Inside-sales-outside-sales-pictureSo, you’ve decided that sales is the right career path, but you aren’t quite sure which sales job is right for you.  There are a few key distinctions between different types of sales jobs that you MUST know before considering a job offer.

Inside Sales

When people hear the term inside sales for the first time, they often picture working as a retail salesman at Best Buy; or as a telemarketer who gets paid to disrupt as many family dinners as possible. Feel free to let these awful images leave your head as inside sales is far from the two miserable jobs listed above.

Inside sales is simply a phone based business-to-business (B2B Sales) and/or business-to-consumer (B2C) sales job.  It will be your job to contact business prospects by phone and make a sale remotely.  This is different from telemarketing for a few reasons:

1)      The products being sold by an inside salesman are usually much more expensive than those sold by telemarketers.

2)      The inside sales selling cycle consists of multiple phone calls and conversations between the salesman and the company or consumer.  This is unlike telemarketing where they read off of a script and try to close the sale in one phone call.

3)      The inside salesman will most likely be selling to businesses, not calling people at home.

4)      Last but not least, an inside salesman will be making significantly more money than a telemarketer.  Unless, of course, nothing gets sold.

As an inside sales representative you can expect to:

Make a lot of Phone calls. Calling on prospects by phone will be your main task.  Expect to make around 50 phone calls per day minimum.

Work in a cubicle.  Unlike outside sales, you will be working from a cubicle for 8 hours per day.

Outside Sales

Outside sales is, more or less, just what it sounds like. Sales representatives are asked to drive around and go from business to business selling their products in person.  Outside sales today includes a lot of phone calls as well.  However, these phone calls are used to set-up in person appointments.  The sales representative would then go meet that prospect in person and try to close a deal face-to-face.

As an outside sales representative you can expect:

Freedom. Outside sales representatives are out of the office more than they are in the office.  Therefore you will not be in constant contact with your managers. A couple of meetings per week should be expected, but for the most part you are on your own to run your business the way you want to.

A large work load. Yes, you will have freedom, but that means there is more accountability.  You will have to continuously organize and plan so you can attack your prospects in the most effective and efficient ways.  It is truly like owning your own small business and it is up to you how much revenue you can bring in!

Expend a lot of energy. Outside sales representatives are always moving.  You will either be rushing from office to office, scrambling to follow up with customers, creating presentations, or turning in sales paperwork. You also have to learn to be “switched on” every time you walk into a business.  This simply means you must show excitement and energy to everybody you talk too.  Who would buy something from somebody who looks exhausted?

Both inside and outside sales are great options depending on your personality. Do you have the energy to move consistently throughout the day? Do you feel more comfortable talking to people in person or over the phone? Are you self-disciplined enough to create your own work schedule and hold yourself accountable? Would you rather be in an office all day or outside running around your town or city?

Consider the questions above when deciding whether inside or outside sales is better for you.

Compensation Models

Salary plus commission payment structures can also be good or bad depending on experience levels and the company that you are working for.  The commission that you receive per deal is a lot less when you are getting paid a base salary compared to if you are commission only.  The industry average is around 7 percent per sale, if you are on a salary plus commission structure.  The base salary at an entry level sales position is usually around $35,000-50,000 per year.

I would recommend this structure for any beginner sales representative.  It will give you a chance to learn how to be a successful salesman without the worry of possibly making $0 for the month. It is also nice for younger sales reps because you can learn to budget and save money with a consistent income.

Straight Commission payment structures can be good or bad depending on your experience and personality.  In a straight commission payment structure you will not receive a base salary or wage what-so-ever.  You will be compensated only on what you sell. However, when you do sell something you will get a higher percentage of that sale, typically around 30 percent.

If you are going into your first sales job and have no experience, we would not typically recommend working under a straight commission plan.  The ups and downs of this job could leave an inexperienced sales rep feeling incompetent and stressed out.

Now What?

Now that you understand the differences between sales jobs and their payment structures, it is time to get an interview. Check out our article on the different sales industries, our sample beginner sales resume, job hunting tips and information on getting through the sales interview process!

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