• Many emerging-growth organizations are using inside sales as a fast and agile way to accelerate revenue growth
  • Mature organizations are using inside sales as a cost-efficient way to continue and expand revenue growth
  • A sales leader should follow five essential steps to stand up the inside sales function

On my first backpacking adventure as an 11-year-old new Boy Scout, I took the Scout motto “Be prepared” literally. My backpack was full of every item I might conceivably need for the trip. After a few strenuous uphill miles along the Appalachian Trail, I learned the painful truth that carrying a backpack that was half my bodyweight was a bad idea. Fast-forward a few years and hundreds of miles. As an experienced Eagle Scout, I knew the advantages of lighting my load by every means possible — cutting the handle off my toothbrush and learning to eat with a spork — was the secret to traveling farther and faster while having a far more enjoyable experience.


Similarly, B2B sales leaders are continually looking for ways to increase revenue growth as quickly and efficiently as possible. An inside sales function lightens the load on the rest of the sales organization and, in an increasing number of scenarios, the inside selling motion matches how today’s digitally enabled buyers want to buy (see the brief “Trends in Sales Structure: The New Way to Design a Sales Team and Optimize Coverage”).

SiriusDecisions Command Center® data shows that 20.3% of B2B companies’ revenue currently comes from inside sales, and companies anticipate this percentage to rise over the next two years (see the brief “Inside vs. Field Sales: How to Optimize the Mix”). Sales leaders should follow the five essential steps to stand up a new inside sales function.

Step One: Align to Go-to-Market Segmentation

Work with marketing and sales operations to clearly define the go-to-market segmentation for the organization. Analyze the segments or sub-segments that can be viably covered by inside sales and match the way buyers in those segments want to buy. Work with marketing and teleprospecting to establish service-level agreements and set the contribution mix for demand generation for the market segment covered by the inside sales team.

Step Two: Establish the Organizational Structure and Leadership

There are three primary options for structuring an inside sales function in relation to the field sales teams:

  • Independent P&L, with a dedicated sales leader as the single point of accountability for the success of the function
  • Integrated into existing field sales teams reporting to existing field segment managers
  • Aligned to existing field sales teams and with a dedicated inside sales leader responsible for ensuring the talent management and sales execution processes are fully supported by the dedicated inside sales leadership

Step Three: Define the Role and the Competencies Required

Even today, the term “inside sales” is often vaguely defined. Clearly establish the definition and responsibilities of the quota-carrying inside sales organization to differentiate it from other tele- and digitally based roles such as sales development representatives and business development representatives. Define the roles (e.g. hunter, farmer, hybrid, account manager) and the competencies expected for each role.

Step Four: Choose a Location, and Select a Centralized or Distributed Team Structure

Inside sales organizations can be centralized in a low-cost location and managed by a dedicated inside sales management team. Alternatively, inside sales reps can be co-located with the field sales teams and managed by existing field sales management. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these models.

Step Five: Enable Inside (Digital) Sales Reps With the Appropriate Tech Stack

Investing in and deploying the optimal tech stack is a critical enabler to supporting the inside sales team. Although virtually all business development and sales functions can benefit from the productivity and sales effectiveness improvements sales technology platforms. However, the inside sales function gains the most benefit due to its digital-first engagement model.

What’s Next? How Can You Get Started?

SiriusDecisions clients can take the following actions:

  1. Review the detailed insights found in “Standing Up an Inside Sales Function” and the survey results in “Tracking the True Cost of Sales 2019.” (non-clients can download an overview here)
  2. Complete a sales benchmark and leverage additional insights for a specific peer set using the SiriusDecisions Command Center.
  3. Collaborate with SiriusDecisions analysts to further define the steps required to stand up an inside sales function in your organization.