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What Is an Inside Sales Rep? What Does an Inside Sales Rep Do? A Day in the Life

By February 17th, 2023Inside Sales, Insights
Inside sales rep on video call

The sales landscape is changing and B2B firms across the globe are moving toward a remote process. And for good reason.

Embracing the right mindset for inside sales is about one big realization. Things that used to be done out in the field can now be done online, entirely remotely. Nothing embodies this more than the role of the inside sales professional.

This latest article will tell you everything you need to know about inside sales reps. We’ll break down who they are, what they do, why they’re used, and what an average day for them looks like as well.

What is an Inside Sales Rep?

On the surface, the inside sales rep’s core objectives align with the same goals as any traditional sales role. They identify new markets, pitch to prospective customers and nurture leads.

The difference is, inside sales reps don’t meet potential customers face-to-face like outside sales reps. Instead, they identify and nurture leads through a more in-house approach. These reps use phone, emails, Zoom and live chat to interact with buyers more often. This has a number of key benefits.

Faster Lead Response

More Accounts On-the-Go

More Time Spent Selling

Further Reach

We know what you’re thinking. How can you replicate the same sales outcomes without in-person interaction?

The inside sales representative role isn’t designed to reproduce the exact same sales cycles as a field approach. Instead, it’s designed to bring it up to speed with our knowledge of the modern buyer.

With the development of Web 2.0, universal buyer habits are changing. The 21st-century buyer is far more digital-savvy than those that came before. Highly accessible, on-demand services like Amazon have become an ingrained part of our lived experience. And there’s a natural expectation for this model to work seamlessly across the B2B market as well.

So it’s within this expectation that the inside sales rep role thrives. It offers a constant resource for prospective buyer engagement and lead nurturing. But without the demands of physically leaving the office. This reduces the cost of customer acquisition by a staggering 40 – 90%.

Of the 5.7 million professional sellers in the United States, 45.5% are inside sales reps. This is only an estimate – the actual figure is likely to be much larger. The reality is the value of in-person social selling is dwindling. Buyers are far more comfortable being sold to remotely. The authentic, face-to-face sales experience is being phased out for more on-demand methods of engagement.

That’s not to say the personal touch isn’t valued by modern buyers. In the past inside sales reps were limited to cold calling and emailing. Whereas today they can close deals through a range of creative and engaging outreach approaches. This lets SDRs improve lead engagement and hold more intelligent conversations based on real-time data.

What does an Inside Sales Rep do?

The main duty of an inside sales rep is to sell products and services remotely. So it’s their job to seek new clients, understand customer needs, build effective sales pitches, and generate new leads.

Inside sales reps carry out their function entirely remotely. That means taking incoming sales calls and turning cold leads into new clients from their desks. There are two main approaches to inside sales. These are referred to as: “inbound” and “outbound”.

As the name would suggest, inbound sales means sales made through incoming enquries. These are often prospective clients that already know what your company offers. On the other hand, outbound sales involves finding new customers through cold outreach. They will draw on mailing lists and directories as well as other ways of finding new clients.

In the modern age of sales, there’s no limit to how inside sales reps reach out to their prospects. Or ways to engage them once connected. However, there are a few core essentials in every rep’s toolkit:

Cold Emailing

The cold email is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to inside sales. It refers to the first email that is sent to a prospect to gain favor, sales, opportunity or other things that benefit both parties.

Video Prospecting

Video prospecting is one of the most creative ways an inside sales rep can use to reach out to a potential client. Through video, a rep can grab their lead’s focus and deliver their sales messaging in a dynamic format.

Cold Calling

We’ve all heard of cold calling. In fact, you may be surprised to hear that it even still exists! But the numbers don’t lie: 82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with an inside sales rep after an initial cold call.

Virtual Meetings

Yes, we’re talking about Zoom again. Video meetings give inside sales reps the chance to showcase more personal quality and character. And to put a face behind the company name. This is essential in connecting with a lead on a human level.

Although outreach makes up a core part of the inside sales process, it isn’t the be-all and end-all of the job. Inside sales reps play a critical role across the whole sales funnel.

To make effective sales pitches, inside sales reps thoroughly research potential leads. This means learning pain-points, common ground, revenue, annual growth and – of course – the needs of the business.

Thankfully, this research process means that reps have a great deal of expertise to draw from when pitching to a prospect. This lets them position their offering as an industry-leading solution. And they can establish this through insider knowledge of the company decision-maker.

Put simply, remote sales make the process of researching and informed-selling more accessible. As a result, inside sales reps are expected to have greater pliancy in their workload. Reps will often spin a number of plates at once and switch their focus from one sales funnel stage to another with ease. By doing this, the inside sales rep can adjust when a lead falls through the cracks and move to the next in the pipeline.

In the following section, we’ll hear from Harte Hanks inside sales rep, Amber Frazzano. She’ll go into the inner workings of her day-to-day and her top-tips for surfing inside sales’ highs and lows.

As an SDR, it’s simple to write out a schedule, with the best of intentions to adhere to it.

But as a realist, I know that the best laid plans fall through. For instance, here is a breakdown of my standard day:


Amber continued “Sounds like the ideal day, right? The chances of a day like this happening are close to zero.

I make calls throughout the day based on time zones, buyer persona, experience, and a lot of guessing. Naturally, if you’re calling VPs and Directors, most of the time you’ll leave voicemails or speak with gatekeepers. In the rare case that someone does answer and wants to talk, it can go on longer than expected. 9 times out of 10 when someone does answer, you’ll be caught off guard because you were getting ready to leave the 19th voicemail in a row.

An SDR’s day is full of repetition and rejection. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to scheduling. Therefore, we have to look for ways to maximize our time and efforts in each category. One way to do this is prospecting. This is one of the most important, yet frustrating, activities for an SDR. When lead lists are provided, we tend to lose the “story”.

I’ve found that putting the work in upfront helps a ton. Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo I can save my notes about the prospect and their company and refer to it each time I go to contact them. These platforms have suggestions that will help you build your prospect lists more efficiently. This helps me remember my “why”. As in, “why am I reaching out and what do I think we might be able to do for them?”

Also, I can create multiple custom-built lists where I will have a daily delivery of new prospects that meet my specs. I do this by searching similar personas and building and setting search alerts in Sales Navigator as well.

Spending time connecting with my prospects in a natural way should be priority number one. The old standard of emails and hard-script cold calls just don’t work anymore. Each prospect has a unique need – and it’s up to me to spot the possibilities.

My advice? Variety. Plan tasks at varying times for different days of the week. But most importantly, make sure you leave room to learn and engage in ways that aren’t forced or scripted. “People do business with people they like” is the old saying. “People do business with people they trust” is the new one. Feeling natural and connecting to prospects aren’t booked into an SDR’s day, but they ought to be priority #1.

Forge links, make your daily tasks a priority, and always leave room for improvement. And lunch. Don’t forget to leave room for lunch.”

Final Thoughts

In this article, we’ve pulled back the cover on the inside sales rep role. We’ve also highlighted what this role brings to a sales team and how it aligns with the needs of the modern buyer.

In a nutshell, the position of inside sales rep has fast become a crucial role in the current sales landscape. It transforms the way in which we think about remote sales.

In short, there’s no standard “day in the life” of an inside sales rep. The role requires patience, persistence, on-demand creative thinking, and a huge number of phone calls. Sales get made when approaches are tactical, researched, well-informed and tailored to suit. Even then the response can be variable. But those with the tenacity to push on will reap the rewards.

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