Inside Sales is Eating the World by Steli Efti

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Did you know that there was a time in our recent history when inside sales didn’t exist?

It’s true. In the years before the explosion of the Internet, salespeople had no other choice but to head out on the road to meet each business owner and seek out any potential clients they could. The salesperson days were spent traveling 80% of the time, while only spending the remaining 20% of their time actually selling.

Then a giant leap in technology allowed ingenious sales departments everywhere to reach out and connect with their customer base in a whole new way. This innovation came in the form of a little something called the telephone, and it changed the sales game forever.

What the Telephone Really Meant to Sales

What this did was force an entire industry of professionals to divide their duties into what would be now considered “inside” sales and “outside” sales.

Instantly, you were able to pick up the phone and call a prospect, pitch them your idea, and make a sale without the limitation of your location. This expanded reach dramatically boosted not only sales but productivity as well.

Now salespeople everywhere were able to spend 80% of their time selling and only expend 20% of their time dialing their next lead.

So with all this new success, why didn’t outside sales immediately cease to exist?

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales

To answer that, we simply need to take a look at the limitations of the phone. For example, you were not able to relay a visual connection, social clues, or any type of body language through the phone. Plus, you were not able to create the same level of credibility that you can through personal rapport.

On the other hand, outside sales gave the salesperson a whole other set of rules to follow and had its own advantages. Selling in person allowed you to walk into where your customers were and get actual face time. Aside from being harder to ignore than a phone call, if you were physically standing in front of a potential client, you were harder to forget than just another phone call.

Fortunately, in 2013, the advantages of outside sales and the disadvantages of inside sales no longer exist. I predict that in the very near future, inside sales will dominate 99% of all business related sales.

What is next on the sales horizon?

So, what has changed that will cause the next shift? Simply put, it’s technology.

Looking again at the benefits of outside sales:

  • You are able to see your customers in person
  • Build an actual rapport with visual clues
  • See and observe their work environment and possibly learn more about them
  • By default get more time with your potential customers as face-to-face meetings tend to last about two to three times longer than phone calls.

When we used to talk about outside sales technology what we were really talking about was, the phone and it was limited in all these areas. Today, inside sales technology include a wide range of marketing and analytical tools that have been engineered to allow sales organizations to accomplish all of their outside sales goals and more.

Modern Inside Sales Technology:

  • Phone: Gives people the ability to communicate with others from around the world.
  • Email: Allows us to communicate asynchronously and with several benefits.
  • Web Conferencing: See and be seen. This technology allows you to demonstrate your products/services without physical limitations.
  • Social Media: Allows you to learn about your customers before you interact with them all while building a real rapport.

With the productivity and scale that modern inside sales offer, it has simply become irrational for companies to build a business that relies on people “knocking on physical doors” anymore.

The Proof is in the “Mega” Trends:

  • We now have global business marketplace.
  • Permission based sales that focus on inbound sales vs. cold calling are the norm.
  • Clients are now under more sensitive time frames. They don’t have time to meet for an hour and instead want to jump on a quick call or video chat, get a demo of your product/service from your website, ask your representative any relevant questions and move on with their day.

Of course there will always be people who will say that there is always a reason to go out and meet people in person and that’s true. It’s just that these cases will become more and more rare.


Post By: Steli Efti, Founder and CEO at Elastic Sales creators of

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