Inside Sales Representative: Career Outlook 2022

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover the inside sales representative salary and career outlook, pick up some tips for success in the job, and learn how to pursue this career.

[Featured image] A female, wearing a dark jacket and orange top, is sitting in front of her desktop, connecting with a potential customer as an inside sales representative.

If you’re considering a career as an inside sales representative, it helps to know more about the position. Learn about the job descriptions, work duties, and skills that might benefit you along the way. Knowing where you would work, how much money you can earn, and how to become an inside sales representative is also important. Find the answers to many questions you might have in this guide. 

Inside sales representative job description

Unlike an outside sales representative who travels to meet with potential customers face-to-face, an inside sales representative does all their selling within an office. As an inside sales rep, you might make your sales by phone, email, or video chat. Once you make a sale, you'll be responsible for maintaining a positive relationship with your customer. These relationships are important since your earnings may be based on commission. 

Duties and responsibilities of an inside sales representative 

Knowing the duties and responsibilities of this role can help you decide if you want to pursue this career. Here are some examples of potential work tasks:  

  • Find new customers by following up on leads or making cold calls

  • Conduct research on potential customers 

  • Address customer questions and concerns

  • Use communication and negotiation skills to close sales

  • Achieve sales quotas

  • Maintain customer database and sales records

  • Communicate regularly with marketing partners

  • Stay informed about updates to products or services

Skills that benefit an inside sales representative

As an inside sales representative, you'll benefit from several skills. Mastering these skills may help boost your success on the job. One example of a skill that benefits people in sales is active listening. When you're on the phone, you can show you're listening actively by not interrupting, asking questions, and repeating what the customer says. Additional examples of useful skills include:

  • An ability to communicate well in writing and over the phone

  • An ability to work well alone or as part of a team

  • A firm grasp of any software your company uses

  • An ability to work well under pressure

  • Good time management skills

  • Good organizational skills

  • Good research skills

Where can inside sales representatives work? 

The environment you work in depends on where you're employed. At some companies, you'll have your own office or cubicle. In others, you'll have an open space with several desks, resembling a call center. Some companies may allow their sales reps to work from home. No matter which workspace you have, you'll need two key components: a phone and a computer. 

Inside sales representative salary and job outlook 

As of July 2022, the average annual salary for an inside sales representative in the US is $57,567 per year. With additional pay in cash bonuses, profit sharing, and extra commission, this amount could increase up to $84,386 per year [1]. 

In general, sales jobs are projected to show little or no change from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a rate slower than the national average [2]. However, there will always be jobs for sales reps in the wholesale and service sectors as these businesses rely on a robust customer base. 

Tips for success as an inside sales representative

Depending on your product or service, inside sales can be competitive. You might gain an edge on other sales reps by taking advantage of a few tips:

Research potential customers before calling.

Whether you're following up on a lead or making a cold call, it's a good idea to research your customer in advance. Good sources for research include company websites, professional social media profiles, press releases, and sometimes just searching the person's name. Information you may want to collect includes:

  • Demographics like age, gender, place of residence, employment, and education

  • The person's needs in terms of your products or services

  • Past use of products or services similar to what you're selling

Gathering this information helps you personalize your sales message. When you connect with potential customers on a personal level, you're more likely to make a sale. 

Know your product or service.

There's no better way to gain a potential customer's trust than to know your product or service inside and out. Ways to learn about what you're selling include:

  • Getting your own experience using the product or service

  • Reading company literature like pamphlets and brochures

  • Exploring your company's website

  • Checking customer feedback

  • Asking other sales reps or managers questions 

Establish good communication with the marketing team. 

Sales and marketing teams share a common goal. They both want to increase sales. When sales and marketing are on the same page, attaining the goal becomes easier. To establish good communication with marketing personnel try these strategies:

  • Ask for a meeting where both departments can sit down and identify the company's ideal customer. 

  • Create projects that require teamwork between departments, like creating new ways to address customer needs.

  • Have weekly meetings to discuss new ideas, updates, and challenges.

  • Ask fellow workers in sales and marketing to provide feedback on ways to communicate better.

Leverage technology. 

When it comes to selling goods or services, technology plays a key role. For instance, almost every sales representative understands the importance of customer relationship management (CRM) software. It allows companies to keep all data about clients in one central location, including demographic details, contacts, account information, social profiles, and customer feedback. This improves efficiency, communication, and collaboration across various company departments. Additional technology that help boost company sales include sales prospecting software and calling and tracking software. 

How to become an inside sales representative

Knowing what it takes to become an inside sales rep can help you decide if this is the career for you. Here are some steps you can take to help realize this goal.  

Earn your bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. 

Although some jobs in inside sales require a high school diploma or the equivalent, you can make yourself stand out from other job candidates with a bachelor's degree. Good majors for an inside sales rep position include business administration, marketing, or communications. You can earn a bachelor's degree from a local college or university, and many have online programs if you want to study from home or learn at your own pace. 

Enhance your skills through work experience.

Work experience in other areas can help enhance your skills for an inside sales rep position. You can get work experience before entering college, during college, or after you graduate. Some examples of jobs that will boost your skill set include: 

  • Cashier

  • Customer service representative

  • Product promoter

  • Retail salesperson

  • Travel agent

Consider classes and certifications.

Certifications can help boost your chances of getting any job. There are specialized courses that offer a certificate of completion at the end. For inside sales reps, one popular certification is the CISP (Certified Inside Sales Professional) course offered by AA-ISP (the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals). Designed for sales reps just starting out or a few years into their careers this course includes 10 informative modules and ends with a role-play exam featuring a mock sales call. Consider classes in sales software or public speaking clubs like Toastmasters for more training that may boost your selling ability. 

Create an effective resume. 

When searching for a job, your resume can help you stand out from the other candidates. To create an effective resume, follow a few smart strategies:

  • Include education and work experience (last five to 10 years)

  • List schools and jobs in chronological order 

  • Highlight skills relevant to a sales job (proficiency with sales software, time management, organization, etc.)

  • Use action words when describing accomplishments like "achieved," "organized," or "oversaw."

  • Keep your resume length to one page.

  • Include links to professional social media profiles or web pages.

  • Double-check for errors in formatting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Read more: 10 Ways to Enhance Your Resume 

Apply for inside sales jobs. 

When applying for an inside sales rep position, do your research regarding the company. Explain how hiring you might help boost the company's bottom line in your cover letter. If you get an interview, be prepared to share why you enjoy sales and why your approach to selling is unique. Show the interviewer your interest in the position by asking smart questions. 

Get started 

To see if a career as an inside sales representative is right for you, learn about the different aspects of being a sales representative. On Coursera, you'll find many sales courses including, Customer Segmentation and Prospecting offered by Northwestern University. This is the first of three in a series of classes called the Art of Sales Specialization. All three courses offer valuable skills and information to make you a better sales representative. 

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Article sources

1. Glassdoor. "Inside Sales Representative Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/inside-sales-representative-salary-SRCH_KO0,27.htm." Accessed May 25, 2022.

2. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sales Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/home.htm." Accessed May 25, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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