Wednesday, January 25, 2012
What is Inside Sales? — Our Definition of Inside Sales
Inside Sales is “remote sales,” most lately called “virtual sales,” or professional sales done remotely. Where Outside Sales or traditional Field Sales is done face-to-face.
The term “Inside Sales” originally came about in the late 1980s as an attempt to differentiate “Telemarketing” (or “Telesales in the UK) from the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices.
Telemarketing is often believed to have begun in the 1950s by DialAmerica Marketing, Inc., reported to be the first company dedicated to telephone sales and services. By the 1970s telemarketing was a common phrase used to describe the process of selling over the telephone. It often included both outbound and inbound, but later became much more synonymous with the types of outbound calling we’re all familiar with—large-scale “blasts” to lists of names to try and drum up quick sales, usually while the family is sitting around the dinner table.
By the late 1990s/early 2000s, Inside Sales was the term used to differentiate the practice from Outside Sales—the traditional face-to-face sales model where salespeople went to the client’s location of business to engage in the sales process.
For years Inside Sales has been relegated to generating leads for the more senior Outside Sales reps or merely closing the smaller accounts. This is now no longer the case. Many companies are already using a hybrid form of Inside Sales, with reps calling from their company’s home office, then traveling occasionally to client locations and merely calling it “sales.”
By Marc Benioff’s own admission in his book “Behind the Cloud, salesforce.com “grew their company for the first five or six years with a telesales or Inside Sales model.” They added Outside Sales or Field Sales to go upmarket when they wanted to sell to Enterprise-class companies, but the company still does a majority of their sales work remotely.
Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely. It is not the mindless “phone drone” that calls at dinner time and won’t hang up until you have said “no” seven times.
Inside Sales is also not Customer Service. Though Inside Sales frequently involves an element of inbound call handling like a customer service department, in its pure form it is not customer service.
Some companies erroneously describe their inbound call centers as “inside sales,” but this does not fall within the boundaries of our definition unless the agents’ primary function is selling.
Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely . . . it is remote sales.
Thanks to Ken Krogue for this article!