What Is Inside Sales And How Does It Differ From Telemarketing?

The world of sales has been changing over the past few decades. With the growth of new software and technology, new types of sales processes have come into play. One of those “new” forms is inside sales, which, according to accounts such as this one by Salesloft, is growing 15 times faster than outside sales.

Inside sales predominantly take place on the phone and are sometimes treated as a slightly different form of telemarketing.

Since there can be a lot of confusion, in this article we will present a primer on what inside sales is and how it differs from traditional telesales. Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Inside Sales?
  2. Inside Sales vs Outside Sales – What’s the difference?
  3. Is Inside Sales just a different word for telemarketing?
  4. Inside Sales vs Telemarketing: The call script
  5. Inside Sales vs Telemarketing: The dialer and prospecting
  6. Current trends in Inside Sales
  7. Inside Sales best practices

What is inside sales?

The general definition of inside sales revolves around the act of identifying, nurturing and converting leads remotely.

Ken Krogue noted that in the early 2000s, inside sales became the term used to differentiate the practice from outsides sales. Later on, we will dive deeper to explain the main differences between the two.

Since then, inside sales has become a popular sales mode. Buyers became more comfortable and used to making remote contacts, negotiations, and purchases. This shift was possible due to the rise of consumer technology and the wide array of new tools related to the development of the Internet.

The recent guide on outside sales made by the team at Spotio highlights that although the outside sales is still a big driver in achieving sales quotas, the inside sales is being adopted more and more. Yet, as the author highlights a top performing sales strategy will include elements of both inside and outside sales strategy.

So the remote model of inside sales fits the market perfectly. It also elevates the role of the people responding to prospects’ inquiries. They rise to the level that blurs the line between sales and customer service.

Inside Sales vs Outside Sales – What’s the difference?

The main and the most obvious difference between Inside Sales and Outside Sales is where does the sale take place.

Inside Sales reps are working in-house contacting their leads via various means of communication. Some of them are phone, VoIP solutions, video calls, and emails.

On the contrary, Outside Sales reps are constantly on-the-go. They’re busy attending meetings, having dinners with prospects or doing a presentation of the product.


Another key difference is the software. Inside Sales reps rely on CRM – customer relationship management tool that helps them better operate on their efforts. While Outside Sales reps also use the software to, e.g. keep the information about the leads in one place, they don’t rely on it so heavily.

Inside Sales reps do most of their work using a CRM. They keep all of the crucial updates on the leads and prospect, conduct demos, send messages, do the video calls, make cold calls all using the same CRM.

On top of that, such software helps them keep track of the sales process which ensures they don’t forget about key touch points.

Yet, sometimes a CRM is not the right choice (or at least not an only choice), depending on the type of your business.

Inside Sales teams often rely solely on calling and making calls is their gateway to acquiring a new client. In such a case an inside sales team chooses a more specific, calling software which offers more solutions in regards to making, taking, and managing calls.

Such software works as a calling-based CRM. Sales reps can make and take calls, manage their contacts, organize them in regards to specific actions, and sort the leads in a way that suits them.

Oftentimes a calling app, such as CrazyCall offers additional features on top of the standard ones that let them simply make and take calls. In the best solutions inside sales reps can make use of call recordings, call scripts, call transferring, call conferences, and sometimes even a lead generation tool!


“The great thing about inside sales reps is that they are usually much more productive and competent than outside sales reps and telemarketers.” – Alex Altuhov, General Manager at HandyKith

The third difference between Inside Sales and Outside Sales – the one that employers are mostly about – is the costs.

Inside Sales tend to be much cheaper when compared to Outside Sales. It’s due to the fact that all that an Inside Sales team needs is the place in the office, a PC or a laptop and the software they use.

On the other side, we have an outside sales rep. He has to travel long distances, have meetings in fancy restaurants, and invite prominent prospects to golf courses. The costs add up and that’s not all.

The other aspect of costs is the salary. On the average, an Inside Sales rep gets paid $5000 less than an Outside Sales rep and the difference gets bigger as the salary grows.


The undeniable difference between Inside and Outside Sales is the scalability.

No matter how good of a salesman someone is, he won’t be able to reach as many leads as the inside sales reps who use modern means of communication.

Also, it would take a long time for an Outside Sales rep to get into contact with a prospect from another continent. The same thing can be achieved by an Inside Sales rep in a matter of seconds.

Thus, it’s important for business owners to consider this fact up-front between they expand their sales teams. An Outside Sales team can be very effective if your sales efforts are kept inside a certain area. Yet, if you want to reach a broader audience investing in a skilled and well-trained Inside Sales team might be a better choice.

Is inside sales just a different word for telemarketing?

Inside sales is a phone-based role, although it also relies heavily on web conferencing or screen-sharing tools. Yet, it’s the voice conversation that is still one of the most valuable interactions that a sales professional can have with a prospect or existing customer.

Two important calls for inside sales are the cold call to make an appointment and the follow-up call to conduct a pitch or close a deal.

According to Ayesha Khan, once you get someone on the phone your approach needs to be tailored to match that of the person on the other end of the line. That’s where inside sales dramatically diverge from what is understood as telemarketing.

Let us now focus on exactly what this difference means.

Inside Sales vs Telemarketing: The call script

As Ken Krogue writes, telemarketing is a scripted, single-call close, usually targeting business-to-consumer (B2C) sales.

In inside sales, you may read from or generally follow a script. Yet, it has to be very well thought-out in advance and customized for the needs of each account. You certainly might go beyond the limits of what your script may include.

A script will certainly help you to keep your conversation organized. Thus, you can hit all the key points without having to worry about what you need to say next. But every inside sales conversation has a section where you engage the client through questions. In that part you can make the process your own, adapting it to how you sell and perform best.

“Inside salespeople are often highly trained people who usually don’t rely on a full script to sell but will use different focused topics to achieve their goal.” – Igor Gramyko, owner of Highwater Standard

Inside Sales vs Telemarketing: The dialer and prospecting

“In my eyes, the difference between inside sales and telemarketing is a simple one. Inside sales reps are calling for a specific reason, mainly based on your professional job title and responsibilities. We are calling to see if our tool, platform, or event can help the prospect.” – Alex Leventis, Sr Business Development at Kenna Security

Inside sales is very different from what Krogue describes as the “phone drone”. Phone drone refers to following an identical script with each prospect who answers your call. Apart from that, telemarketing traditionally uses predictive dialer software, which enables dialing multiple numbers at the same time. As practical as predictive solutions may seem, they also have several major drawbacks. Also, let’s not forget that they are also associated with the stigma of abandoned calls. What’s more, predictive dialers are subject to strict regulations in certain regions of the world.

On the other hand, inside sales reps usually deploy “power dialing” technology. It reduces your idle time, but, with proper settings, can also leave enough space and time before and after each call. This can be used for preparation and proper wrap-up.

Power dialing is the type of dialer deployed by the CrazyCall app. It is a great solution for inside sales teams, especially if integrated with popular CRM solutions through Zapier.

This leads us to yet another difference between inside sales and telemarketing.

That difference is the process of prospecting and the subsequent creation of contact databases. Businesses operating in the telemarketing model often rely on purchased lists of contacts. That’s what causes the randomness of calls with agents trying hard to sell us stuff when we least need it.

“Qualify quickly and if they’re a fit, you’ll know. If they’re not, you’ll know.” – Gennady Litvin, Executive Associate at Moshes Law

On the contrary, no inside sales organization places such lists at the center of its prospecting strategy. Instead, inside sales reps find solid, appropriate prospects by using technology.

As you can read in the g2crowd’s sales statistic roundup 91 percent of North American firms with 10 or more employees use a CRM or other social selling and intelligence tools. They perform internet searches, seek referrals, and research those prospects before reaching out. Also, they use a qualification process far more advanced than if their prospect had only a telephone number they could call.

So in other words, inside sales reps focus on how they can help their prospect’s business. On the other hand, in telemarketing, there isn’t much space for that type of interaction.

“The ROI and the conversion rates for inside salespeople versus outside sales people or telemarketers is much higher considering the fact that you’re now talking to someone who is calling you instead of you calling them.” – Tim Absalikov, Co-founder and CEO of Lasting Trend

Current Trends in Inside Sales

A gamified process of training

Training is an inherent part of the work of every sales rep. Yet, with the development of new technologies and methods, sales coaches can conduct the whole process in a much more effective way.

Gamification is one of the methods that sales coaches and sales executives use in order to motivate their peers to hit better results. Making a process of training feel more like a challenge makes sales reps much more likely to actually care about hitting a goal.

You can also apply gamification to everyday work. This should make every process feel like a completion-worthy challenge.

Deployment of Smarketing

Smarketing is the term used to describe the alignment between Sales and Marketing. Nowadays, it is more than crucial to bring both the sales and marketing teams together. This way they can cooperate for the better good of the company.

In the past, salespeople used to sell the product that a company handed them. The same scheme applied to marketers, with the exception of that they had to market the product, not sell it. Today, every team, no matter, if it is the one taking care of the marketing or selling, takes part in the process of developing the product.

That’s also why they should work together, as for how the product will be built affects how it is going to be advertised and sold.

We have to remember that the job of the marketer is to – at least some aspect of it – hand the consumer to the sales team. To make the whole process more efficient and effective, and to help your Inside Sales team perform better make sure to apply the Smarketing.

Switch to Account-Based Selling

Account-Based selling applies for the B2B sales and can be extremely effective when applied by your Inside Sales team.

The difference between the standard approach and the account-based one is in a way a sales reps perceive the company that he tries to sell to. In a traditional model, a company is treated as the individual that a sales rep has to get through to get to the decision maker.

The account-based approach takes on the company as a whole, not as the single decision maker. Thus it opts to create a sales process adjusted to all of the steps that usually take place in B2B sales.

Using such an approach Inside Sales reps can better communicate with the companies they target. This can also speed up the process of getting through decision makers.

Best Inside Sales Practices

Inside Sales grow at a rapid pace, thus using the most up-to-date practices and techniques can help you build a better-working Inside Sales team. Plus, because of how new Inside Sales is, most companies rely on the trial-and-error technique, so using best practices can get you ahead of them.

Hire the right people

This practice seems to be obvious but realizing how much more does the process of re-hiring cost compared to a successful hire makes it even more worthy to follow. It is estimated that having to lose an employee and take on a new hire can take as long as six months and can cost a company 200% of the employee’s annual pay.

When it comes to building an Inside Sales team it is important to hire people who think globally. Also, such a sales rep should have no issues with connecting with people from all around the world and be proficient in operating modern-type software.

Put the work into the hiring process and get the things going from the get-go.

Keep training

Implement training in the work of your Inside Sales reps.

It has been proven that engaging training can help keep your sales reps motivated and more eager to hit the next goals.

Also, training your sales reps is a win-win situation for both the company and sales reps. Yet, remember not to do training the old way. Use modern techniques, implement gamification, and try to make it as practical as it can be.

You can also make use of interactive content such as webinars, training videos, and courses. Most of such content is free and can greatly benefit the sales reps.

Use the right tools

“Implement AI for Inside Sales as soon as possible” –  Cristian Rennella, CEO & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato

Inside Sales reps heavily rely on the software they use. In most cases, it will be some bulky CRM capable of managing all of the inside sales rep’s efforts.

Depending on how many features such a CRM offers, your sales reps will be able to use them to leverage the sales process. Thus, make sure that software you choose doesn’t lack any core features and offers plenty of handy solutions that can benefit your Inside Sales reps.

Also, learning a CRM takes some time plus, the data you put into such a CRM are kept inside the software. If you decide to move to the other CRM your sales reps will have to learn the software from the beginning and you’ll have to deal with the data migration.

Besides the CRM, you should equip your inside sales team with a proper calling app.

Thanks to such a solution they’ll be able not only to make and take calls which, although sounding simple, is a cornerstone of every sales team but also to manage all of the leads and prospects inside that application.

Best calling solutions will also equip your sales reps with additional tools which will help them boost their efficiency and adjust the process of closing leads to make it more effective. Some of such features are:

  • Call recordings
  • Calling scripts
  • Call transferring
  • Call conferences
  • Virtual phone numbers
  • Click-to-Call solutions
  • Reports

The best calling apps, such as CrazyCall also offer their own, unique features such as Lead Generation Tool which not makes it even easier for businesses to effortlessly collect new leads.

Thus, make sure you get your inside sales reps exactly what they need, so they can do their job without any additional hustle.

Just like with the hiring process – put the work up-front so you don’t have to fix your own mistakes later on.

Wrapping things up: inside sales vs. telemarketing

Although both inside sales and telemarketing are done remotely and rely on voice calling, they differ in almost every aspect. From scripting and prospecting to a choice of dialing technology. We can also add the process of customizing communications based on data gathering.

Often seen as intrusive, people dislike traditional telemarketing for a reason. Cold calling numerous people who have no obvious need for a product and delivering a scripted speech can be annoying and counterproductive at the same time. Telemarketing reps usually just follow the script and are limited in their ability to answer questions and truly help their leads.

Inside sales, on the other hand, can bring real value to the consumer and the business if done with proper research and careful customization. Sales professionals learn their offerings inside out and can become trusted consultants for their prospects and clients.

Which sales model do you follow in your company? Share your comments below!

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