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What is Inside Sales?

Posted by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Jul 14, 2009

To borrow a line from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart:

I shall not attempt further to define Inside Sales...But I know it when I see it...

Such is the case for many when it comes to the umbrella term Inside Sales.

Inside Sales can & does mean different things within different organizations. It also goes by many different names (e.g. Account Development, Account Management, Business Development, Sales Development, etc.).

Here are a few definitions of Inside Sales from Executives, Managers & Thought Leaders. I hope you enjoy the perspectives.

What is Inside Sales?

Telesales - Using a technology enabled inside resource to acquire new customers.  This model gives sole responsibility for the management of the sales cycle to the inside resource.

Teleprospecting - This model uses inside resources to generate and qualify leads based on predefined definition of a qualified opportunity.  Appointment setting is incorporated in teleprospecting.

Kathleen Maloney (Dir, Account Development at Endeca)
In my view, Inside Sales is a revenue generating function with the Sales organization that is tasked with closing business over the phone.

Inside Sales Reps are quota carrying and usually tasked with closing business for a specific product line or dollar amount. Inside Sales will move deals through the sales process to close using only the web & phone and without having face-to-face meetings.

Anne Fleischman (Inside Sales/Demand Generation at Kronos)
Inside sales requires getting to the point intelligently and quickly, demonstrating an understanding of the prospect's challenges and asking smart questions that will build the case for your product/service. Also staying on the phone or setting an appointment to talk in the future for a defined period of time.

Measuring the prospects interest by setting a clear follow-up is a must in Inside Sales, in my experience.

My take
inside sales \in-ˈsīd-ˈsālz\ Involves most or many of the following activities: cultivating prospective buyers; conveying the features, advantages and benefits of a product/service; and if appropriate closing the sale.

Different from Field Sales as employees do not leave the physical location of the office, relying on phone & web-based technologies.

I ran a cloud analysis on the keywords used in 10 Inside Sales job posts and found the following word frequency:

Does that sounds like Inside Sales in your view? A huge thanks to Kathleen & Anne for participating.

But what do you think? How would you define Inside Sales?




Good post and well-said. Inside sales plays a very important role in closing business and too many people don't know how to properly use it. Thanks for helping us understand

posted @ Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:22 PM by Jeff Ogden

I prefer to use the term INTERNAL SALES TEAM rather than anything else. 
Most people understand what is meant by internal sales but a lot of sales people do not understand what is meant by INSIDE sales thinking that it is a fancy term or abbreviation for another sales approach that just complicates things even worse! 
I recently asked this very same question at a conference I was a keynote speaker at. Only 65% of the attendees new what was meant by INSIDE SALES whereas 88% knew what INTERNAL SALES were! 
As before it's a terminology thang! 
Oh for consistency! 
Sean McPheat 
The Sales Jedi

posted @ Wednesday, July 15, 2009 7:20 AM by The Sales Jedi

@Jeff - thanks for the encouragement. 
@Sean - Only 65% familiar with the term inside sales?! Wow. You put forth a very interesting notion. Rapid progress is being made as Inside Sales matures in reputation, professionalism, caliber & impact. 
The newly created American Association of Inside Sales Professionals is a great sign of these advances.

posted @ Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:51 AM by Matt

Please forgive my ignorance. I was of the understanding that 'Inside Sales' referred to internal resources that are mainly the first line of communication with suspects/prospects. Inside Sales would perform processes in the sort of business development/qualification areas and then hand off the leads/deals to Account Managers or Field Sales to manage the rest of the sale. 
Clearly I am misunderstanding something.

posted @ Thursday, July 16, 2009 2:23 AM by InsideSalesNovice

@InsideSalesNovice Thank you for contributing your thoughts.  
Inside Sales can mean exclusively handling the front-end of the sales process. We generally refer to that role as "Lead Generation", but many other titles abound. 
Our experience & research do tell us that Inside Sales as a: 
- quota carrying 
- revenue generating  
function is expanding at a very rapid rate. 
Perhaps as this trend continues, some standardization of definitions will occur.  
Thanks again!

posted @ Thursday, July 16, 2009 6:36 AM by Matt

How about; using the telephone as your primary tool promote your product or service and generate measurable revenue for your organization

posted @ Wednesday, July 22, 2009 11:12 AM by Ben Hyman

Inside Sales is phone based, the main focus might be prospecting and lead generation, while the other phases of the sales cicle, negoatiations and closing, might be done by Inside Sales as well as they might be shared with or transferred to Field Sales.

posted @ Tuesday, March 15, 2011 2:21 PM by Barney

Great post, all the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management courses will help you understand the issues being discussed here

posted @ Friday, May 20, 2011 9:26 AM by Sales course

Thanks for your kind idear about inside have clear my ignorant on sales ideology.

posted @ Thursday, March 08, 2012 3:21 AM by Ogbaji Bartholomew ogah

I am totally agree with your oppinion.this post is very encouraging to people who want to know these topics. 

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