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The Ins and Outs

Answering the eternal question: Sell on the phone or sell in the field?

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This story appears in the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There are some long-held misconceptions about how inside and outside sales teams work. While some truths remain constant--inside teams that do all their selling over the phone are generally cheaper to run and easier to manage, while outside teams that work in the field establish the crucial personal link that allows a real glimpse into a prospect's business--succeeding in today's selling environment requires re-examining some popular selling mythology.

Myth #1: Inside sales teams can't close big-dollar deals. Jay Love's firm, eTapestry.com, an Indianapolis ASP for nonprofit organizations, has an inside sales team that's closed quarter-million-dollar deals without ever removing its collective earpiece. Love credits eTapestry.com's philosophy about inside sales for its ability to close such large deals over the phone. "We don't see inside salespeople as junior-level. Our inside people are our highest producers, and we treat them as consummate professionals," says Love, 47, whose inside team is made up of former outside sales pros. Giving due respect to these pros has paid off handsomely for eTapestry.com--2001 sales hit $1.5 million, and $3 million to $5 million is projected for 2002.

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