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tips for getting inside sales and outside sales to work togetherInside sales and outside sales positions attract different types of sales people, and these different attitudes towards sales approaches and methods can make it harder for your inside sales and outside sales teams to work together. Still, with appropriate encouragement and a firm focus on what is best for your business, it is possible to inspire these teams to work together so that they collaborate in ways that can provide greater benefits to your total sales than can occur through either team functioning alone. These tips will help you reach the goal of seeing your inside sales and outside sales teams working as a collective team.

Define the Differences as Well as the Commonalities for Inside and Outside Sales

One of the major drivers of conflict between inside sales and outside sales is a lack of clarity on who is responsible for what, which can set up scenarios in which the sales people on these teams disagree over where the lines are drawn between territories, customer types, and even commissions owed. These lines are different for every organization, but it is to your business’s benefit to ensure that the roles for inside and outside sales are clear to avoid these conflicts to the greatest extent possible.

By the same token, your business should clarify the similarities between its inside and outside sales roles. By outlining shared responsibilities and goals, you can reinforce the idea that all teams within your business should be working together.

Identify the Most Effective Ways that Inside and Outside Sales Can Support One Another

Although fostering a team environment that incites inside and outside sales to work together is a step in the right direction, this environment alone usually will not have business results. In order to ensure that your sales teams are working together to reach business objectives, you must identify and share the ways in which inside and outside sales should be supporting one another. Depending on your industry and business model, this support might include:

  • Inside sales taking on greater numbers of lower value deals so that outside sales is enabled to pursue larger contracts
  • Inside and outside sales sharing contacts from within the same organizations to better coordinate in moving deals in either category forward
  • All sales reps committing to timely lead follow-up on leads generated by either team

Compensate to Reduce or Eliminate Conflicts

Compensation can be a delicate subject for any sales team, the more so when introduced to an environment in which inside and outside sales are working closely enough to know one another’s compensation structures. Any compensation package should be designed to push performance in the key behavior areas you want to see emphasized, which means that your inside and outside sales teams should be compensated differently for different activities. In general, successful inside and outside sales compensation plans tend to:

  • Use similar percentages of salary vs. commission for both inside and outside sales
  • Compensate more highly for new accounts across the sales teams
  • Provide comparable bonuses for achieved goals
  • Allow fair compensation for activities shared between the sales teams, such as when an account is handed off

Hold Regular Inter-team Sales Meetings for Inside and Outside Sales

Most organizations choose to have different sales managers for inside and outside sales teams. This move is typically more beneficial but it has one major drawback in that it can discourage inter-team sales meetings, as each sales management group is leading its own meetings on a regular basis. Yet if you want your inside and outside sales teams to work together, they should also learn and discuss business problems together on at least a semi-regular basis in a sales meeting setting. Urge the sales managers for these teams to work towards establishing a meeting schedule where inside and outside sales people can cover common ground. In this way you can further reinforce your strategies for encouraging inside and outside sales to work together.


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Matthew Cook

Matthew has over 20 years of sales and sales management experience. In addition to being the founder of SalesHub, he is the founder of SalesForce Search, which was #4 on Profit Magazine's Hot 50 list as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. When he’s not helping companies improve their revenue he trains and competes in half ironman distance triathlons to “relax”.

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