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The “Inside Story” on Inside Sales Careers

When someone tells you that they are “in sales,” do you assume that they have an outside sales position or do you make no assumptions? Chances are that, like most, you associate “being in sales” with an outside sales position. And more than likely, you probably assume that the person with whom you are talking is in B2B sales and not in B2C sales.

Well if the growing trend continues, your assumptions will be wrong as more and more businesses are hiring inside sales reps more than they are hiring outside reps.

What’s Behind the Trend?

It comes down to two primary reasons: Costs and coverage.

Usually, the highest expense that a business has is their payroll. Employees cost a lot of money. And for employers who have an outside sales force, the costs go well beyond salary and benefits. Outside sales employees, by their very nature, travel and visit customers. They often times need to fly to different cities, stay in hotels, entertain clients and, of course, be reimbursed for all their expenses.

A typical 3 day business trip can easily top $1,500. And that’s per trip, per employee! Imagine the costs involved in having a full team of outside sales reps!

While not all outside sales reps incur travel expenses, many do. And without question, the percentage of outside sales reps that travel (and therefore incur travel related expenses,) is significantly higher than the number of inside sales reps that do.

Inside Sales Reps: Same Results, Less Costs

Before you think that the only reason inside sales careers are a growing trend is for employers to lower their costs, you need to understand that the sales culture has changed drastically around the world. Workers are tasked with more responsibilities in their jobs and therefore, have less time for meetings with sales reps. According to a well known national survey organization’s 2011 survey, the average outside sales reps needs to call on 21 different “net new” businesses before securing an appointment. And when you consider that they average outside sales reps makes between 10 and 13 “cold calls” per work day, you realize that it can take up to 2 days for an outside sales rep to secure a qualified appointment with an interested prospect. These daily averages diminish greatly once a rep has more than 1 year of tenure as they either become too busy to prospect or get “burned out” from the daily grind.

An Inside Sales rep, however, often is expected to make 40 to 60 calls per day. This means that if we use the previous averages, an inside rep will create 2 or 3 sales opportunities per day or 10 to 15 per week.

The Value Behind Inside Reps

Not everyone is cut out for Inside Sales, but those who are and those that work for an employer dedicated to the success of their inside sales initiatives, are quite often well organized, efficient and understand that account coverage is the key to success.

Being “phone-based,” and inside rep can deliver activity levels that outside reps could only dream of. This account coverage strength not only keeps a business’s name in the forefront of their prospects minds but also lets current customers know that they are valued and important enough to be contacted on a regular basis.

Two of the main complaints that many businesses have when it comes to outside sales reps is how often the reps visit them and how much “new” information that is relevant to their business. While some of these complaints are caused by outside reps who simply don’t fully understand the value of maintaining relationships with customers, most of the issues are caused by a genuine lack of time. Outside reps are often times “too busy” to do anything except try to close more business and deal with customer issues.

Inside reps certainly are very busy individuals as well but making a 10 minute phone call (of Skype, Face-Time, etc) is much easier to squeeze into a work day for an inside sales professional than it is for an outside rep to schedule a face-to-face visit.

Last Thoughts

Inside sales is not for everyone. But with an ever increasing number of employers realizing the values of employing inside reps, you may just want to work on improving your organization and telephone skills in case an opportunity presents itself to you.

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