Skillset differences between Inside and Outside sales reps

What are the most fundamental differences in the skillsets between inside and outside sales people?

For me, one of the biggest differences is the ability to build a relationship based on trust. Outside salespeople have it easier here, as they communicate face-to-face with their prospects and clients, whereas inside sales reps usually have to achieve that over the phone/via email.

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I think that generally, successful outside sales people tend to be extremely good at managing their time and schedule as well as be able to keep a smiling and positive attitude, even in moments when they don’t feel this way.


Let me preface that I know a lot of industries are different, however in my industry I believe you can be great at both positions with a variety of skillsets and personalities.

If I had to pick two I would say structure and discipline. If you lack discipline or prefer structure in your job and work place then inside sales in most likely a better fit. You also need to genuinely like people. If you do not enjoy talking to people then sales in general is a bad idea. I have seen several great inside sales rep transition to being even better outside reps. I have also see middle of the pack inside reps become top outside sale reps.

However, above all else communication is the greatest skillset in sales. Just do what you say you are going to do. If you promise your customer the moon they will expect the moon. Be realistic with your customer’s expectations and genuinely care for them.

If you proactively communicate and care for your customer you can be successful in any kind of sales position.

Just my two cents.



Inside salespeople spend way more time in the office and there are actually more tech solutions targeting them to help them work more efficiently. This means that they can (and usually have to) take care of a bigger volume of administrative and prospecting tasks. Inside sales reps can also talk to more leads and customers in a day since they just need to call or email them, while outside sales reps have to account for the driving time in between meetings, which will take up a lot of their time. I started in inside sales after college but after a couple years I needed a change of scenery and got tired of being in an office all day. Switching to outside sales was the perfect move for me. I just enjoy the face-to-face interaction with customers much more than just talking over phone and email.


During my 20 years at door-to-door cold calling, I found the differences are linked to the sense of security.

In cold-calling you are not micromanaged. Expectations are usually lower than in-house selling where management can watch you. You can take a break anytime and for any reason. You are free to work as hard or soft as you want and earn what you want. After all, you are no cost to the company and when meeting prospects you become your own boss. However, there is no security with no guaranteed paycheck and no one to advise you while in the field.

In house sales offers the very opposite. Usually there is a quota that offers expectations and sets boundaries. Management is close by for advice and co-workers are there to lean on when business slows. When sales are down, management tends not to “ride” their sales staff, reduces the pressure through empathy. You are usually guaranteed a draw and know that at least your important bills will get paid. You can always ask for help from co-workers.

These are two very different selling styles with different marketing techniques. There are few who can do both well and enjoy themselves. Over 90% of those who enter sales for the first time leave within months often for this very reason: those who want the freedom, will not find it through in house selling and those who demand security will not find it in outside sales.

This distinction is never made and both industries continuously lose good sales people for no real reason except for the lack of awareness.


@AntonArtaud I had never looked at the pros and cons of inside and outside sales the way that you just explained it. Thank you for your input! It really put the two into perspective for me!

You are more than welcome.

There is a great deal in sales training that lacks true depth. Unfortunately, this approach becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. They don’t spend effective time training because trainees leave and trainees leave because they were not provided effective training.

Sales training focuses on what “to do” when they need to focus what “to be” while doing.