If you’re considering a profession in B2B sales, or you’re looking for a new position, then you’ll want to determine which type of sales position is right for you: Inside vs Outside Sales (also known as field sales).
Inside Sales professionals mostly engage prospects remotely (by phone, email or video calls), rather than in person. Outside Sales professionals travel to meet with clients in person. Depending on the industry and the product, some companies may rely more on one type than the other. And you may be drawn to, and excel in, one role but not the other.
Here are 5 things to consider when evaluating B2B Inside Sales vs Outside Sales positions:
1. Some sales pros thrive in one role and not the other.
Don’t assume that because you are a successful Outside Sales rep that you will also be a successful Inside Sales rep (and vice versa). Many sales reps are more suited to one type of role.
The skills needed for these jobs are unique. It’s difficult to prepare and coordinate an in-person meeting, to hold the floor, or manage a presentation on-site. On the flip side, it can also be challenging to create a relationship or develop rapport over the phone. Inside Sales reps must be able to understand a buyer’s intent without seeing their response, and they must be skilled at negotiating over the phone. Ask yourself which type of position aligns more with your skills, strengths and preferences.
2. Do you need the personal interaction of an office?
Some people are energized by the office environment. Inside-leaning sales reps need the competitiveness of the inside sales team to help drive their success. They also enjoy the dynamics of an office. They can work well with noise, and they learn best by working around people doing the same job.
On the other hand, Field-leaning sales reps prefer to learn on their own and at their pace. They may get easily distracted by the office noise and be less productive in that environment. Very importantly, they are able to work well without the external motivation of colleagues nearby.
3. Consider company location.
If you are not local to where your company is headquartered, you may be required to be in the field. Some companies will only hire local sales reps because they prefer an Inside Sales team. If you are applying for a position located in another city or state, make sure to note if you are willing to relocate. And if you are pursuing an Inside Sales position, consider the area where you will be working. What are the nearby amenities? What are the housing costs? Do you need to consider local schools?
4. Outside Sales positions require discipline.
Those who excel in Outside Sales are self-motivated, able to coordinate their own schedules, and don’t need as much team collaboration. Consider how you work – do you thrive when you are on your own, or do you find that your productivity decreases? All sales reps need to hold themselves accountable – but when thinking of inside sales vs outside sales, think of your ability to do this without daily oversight.
5. Outside Sales often requires extensive travel.
This can be one of the biggest positives, or negatives, of this role. Those who enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and navigating new places may be better suited to Outside Sales. This year, as travel increases, Field Sales positions will likely become more available.
If you are looking to make the change from Inside Sales to Outside Sales, or vice versa, remember that adjusting to a new role takes time. Many field reps struggle at first when moving to the inside, because the rapports they found they could build so easily in person may be more difficult to build over the phone. And many inside sales reps struggle to embrace the command needed to run in-person meetings.
It may be that your personality, preferences or skills are more aligned with one or the other – so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each type of position before you apply.
For more tips on landing the right B2B sales job for you, check out How to Find Your Dream Sales Job and Accelerate Your Career.