Whatever your role in the music business—whether a retailer, wholesaler, performer, or some other position—you are in business, and the business of business is selling. Hard stop.

But do you know the difference between inside and outside sales?

What Are Inside Sales?

As the name implies, inside sales are generated from inside the business. Sometimes it is by sales staff in a retail location; other times it might be outbound calling from a wholesaler in search of customers and yet others—such as agents and performers—working email and other digital channels to book dates.

The advantage of inside sales is that it allows a business to reach a larger number of potential clients. Buyers are either walk-ins or remote contacts; reaching out to prospects is more convenient and less expensive than traveling to meet them.

Inside sales often are lead generators; outside selling close the deal.

What Are Outside Sales?

Back in the day, outside salespeople were known as door-to-door salesmen. And to this day, they meet with potential customers in person to build and maintain business relationships.

A face-to-face meeting is a personal connection, and those are the foundation of trust and loyalty, which are integral to repeat sales. Outside selling costs more than inside, but the return on the investment comes in the form of increased sales volume over time.

Which Is Right For You?

That depends on your business. It can be an either-or or both-and situation.

A brick-and-mortar instrument retailer, for example, who wants to increase sales to high school students, may begin selling from the inside. There are only so many high schools within your geographic market, so it makes sense for inside sales staff to call or otherwise connect with their music teachers.

If that retailer has an ecommerce presence, inside sales might still be the way to go. In this case, though, the staff likely will spend some time answering inquiries that come through the website. Pro tip: A smaller or niche retailer might not need a dedicated inside sales staff; a store employee can handle the job for a few hours on their shift.

An instrument wholesaler, on the other hand, is more likely to dedicate more time to hybrid inside-outside or strictly outside selling.

Thousands of dollars in repeat business may be transacted over time, and that almost always demands a face-to-face relationship.

Finally, performers and agents usually do their own selling, and most often is the hybrid variety. From the inside, they contact potential clients by phone or email, then follow up hot leads with an in-person call for introductions and negotiations.

What Are Some Things to Consider When Hiring Sales Staff?

If you’re concerned about the costs of hiring sales staff, consider outsourcing. Hiring an agency for sales functions usually is less expensive than hiring personnel. Of course, agencies are in the business of selling, too, so once you start researching potential vendors, you will get deluged with outbound sales calls. (Pro tip: Use a search engine that anonymizes your computer; the Big Engines collect your data and sell it to buyers who might be interested in selling to you.) Consider referrals if possible and check online reviews for outsourcing sales agencies. In any case, be sure to get references from potential vendors before closing any deals.