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what is inside sales

What Is Inside Sales?

Just what Is Inside Sales? 

It’s the sales model that is fast becoming the dominant sales model for businesses. It is predominantly found in B2B, tech, SaaS, and a variety of B2C industries where companies are selling high-ticket items. In a nutshell, inside sales is sales that is handled over phone and email. But contrary to telemarketers, inside sales professionals are highly skilled and knowledgeable about the products they are selling.

The change from an outside sales model, with salespeople making face to face sales calls with prospective customers and current clients, to an inside sales model, where the salespeople work independently and are directly responsible for closing business, working primarily by phone and email, is significant. According to a survey done by the Harvard Business Review of 100 vice presidents of sales at leading tech companies, 46% percent of study participants reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model over the past two years.

What Is Inside Sales: History

The switch to inside sales is so pervasive that it is largely starting to merge with “outside sales”. In fact, most salespeople who would still consider themselves to be in outside sales will probably admit that they are in their office or at their desk in front of their computer and on their phone most of the time. It is quickly becoming the case that inside sales is actually just….sales.

The term “inside sales” first came about in the 1980s as a way to differentiate the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices from the quick, purely volume based sales techniques of telemarketers. As it developed, the term later started to be used as a way to differentiate inside sales from traditional face-to-face sales where salespeople went to the client’s location of business to engage in the sales process, i.e. outside sales.

As technology advanced, the cheaper cost of inside sales vs outside sales led to the former’s outpacing of the latter. Today, the combination of social media, websites, email, texting, video conferencing, and cellphones have created a situation conducive to inside sales that was scarcely possible only 15 years ago. Nowadays, many (if not most) companies use either a fully remote inside sales system or a hybrid system composed of reps calling from their company’s home office, then traveling occasionally to client locations.

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Inside Sales for Real Estate

One of these industries where inside sales is growing at a rapid pace is real estate. Because the nature of real estate—at least for the moment—requires physical, face-to-face meetings between real estate “outside” agents and home sellers and buyers, a hybrid inside and outside sales system has developed.

Inside sales for real estate generally involves a highly skilled salesperson called an ISA (inside sales agent) who is both comfortable and productive spending 80-90% of their time on the phone. They tackle all incoming leads and are responsible for all the follow-up, lead-qualifying, and scrubbing. Typically, a real estate ISA handles the following:

  • Prospecting for new leads
  • Servicing inbound leads from sign calls and other internet sources
  • Converting leads to appointments for a team’s sales agents
  • Outbound ISAs generate new leads by prospecting for FSBOs, expired listings, just listed/sold, COI, past clients, geographic farms, etc.
  • Inbound ISAs respond to incoming leads from internet sources and sign calls and nurture them into qualified appointments.

Real estate inside sales agents are the first point of contact with leads, and they generally take the lead through the home buying or selling process, gathering key information and making sure they are a high quality lead. If the ISA feels the lead checks out, then they set an appointment with them to meet the outside agent, who receives all the info from the inside sales agent and takes the client through the rest of the process.

Inside sales for real estate teams means that everyone is more specialized in their roles and can focus on what they are good at. The inside sales agents are skilled at having effective and persuasive sales conversations over the phone, while the outside agents are highly skilled at actually buying and selling homes for their clients. Allowing people to focus on where they are strongest means that teams are much more effective and productive.

What Is Inside Sales? The Future of Real Estate

Inside sales is the future of sales. As technology gets more and more advanced, the remaining small role that outside sales still has will likely evaporate completely. Video and meeting software, as well as the ability to communicate essentially from anywhere in world, means that physically meeting has lost much of its value for many industries.

The real estate industry is no different. The cheaper cost of doing things remotely coupled with value of further specialization of team members brings huge returns. In fact, real estate teams which utilize ISAs have found the income they produce to be at least five times the cost of employing them, amounting to a 5 to 1 return on investment.

That level of return is something that all teams should be able to get on board with.

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