Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: Introduction

Are you looking to grow your business but aren’t sure what type of sales strategy to adopt? You have two options to consider: inside sales vs. outside sales. Out of 5.7 million people in sales positions in the United States, approximately 45.5% are inside sales representative while 52.8% are outside sales representatives. Inside sales and outside sales have the same objective- to increase revenue, but how they do it is approached in very different ways. Let’s dig into the differences between inside sales vs. outside sales in this comprehensive guide to see what option will work best for your company. 

Inside Sales vs Outside Sales percentage stats

Companies that Utilize Inside vs. Outside Sales

When it comes to inside vs. outside sales, a company may decide to adopt one strategy or both simultaneously. In fact, businesses that use both methods have a higher chance at maximizing their sales and lead generation. This combination method is most common in B2B business structures. In fact, HubSpot’s 2021 Sales Enablement Survey, which surveyed over 500 sales leaders, showed that 68% of sales leaders say they’ll adopt a hybrid selling model in 2021. However, when looking at inside sales vs. outside sales, the two should be viewed as different methods that together, support and complement each other quite well. They both have the same goal; both concerned with lead generation and making sales. How they go about that goal is what makes each of them unique.  

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: What’s the difference?

So what is inside sales? In inside sales, the sales representative’s duties include promoting a company’s goods or services over the phone, via email, or through other internet means. Inside sales reps usually work with a team of other representatives in a shared office space. Going into an office and having to share the space with other reps in the field can make the job very different from having to do sales face-to-face as an outside sales rep would. Because an inside sales rep works in an office environment, they do not have to worry as much about their appearance. While they still likely will show up to the office looking professional, it is not something that will directly impact whether they make a sale or not.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales What’s the difference

Client Outreach: Inside Sales

Unlike telemarketing, inside sales reps have a very particular method of reaching customers. They have specific sales strategies to sell products and services to their customers.

Typically with inside sales, the customer is led to the representative because the customer has performed some type of action on the company’s website. For example, the customer may have downloaded content off the website. Maybe they requested a coupon. In some instances, they’ve used a live chat on the company website. These are just some of the ways inbound sales representatives get warm leads.

What is Outside Sales?

Outside sales is the act of selling a product or service to a customer in person. Unlike an inside sales rep who needs to rely on technology to create their relationships, outside sales reps focus more on in person sales. This personal approach creates a work environment where the rep has to be extra aware of how they carry themselves. It is super helpful if the rep knows how to turn up the charm! Everything they do is in person, so they need to make a great impression.

Client Outreach: Outside Sales

Outside sales representatives have to travel to meet their clients. That means that an outside sales rep has to physically go out into the field to meet potential customers. This can be at industry events, seminars, at the client’s office, restaurant or even door to door. This is all dependent on the product or service you are selling and the sales strategy that the company aims for. 

As a result of this travel, working as an outside sales rep is more costly for a business than an inside sales rep. The cost of an outside sales professional includes car rentals, plane tickets, hotel accommodations, food outings and more.

In addition, in outside sales, the representative must be able to be more flexible in their scheduling. They must be able to meet clients and be prepared for challenges that may come their way such as meeting cancellations and delays. This can make it hard sometimes for an outside sales rep to be able to manage their own schedule which may change due to travel delays and other issues.

In addition, outside sales representatives must make sure they are always looking sharp. They are face-to-face with their client, so they have to be prepared to look professional when they meet. Additionally, outside sales reps must be ready to entertain their customers. For example, the rep and customer may end up going out to dinner and building a rapport that way.

The Pros of Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

There are many pros and cons to inside sales and outside sales. Let’s start with inside sales. One pro is that you don’t have to commute or travel to far places to reach your client. An inside sales client essentially comes to you via phone, email or chat. So, there is no time wasted on commuting. Another pro is that you can become more familiar with your work environment. In inside sales, you are either going into an office or you’re working from home so you can get comfortable very quickly whereas in outside sales you have to go to a lot of different places that may be new to you. Depending on how you prefer to work this could be a pro or a con.

In addition, being an inside sales rep is a great way to start your sales career. Having a position in inside sales gives you a good understanding of what the world of sales is all about. If you end up excelling in inside sales and you want to take it even further, then it will be much easier for you to get into outside sales.

The Cons of Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

There are some cons to inside sales. One con is that you are limited to your desk. If you are the type of person that recharges by socializing and getting out to meet new people, then the idea of having to stay at your desk throughout your workday may be a deal breaker for you.

Another con is that you may find it a little more difficult to build rapport with your clients. A lot of the selling that you do is in a virtual space since it is usually done through emails, phone or chat so you won’t get to see your client face-to-face.

The Pros of Outside Sales vs. Inside Sales

There are some perks to being in outside sales. In outside sales, you get to feel like you are your own boss. Your hours are more flexible, and you get to decide how and where you are going to make your pitch. For example, maybe you want to take your client out to lunch to discuss your proposal. This allows you to have a say in how you build a relationship with your client.

Another pro is that you will usually get paid more in outside sales. In outside sales, you usually earn a base salary plus commission. According to Hubspot’s 2017 data, companies that had the majority of outside sales reps had a base salary that was 36% higher than inside sales reps. In general, it is more lucrative than an inside sales job however there is the potential for more money to be made.. Another pro is that you will get to travel more. Outside sales rely on you having to physically reach out to your client so more often than not, you’ll end up having to go to different places depending on the company that you work for and where you live.

The Cons of Outside Sales vs. Inside Sales

There are some cons to outside sales. For example, outside sales require you to have a lot of self-motivation. You must be able to put yourself out there and make a sale physically in person. It requires high-level confidence, and you have to be able to talk to your clients without hiding behind a curtain. In addition, in outside sales, you may get homesick. Your days off will usually be spent driving or flying to and from the client’s location. If you prefer more of a routine, then this will be a huge con for you.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales Variation in Skills

There is a variation in skill set when it comes to inside sales versus outside sales. Outside sales for example typically requires someone to be extremely extroverted with a high level of situational awareness. You need to be able to think on your feet, answer questions on the spot and pick up on social cues. Remember, everything you do and say will be in person so sometimes it can feel like the pressure is on. This requires the rep to stay cool, calm and collected.

Inside sales on the other hand requires a different set of skills. You need to be able to have a high level of focus. You also need to be consistent with your sales strategies as inside sales reps are typically given scripts and guides to help them through their workflow throughout the day. It should be noted of course that sometimes the variation in skill sets will overlap.

For example, both rely on the reps having great communication skills, confidence, and perseverance.

Tools and Software Used in Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

In inside sales, the most basic tool that will help manage your clients is a CRM system. CRM tools allow you to organize customer and prospect contact information, identify sales opportunities, record service issues, and manage your campaigns. An example of CRM software would be something like Salesforce Classic or Salesforce Lightning. In addition, inside sales reps would benefit greatly from phone sales software such as Five9 or AirCall. These tools make it easier for reps to contact their customers. 

Outside sales reps require tools that allow them to be on the go while still keeping their work life organized. For example, sales mapping software helps reps organize who their leads are, when they should try and meet their client and how to find them. If you are a sales rep that travels frequently, then this type of software will be extremely useful. 

Tools and Software Needed for Both

There are a few tools that both inside and outside sales reps will use. For example, both inside and outside sales reps will undoubtedly need to be able to navigate some sort of calendar system. Google calendars or Outlook calendar is a great example of that. Reps from both sides of the aisle need to be able to have a layout of their days as their schedule will fill up quickly.

Additionally inside sales reps spend most of their time at their desk so computers, phones, CRM and inboxes are all extremely important tools for them. Outside sales reps will need these tools as well however they benefit greatly from having a solid and reliable smartphone since they are constantly on the go. 


Although inside sales teams can be established and maintained internally for any organization, you should be aware that there is a possibility to hire a company to outsource for you. Whether it is outbound or inbound focused, any step in the inside sales process can be delegated to knowledgeable businesses committed to ensuring that everything is in order. Sales development companies that outsource make it their job to generate a sales pipeline by creating and managing leads that result in real sales.

For a lot of companies outsourcing inside sales representatives is a great way to take some of the extra work off their plate. Outsourcing sales reps allows companies to save money on recruiting, hiring and training. Additionally, hiring an outsourced sales team enables efficiency and consistency in your sales campaign. When hiring an outsource sales team you are rest assured that the employees already know how to cold call, pitch sales, nurture their leads and have experience in using a lot of the sales management tools.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales should you outsuource

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