Defining Today’s Inside Selling Models

Dear Leaders,

Senior leadership attendees at the AA-ISP Executive Retreat in Pinehurst, NC this past October had a discussion around the naming of various selling models specific to outbound sales. Today’s blog post is the white paper which came as a result of Retreat attendees’ suggestion that the association author one.  Although some of these models may be called by different names or titles, the AA-ISP Advisory Board unanimously agreed on the definitions provided here.

White Paper

Inside Sales Models White Paper

Sales Model Definitions Specific To Outbound Inside Sales

The AA-ISP is an international association dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales. As a centralized and trusted resource the AA-ISP through its members and affiliates publishes research which is widely accepted by the inside selling community.
Most inside sales deployments will fit into one of the following three main models listed in this article.

Please note the following:

Roles and Compensation: There is a variety of roles and compensation structures deployed within each of these three models. It is not the intention of this publication to capture all variety of roles/comp in each model, rather to establish the key model descriptions at a higher, strategic level.
Blend of Models: Some organizations may opt to “blend” one or more of the following models into one role. Additionally, many organizations deploy more than one of the following models within their overall sales structure.
Channel/Distribution: Many organizations primary or secondary sales channel includes selling through distributors, resellers, VAR’s, etc. We have chosen not to call the Channel/Distributor a model but rather a role type. The Channel/Distribution role will therefore fit into one of the models below.
Business Development: This publication is specific to the role of Outbound Inside Sales and their common sales models. The growing role of Business Development which may fit organizationally under the “Inside Sales” umbrella is described in the glossary section below. The role of Business development is not a type of “model” in and of itself.

TEAM SELLING – This model includes an inside sales rep who is “teamed” or “partnered” with one or more traditional field-based reps. The inside based rep is typically chartered to help assist and/or supplement the field rep(s) with the goal of quota attainment. The role of the inside based rep may include one or more of the following: Prospecting, setting appointments, ongoing client/account management, customer support, assisting in certain aspects of the sales cycle, selling on their own to a specified market, company demographic, and/or product type and supporting the field rep, etc. Inside reps in a teamed model may travel on occasion to visit their field counterparts. Compensation plans vary, but it is typical to include measurement and incentive against achieving the aggregate quota of their teamed field rep(s). In some cases, the teamed inside rep will carry their own quota which is a subset of the field. The term “overlay” is often used to describe the fact that the inside rep carries a quota and is paid commission on all or part of the same quota(s) that their field counterpart(s) carry.

DISCRETE – The discrete model is simply where the inside rep has full quota and selling responsibility without any teaming or partnering with a field rep. The discrete model is deployed in a variety of ways. An example of this would be where a company has segmented its customer types such that the field reps own and sell to the larger enterprises, and the inside owns and sells to the small-medium space. Another example would be where the field reps has responsibility over the larger, more complex products and solutions and the inside rep handles the smaller, more transactional products. Yet another example is seen in many smaller to medium size SaaS companies which deploy only inside sales as their primary sales channel. Compensation plans are typically a percentage of sales or profits much like one would see in a field comp plan.

HYBRID – Relative to inside sales models, the term Hybrid is used to describe a mix between typical “inside based” virtual work and occasional to moderate travel for face to face meetings. Note here that the vast majority of Hybrid inside sales deployments would fall under a Discrete model, meaning they own the quota and selling without any field partnering. However, although not common, it would be possible for a company to deploy a Hybrid rep within a Team Selling model. This would simply mean there is a sharing of quota, but the inside rep has budget to travel as needed for face to face meetings. Many companies use the Hybrid approach to keep sales costs down (typically less travel costs and lower pay range as compared to field reps) while allowing inside based reps the ability to travel if needed to help close a deal or improve relationships with clients or prospects. The Hybrid rep gains all the benefits of a traditional inside-based role, with the added plus of being able to use face to face when required. Typical compensation structures for the Hybrid rep would fall under Discrete or Teamed above.

The actual roles within one of the above three models will vary depending on the goals and needs of the organization.  Listed below are some common roles and titles used.


Business Development Rep & Lead Development Rep – Typically calls on unqualified, warm and a wide variety of lead types with the goal of nurturing an opportunity, developing an opportunity, and/or scheduling a rep meeting or setting an appointment for a field or inside sales rep.
Account Manager – Typically assigned to a set of accounts or territory and is goaled on meeting a quota through new sales, repeat or renewal sales, up-selling and cross-selling. May provide some ongoing customer support.  “Farmer” is often used to describe this role.
Client Relationship Rep – Similar to Account Manager but often deployed on larger key accounts to act as “quarterback” within a Teamed model. May use field resources such as Sales Exec or Sales Engineer to assist as needed.
Account Executive/Sales Executive – Typically chartered with closing net new business to new customers and/or additional new business to an established set of accounts. “Hunter” is often used to describe this role. Is often deployed in a Discrete model but may also be in a Teamed model.
Renewal Rep / Retention Rep – Chartered with developing strong relationships with current customers for repeat and/or renewal sales. A common example is where an inside rep is deployed to renew service contract agreements on installed software.
Channel Rep/Channel Manager – A role where the inside rep “sells through” and/or supports a set of channel partners or distributors. May have some contact with the end-user, but typically sells to and through partners, distributors, and re-sellers.
Sales Engineer – Inside Based Sales Engineers are often utilized to support the technical needs of inside sales reps. Their role may include doing joint calls with customers who have more complex technical needs or where the solution requires more technical support, or configuration and proposal support.


Inbound Rep – The typical inbound rep answers incoming calls, may provide “live chat” and may also respond to incoming e-mails. Some roles include “selling” or closing sales, while others will provide support or pass leads off to inside or field sales for closure.
Customer Service Rep – Or “Client Success” Rep, typically provides customer service, technical support, or order processing via an inbound call.


Until next time, Good Selling!


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