Inside or Out?

A client asks, “I am hiring my first salesperson. How do I determine whether they should be an inside or outside sales representative?”

Outside or Field Sales Representatives (FSR’s) are a good choice for lower volume, higher price products or services ($100K or more) with longer sales cycles (90 days or more). A company with a concentration of customers in one geographic area may benefit from the FSR’s personal contact with those customers. However, having an FSR on the payroll is expensive and a challenge to manage unless they are based at the corporate headquarters.

Inside Sales Representatives (ISR’s) can be an appropriate choice for higher volume, lower price transactions ($100K or less) with shorter sales cycles (90 days or less). An ISR can cover an extensive territory and reach more than 100 prospects a week, costs much less than an FSR, and oversight is convenient because they are typically located at corporate headquarters.

For a business building a sales force from the ground up, I recommend starting out with an ISR whenever possible. They can build a customer base more quickly and economically than an FSR, and have easier access to staff members when they need assistance to get sales closed. For an FSR, it takes phone calls and/or e-mails back to headquarters to enlist help.

Many of my clients, concerned that their product or service can’t be sold successfully over the phone, are surprised to find that the ISR model is very effective for them. When they decide to increase the size of their sales staff, they choose to hire several additional ISR’s. Other clients, who want to add an FSR to their staff because they feel they need face-to face contact with some of their larger clients, find that starting out with an ISR made the hiring and managing of an FSR a little bit easier.