Is Inside Sales the same as Telemarketing?

telemarketerAs any new job hunter out of college will tell you, one of the most difficult things to determine when pursuing a sales career is what is the difference between Inside Sales and Telemarketing. Many job postings seem to use those words interchangeably and the job descriptions appear to be the same. Frankly, I don’t think even some employers even know the difference between both terms.

First, there definitely is a difference between Inside Sales and Telemarketing.

Telemarketing is a quick and dirty sale. You make tons of phone calls every day, do a quick sales pitch and see if the prospect will bite. No real sales techniques are used. No qualifying questions. No establishing rapport. No building relationships. Before the prospect can even get a word in, the telemarketer is blasting away, speaking a mile a minute in hopes you will listen before you hang up.

Telemarketers usually use scripts and are required to stick with them. There is no improvising. It’s simply a cold calling technique used to make a transactional sale. Very short sales cycle. You either get a yes or no answer. If it’s no, you move on. If it’s yes (which is rare), you then expand more on what you are selling, obtain the credit card information, thank the new customer, and move on.

No lead generation required on your part. All the leads are provided in a Customer Relationship Management  (CRM). If the phone number is bad, or if the contact is bad, you quickly move on to the next call.

telemarketerOn the other hand, inside sales require a more long-term and strategic approach to selling. You use all the basic sales techniques that you have been taught – asking qualifying questions, determining needs and problems, being an expert in your field, finding the right decision-maker, handling objections, asking trial questions, and closing the sale.

Inside sales require a lot more patience and discipline because the sales cycle can be long. You may be required to do some research before calling on prospects. You have to take good notes, schedule follow-up phone calls, and stay on top of your game.

While you may not make as many phone calls as a telemarketer, you still have to hit the phones. But besides making calls, you also need to send good emails and maybe even some direct marketing material. Also, unlike a telemarketer, you are required to update and correct your customer/prospect files in your CRM. That means not just correcting contact information, but entering good notes too.

Inside sales require a lot more thought and planning. You are usually working more closely with your sales manager and marketing team. Depending on what you are selling and the industry you are in, you may not have a large pipeline compared to a telemarketer. In fact, a telemarketer really doesn’t have a pipeline per se; instead, he just has an endless list of prospects he calls on based on time zone and geography.

So when seeking a new sales position, if you see the terms “telemarketing” and “inside sales”, you now know there is a difference. Just make sure your employer knows the difference when you go on a job interview.