Telemarketing vs. Teleprospecting vs. Inside Sales. Are they all the same?

Looking for a clarification around whether these are all the same or whether there are nuanced differences? Thanks


Craig Rosenberg (Vice President, Sales and Marketing,
Ok, I have never gotten this right.

Technical Definition: Selling or promoting a product or service over the phone
Anecdotal Definition: Often associated with consumer-related/highly transactional phone sales. Companies with complexity in their products (software) never say 'telemarketing'

Technical Definition: Seeking and generating interest for a particular product or service over the phone. The goal is NOT to close for a sale but to find the right person ('right' defined as qualified for fit) and the right interest (interested in hearing more).
Anecdotal: I rarely hear this term, lead generation, sales development, lead development is more common.

Inside Sales:
Technical Definition: Closing sales over the phone.
Anecdotal: Still used at times to mean tele-qualifiers, but with more and more business being closed over the phone, inside sales is typically used for quota-carrying phone-based reps
4 Additional Answers
Chris Snell (Inside Sales Manager, The Marketplace,
Both Craig and Brian have hit the nail on the head here. For me, I think Telemarketing is typcially associated with those calls you get at home trying to sell you vinyl siding or a subscription to the Times.

Teleprospecting is when you're calling in to qualify a potential opportunity. Whether it's following up on warm leads or cold calling, the goal for teleprospecting is to determine whether or not a lead should or should not be followed up by sales.

Inside Sales is taking a deal through the entire buying cycle, ultimately ending with closed business.
Mark Hunter (The Sales Hunter, The Sales Hunter)
Putting all of the technical definitions aside I'd prefer to say telephone sales whether it be for inside sales, telemarketing or outside sales is about having a specific strategy that takes into account how the telephone call fits into the total sales strategy. Before any telephone call is made the salesperson needs to have a goal / objective they want to achieve. Too many telephone sales calls are made without a clear objective / goal in mind or worse yet a goal that does not fit into the overall sales strategy.
Brian Berlin (President, Straightline Strategies, Inc.)
Agreed. Telemarketing is quantitative, teleprospecting is qualitative, but both are focused outbound efforts. Inside sales, when properly deployed, is actually 'sales inside' -- running deals from interested to closed.
David Filwood (Principal Consultant, TeleSoft Systems)
There are profound differences between Telemarketing vs. Teleprospecting vs. Inside Sales. Viewing these positions as identical - and therefore attempting to hire, train, develop and manage them in the exact same way is a huge mistake.

While most everyone can use a telephone - not everyone is cut out to work in a Call Center environment. And while someone may have “The Right Stuff” to deliver great Customer Service & Support as an Inside Sales Agent – it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same individual is also a good fit for the more demanding, proactive & sales-oriented requirements of a Telemarketing position – or the high call volume, tightly-scripted requirements of a Teleprospecting job.

Scripted and unscripted call handling are discrete and different pursuits - requiring separate Personality/Job-Fit/Temperament factors. Someone with the Intellect & ‘Verbal Artistry’ to motivate an executive to take action in an unscripted fashion is rarely a good fit for a tightly-scripted Teleprospecting Call Center job. Equally – it is rare for someone who performs well in a tightly-scripted Teleprospecting Call Center to successfully make the transition to unscripted Telemarketing interactions. Few people possess the ability to work successfully long-term in both a scripted and unscripted Call Center. Inside Sales requires a somewhat different mix of Personality/Job-Fit traits - people who possess all of the characteristics of customer service representatives and account managers.

Hiring the wrong Agent to begin with is the Root Cause of most Telemarketing/Teleprospecting/Inside Sales Performance Issues. It’s also a significant drain on your Budget & Bottom Line - on Customer Satisfaction - and on your Sales Results. Every failed hire represents wasted dollars down the drain. Not to mention the Lowered Productivity, Poor Morale & Higher Absences associated with a Poor Job Fit.

Top performing Telemarketers, Teleprospectors or Inside Sales Agents all have a unique constellation of Personality/Job-Fit traits - and specific amounts of those traits - that are necessary in order to successfully complete the job requirements.

One more important factor to understand is that it is indeed possible to have too much of a Personality/Job-Fit trait. For example - although *Assertiveness* is an important characteristic of a Telemarketer, Teleprospector or Inside Sales Agent - too much *Assertiveness* can be detrimental to prospects/customers as well as the workplace.

Employers shouldn’t be looking for a fixed set of skills or experiences in their Job Candidates – they should be searching for something much more important — an optimum blend of Personality/Job-Fit, Soft Skills, Motivation, and Work Ethic to be a Top Telemarketer, Teleprospector or Inside Sales Agent.

Top performing Telemarketing, Teleprospecting or Inside Sales Call Centers drive their Revenue & Performance through superior hiring tactics. We help employers gain better insight & more accurate predictions as to which applicants from a pool of Candidates would perform up to, or beyond their established standards. You can find out about a Free Trial of SPAS Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Screening Software at
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