First what is an outside salesperson. It must be the opposite of an inside salesperson, right?
Yes – according to Ken Drogue the expert in the field of inside sales:
“The most pragmatic definition of Inside Sales is simple: inside sales is remote sales. It has been called virtual sales, professional sales done remotely, or one of my recent favorites “sales in the cloud.” Where outside sales or traditional field sales is done face-to-face.”
So, really the difference between “in- and out- side sales” is the amount of time you spend face to face with the customer.
When I spent all my time selling, it was in the traditional way. I was out of the office more often than not, and spending my time in front of customers. That was what was expected. Percentage face time with the customer was a gauge of success. This metric was looked at by sales managers as a measure of those who could sell and those who couldn’t. Skills like persuading or convincing that are at the core of selling are more effective when done face to face, than at the end of a telephone line.
But that was before the Internet and its total takeover of the channels of communication and conversation with customers. Specifically apps like Gotomeeting or Webex facilitate onsite meetings or demos replace “being there” and are a lot cheaper. This has had a profound effect on the degree of out- versus in- side selling, pushing the bar heavily toward less face-to-face time with the customer.
So, should outside sales reps be worried? No, not at all. The same sales process still goes on, but in a different way. The challenges of selling are still the same, but the rep may be finding themselves stuck more in front of a computer monitor, than breezing down the highway to a customer account.
Somethings in the sales process, and within the sales cycle are undergoing deep change though, and I’ll get into that in a future post.