke or complicated product or service, you will need to sell in person. Your customer needs to understand what they are paying for, and you need to know what they want. With a salesperson on site, you can answer all their questions with a personalized approach.

Once you know what your customers want, you are more likely to close. Companies that offer customized or complex solutions tend to offer pricing by quotation rather than a one-size-fits-all price. This can be to your advantage and make your customers feel like they are getting a good deal.

Consider launching a business that operates on a print on demand model, positioning yourself as a middleman. This approach could serve as an excellent foundation for your enterprise, providing you with the opportunity to offer a complete, solution-oriented package to your customers right from the start.

A customer is getting the key for their new car.Photo by Gustavo Fring:

Hybrid Approaches: Blending Inside and Outside Sales

There are some cases where you can use both inside and outside sales as your main strategy, such as:

  • Targeting diverse client demographics;
  • Balancing cost-effectiveness with relationship-building;
  • Leveraging inside sales for initial contact and outside sales for closing deals;
  • Maximizing efficiency through a hybrid model.

The Benefits Of Combining Both Methods

Combining both inside and outside sales methodologies offers businesses a versatile approach to sales. By leveraging inside sales for initial outreach and qualification, companies can efficiently reach a broader audience at a lower cost. This way, inside sales representatives can handle routine tasks while outside sales can aim for opportunities that require relationship-building.

Moreover, blending inside and outside sales lets you adapt your sales strategies to the specific needs and preferences of customers. Inside sales can cater to tech-savvy clients who prefer digital communication channels. Meanwhile, outside sales can cater to those who value face-to-face interactions and personalized service.

Here are some examples of successful hybrid sales models:

Best Buy

Today, Best Buy is one of the biggest global electronics retailers, and it uses the hybrid model for its expansion. It adopted e-commerce in its sales strategy to keep up with competitors but allowed in-store pickup as well. They also have physical stores to cater to those who prefer in-person purchases.

By selling both online and in person, their inside and outside sales approach helped them maximize their sales. Their digital platform allowed them to reach new customers, and they kept their loyal customers through their brick-and-mortar stores.

A customer using their credit card to make an online purchaseImage by rostichep:


IBM is a technology company that has adapted to the growing e-commerce landscape while maintaining in-person sales. They currently have both online and offline sales channels, depending on what their customer needs. In this way, they offer convenience and accessibility to current and new customers, depending on their preferences.

The company has also prioritized the customer experience online and offline. It is considered the best way to meet what its customers need and align their sales strategy to stay ahead. Until today, IBM’s hybrid model has allowed it to continue to be a market leader in tech.

When Should I Use Inside Sales Vs. Outside Sales?

When to Use Inside Sales When to Use Inside Sales When to Use Both Inside and Outside Sales
Product or service is simple to understand High-value products/services Targeting diverse client demographics
Want to reach a broad audience Building long-term relationships Balancing cost-effectiveness with relationship-building
Want to leverage digital marketing strategies Customized or complex solutions Leveraging inside sales for initial contact
Maximizing efficiency through a hybrid model

Maximize Your Sales With The Right Approach

Knowing what is the difference between inside and outside sales can help you identify the best strategy to maximize revenue. You need to understand your customer, the product and service you are selling, and your market. Depending on your resources and what you can accomplish, the right sales approach can help you succeed.

Make sure to adapt your sales strategies depending on your and your customer’s needs. The right sales method can be the difference between your and your competitors’ survival, so choose wisely.

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