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Outside In: The Rise of the Inside Sales Team

08 February 2015

Inside sales professionals at high-tech companies will be generating an increasing percentage of total company sales over the next two years. That’s just one of the facts we confirmed in our recent survey-based research on inside sales.

Outside In E-book

Inside Sales Research Reveals Trends

Some interesting statistics from our study include:

  • in large tech companies today, inside sales makes up only 22% of headcount but 40% of these large companies plan to increase their inside sales headcount by 2016.
  • smaller high-tech companies and startups already generate 55% of sales from inside teams.
  • 50% of large companies and 95% of small companies surveyed classify inside sales reps as exempt from overtime


Inside sales teams use virtual selling skills – and the phone, e-mail, social media and a wide range of sales engagement and productivity tools – to connect with customers and prospects. The inside sales team typically does not travel, but there are some that go on the road for certain customers or opportunities. These teams are usually known as “hybrid” (combination of inside and field sales) sales.


Inside Sales Helps Grow and Launch Companies

In high-tech, inside sales is hardly new. In the mid to late 1980’s, I started up and led OracleDirect when Oracle was an emerging start-up and few believed complex products could be sold without a face-to-face visit. Oracle’s inside sales organization, which helped fuel the company’s early rapid growth, is now a thriving global multibillion-dollar sales force. Given our early focus on hiring high-potential talent, it is also one of the organizations that spawned some of today’s finest business leaders.

Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff is one of those leaders.
Marc’s early career experience as a top inside seller helps explain his launch of Salesforce.com with an inside sales model, described in his book, Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry  .

Inside Sales Works at All Sizes of Companies Across Industries
Many successful start-ups have followed this strategy, encouraged by their investors who expect inside or hybrid to drive revenue and market growth more effectively and profitably than traditional selling.

Larger companies are also expanding inside sales and other data and technology driven modern sales and marketing strategies to sell new products, reach new markets, and provide faster and more convenient service to prospects and customers.

Inside sales has become increasing more mainstream and proven in industries outside of technology, such as healthcare, financial services and education. Although our study focuses on best practices in high-tech, it reveals trends that can be applied in many businesses.

What the Rise of Inside Sales Means for Sales Leaders

As technology and other industries move more of their business toward inside sales models, sales leaders will have to rethink how they structure their organization and roles, determine job classifications and territories, recruit and motivate their sales forces, and provide the skills and tools to make them most productive and helpful to customers.

We’re making the executive summary of our survey findings available in a just-published e-book, which you can download here: The  e-book offers more insights about the survey results and provides a look into the future of inside sales.