Outsourced vs. in-house sales development: Which is right for your business?

Jeffrey Lupo
Jeffrey Lupo
Michael Maximoff
Reviewed by
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:14 m

The lines between in-house and outsourced sales development are blurring. The rise of remote work, fractional roles, and an increasingly global commercial economy has created a new conundrum in B2B.

Do you hire in-house or outsource sales development?

How do you know when to do one or the other?

In this article, we offer you a lens through which to assess your own situation, insights on prevailing trends, and real-life examples to serve as case studies.

What’s the difference between outsourced and in-house sales development?

The difference can first be understood by observing the challenges that are unique to managing in-house sales development.

In this section, we’ll cover:

  • What challenges to expect when building and managing your own team
  • How outsourcing sales development addresses each challenge
  • A tactics-versus-strategy comparison guide to further illustrate the differences between in-house and outsourced sales development

In-house sales development challenges

Resource demand

You’ll have to hire, train, and manage a sales team. That’s especially difficult for small businesses and startups with limited budgets. As a result, sales development and sales calls tend to fall on individuals like the CEO.

Scaling challenges

Scaling up or down is also more difficult because of the additional cost of time and resources. Staying responsive to market conditions and rapidly scaling is unrealistic for most in-house teams.

Ongoing training

Sales development is becoming more specialized. That means you need to invest in both skilled professionals and ongoing education and training for your team.

Resource allocation

Again, small businesses struggle the most here. Startup team members tend to wear multiple hats. Each person has limited time and energy, hence, sales development takes considerable focus away from core business operations.

These points summarize the key challenges that come with running sales development in-house. So, what about outsourced sales development?

In terms of the aforementioned challenges, here’s how outsourced sales development differs.

How outsourced sales development overcomes in-house challenges


Overall, outsourced sales development is more cost-effective. This is especially true for short-term projects due to the lack of full-time employee overhead.

Dedicated professionals

Outsourced sales development providers like Belkins equip you with professionals who are 100% dedicated, not only to sales development but to specific stages of the process. Our specialists wear 1 hat, allowing for a deep level of knowledge and expertise in their role.

Simple to scale

Scaling in either direction becomes much simpler because there are no long-term commitment requirements and no full-time employee contracts. Many providers understand the advantage of staying agile and tailor their service accordingly. If your team has more calls than they can handle, an outsourced sales development professional can pivot to another client in the meantime.

Training done for you

The entire process of onboarding, training, and managing multiple sales development professionals, all specialized in different stages of the sales process, is one of the biggest strains on time and resources. Outsourced sales development providers handle all of this for you, which grants a huge advantage to startups and small businesses in particular.

Knowing when to outsource operations and what to keep in-house

Tactics vs. strategies

To decide whether in-house or outsourced sales development is right for your current situation, it’s helpful to adopt a strategy-versus-tactics mindset. Doing so will help you determine which efforts, such as lead generation and sales training, are either better outsourced or kept in-house.

Here are a couple of brief definitions to explain what we mean by strategy and tactics:

  • Strategies involve long-term goals that align with your company vision. These decisions are based on your company’s core competencies. They shape your direction in business.
  • Tactics are the individual methods you use to implement your strategy. They include specific actions, techniques, and day-to-day operations.

The chart below will help you decide how to allocate resources effectively while keeping core competencies in mind.

Sales development efforts Strategic/tactical Reasons to outsource Reason for in-house
Market analysis Strategic Access to specialized tools and expertise Tailored and managed alignment with internal business goals and customer understanding
Sales training Tactical Access to specialized training and expertise Tailored training and alignment with company culture and specific products/services
Lead generation Tactical Agile scalability to meet fluctuating demands In-depth knowledge of the product/service and target market
CRM implementation Strategic Lacking IT infrastructure or expertise Custom integration with internal systems and data control
Sales process design Strategic Proven methodologies and industry expertise Customization to fit unique business model and customer journey
Customer relationship management Strategic Lacking internal capabilities or resources In-depth understanding of customer needs and history
Campaign execution Tactical Flexibility and access to diverse skill sets Greater control over brand messaging and customer engagement

To help make sense of the above chart, here are 2 examples:

The strategic choice to keep CRM and sales intel software implementation in-house is preferable for the following:

  • Greater data security and control over sensitive information
  • Businesses with the resources for customization and integration of systems
  • Businesses with unique processes and business needs reliant on existing tech stack
  • Developing an in-depth understanding of your customer’s behaviors and needs by executing, testing, and optimizing every stage of the buyer’s journey

Examples of tactical decisions that are good to outsource are sales development setup, maintenance, and training for the following reasons:

  • Each is handled by dedicated specialists with a deep level of knowledge and experience
  • More cost-effective
  • Allows you to stay focused on core business operations without the need to redirect resources
  • Faster implementation and scaling
  • Allows you to stay responsive and adaptable to changing markets

While reviewing the chart above, consider tactical and strategic aspects of your business that aren’t listed here. Doing so will give you a better feel for how much sales development could be outsourced, and which essential functions to keep in-house.

Why outsourced sales development is a growing trend

Outsourced sales development means delegating sales-related tasks to a third-party organization. It’s typically done to leverage external expertise while maintaining focus on core business functions.

The trend to outsource sales development has grown because sales development has become more sophisticated in terms of industry, tools, and methodologies. The increased need for dedicated experts has worked to shift focus away from the company, and more to the individuals and projects.

In combination with the growing prevalence of remote work, sales development has become less about the brand and more about what needs to be done and who can do it.

Even some of the biggest companies choose to outsource sales development to leverage a specific pool of expertise. For instance, Microsoft is well known for its partnership program wherein they strategically outsource operations to native sales teams in overseas locations.

How much does outsourced sales development cost?

The price depends on a number of factors that are typically packaged into different pricing models. Here are some ballpark figures to serve as a starting point:

  • SDR team salary: $50,000–$70,000 per year
  • Hourly: $25–$50 per hour
  • Pay-per-appointment: $150–$300 per appointment with mid-to-low tier management. $800–$1,000 per appointment with leads in the C-suite
  • Retainer: $4,000–$10,000 per month
  • Project basis: $10,000–$50,000 per campaign. Up to $200,000 per campaign with the inclusion of strategy, automation setup, and pricing consulting

For a meaningful price comparison between outsourced and in-house sales development, it’s helpful to also calculate what in-house sales development would cost for your organization.

How to outsource sales development

Outsourcing sales development entails hiring a third-party provider to manage efforts such as lead generation, customer outreach, and sales qualification.

While starting a conversation and signing a contract is relatively straightforward, knowing what to first look for in an outsourced sales development provider is another matter.

Here is a list of steps (that are also popular trends) for choosing the best service provider for your needs:

  1. Understand the different performance and pricing models.    
  2. Look closely at the provider’s chosen industry of focus, approach to market segmentation, and use of tech tools like AI and analytics.
  3. Learn what kinds of questions to ask in the interview process.
  4. Find a partner that works with your in-house team (instead of working for your team).

💡 Case in point

To illustrate what the latter stages of the outsourcing process look like, we can turn to the case of YorkTest, a health and wellness consultancy services provider.

YorkTest’s client base existed in the UK, and they were struggling to penetrate a new market in the United States. They came to us to address specific challenges and increase the quality of outcomes, rather than simply generate leads.

After aligning on strategy and with their current operations, we agreed upon an outsourced team consisting of 1 account manager, 1 lead researcher, 1 sales development representative (SDR), and 1 copywriter.

The initial sales development tactics outsourced to us were ideal customer profile (ICP) identification and modification, lead research, and the deployment of a tailored outreach campaign for multiple target audiences.

By first getting clear on the strategic and tactical areas of their business that needed help, we were able to help YorkTest scale an innovative product within a new market.

When should you outsource sales development?

Here are a few situations that would allow you to benefit from outsourced sales development:

  • You know you need additional sales expertise and the accompanying tech but, you lack the necessary time and resources.
  • You’re ready to expand sales reach (scale) but you require a high degree of operational efficiency to reduce the overhead that comes with team building.
  • You’re ready to scale but need to remain highly responsive to market conditions in the event you need to pause or reverse scaling.
  • Marketing operations are becoming more complicated and competitive and you’re considering onboarding 1 or more sales development specialists and tools.

💡 Case in point

Here’s another angle to help you assess precisely when is the best time to outsource sales development: Unifocus is a SaaS provider with clients in the US, Europe, and the Asian-Pacific. They sought to scale their business by filling their pipeline with new clients and simultaneously increasing sales with their current customer base. Essentially, Unifocus was entering a growth phase that required onboarding SDRs to their team.

The problem was the current labor market. Finding and recruiting SDRs at the skill level they needed proved challenging. Additionally, they had a long (6–8 months) sales cycle and were lacking the necessary resources for outreach testing and expansion.

Unifocus first came to us to help formulate a strategic approach. We developed a lead research and outreach strategy that was executed through the following tactics:

  • Refined their ICP
  • Optimized their contact list
  • Developed targeted outreach and templates for different client types

The results included over 5,000 marketing qualified leads (MQLs) added to their sales pipeline and 56 high-value sales calls booked within an 8-month growth period.

The reality and cost of in-house sales development

In-house sales development means building and managing a sales team for lead qualification, generation, and nurturing. In-house sales teams are fully integrated into your company and culture.

This approach used to be the norm. However, because of the increased need for specialization (both skill and tech tools) the cost of having an in-house team has grown.

Additionally, research is an increasingly significant portion of the time SDRs spend in their role.

Totaling the cost for 1 SDR, you’ll stand to spend the following:

  • Salary: $55,000–$89,000 per year
  • Data services: $30,000+ per year (depending on the number of contracts generated)
  • Overhead (including tech tools): Start at about $2,000 per year

On the high side, costs can reach $200,000 per year per SDR.

How to get started with in-house sales development

It starts with a dedication to building a team of professionals around a lead generation strategy. Each individual should focus on a specialized aspect such as lead research, qualification, and data analysis.

Furthermore, in-house team building requires educating SDRs on your product, and current working sales techniques, and integrating them with your marketing strategy.

In terms of expanding your tech stack and vetting individuals for the necessary expertise, know that an understanding of CRM, data analytics, and marketing tools has become essential to the role.

When should you choose in-house sales development?

You should leverage an in-house sales team when you want full control over your sales process and when business goals demand a high level of alignment that makes outsourcing impractical.

However, you’ll also need sufficient resources to invest in a dedicated sales team and the accompanying infrastructure they need to succeed.

One often overlooked aspect of integrating a sales team is pairing them with the marketing team. This is a growing trend due to the need for both sales and marketing to leverage data, lead qualification, and marketing strategy.

You should also hire in-house sales development when you’re clear on the different specialists you require for each task.

Over time, as you scale, you may find that outsourcing portions of your sales development makes sense, leading to hybrid situations (partly in-house, partly outsourced).

For example, it’s been found in smaller B2B firms that sales and marketing roles tend to overlap as 1 individual. As an organization expands, and the need for further specialization arises, this jack-of-all-trades quickly becomes overwhelmed with multiple tasks.

How in-house and outsourced sales development can work together

At this stage you may have figured that there’s no reason to fully commit to one methodology for sales development or the other. Rather, discerning which strategies and tactics must be kept in-house for the time being and which are better outsourced, in a blend of the two, may better serve your goals.

Here are a few benefits found in combining in-house with outsourced sales development:

  • Complementary strengths: The unique deep product knowledge and brand alignment of in-house team members can complement the scalability and specialized skills of outsourced ones.
  • Flexibility in scaling operations: A combination provides a more flexible framework for businesses to scale up or down based on market demand, without the constraints of totally fixed overheads.
  • Knowledge sharing and training: Outsourced teams bring a fresh perspective and innovative sales strategies while in-house teams provide industry-specific knowledge, leading to mutual learning and improved sales tactics.
  • Resource optimization: Optimize resources by leveraging outsourced teams for high-effort, specialized tasks (like lead research) while keeping your in-house team focused on core sales activities.

How to find a trusted outsourced SDR provider

To help you navigate your search for the best outsourced sales development provider, we encourage you to value seasoned professionals over systems, a human touch over automation, and a problem-focused approach over predefined service models.

At Belkins, we don’t come off as strongly as some of our competitors because we don’t engage in over-promising results.

Instead, we get to know your organization’s unique situation to set realistic attainable goals.

To further aid you in your search, we invite you to check out our guide on the top 15 choices for B2B sales outsourcing.

Ready to get started?

Here are several options and free resources that will help you get started on your outbound sales journey:

  • Hire Belkins: If you want to discuss your current business goals and how we can potentially help you achieve them, contact us.
  • Belkins case studies: Gain insights on how we’ve generated 4,760,850 leads and millions of dollars for businesses of all sizes. Read their stories.
  • Belkins Growth Podcast: Get to know our VP of sales, Brian Hicks and Belkins co-founder Michael Maximoff as they interview professionals on market challenges, effective sales practices, and business perspectives in various industries. Listen to the Belkins Growth Podcast.
  • Belkins webinars: Become a member of our community. Subscribe to unlock access to exclusive insights.

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Jeffrey Lupo
Jeffrey Lupo
Content specialist at Kalyna Marketing
Jeffrey, currently a content writer at Kalyna Marketing agency, is a digital content marketer for B2B technology startups and marketing agencies. His background is in hard-close sales, teaching English, and creative writing. He's worked with B2B marketing agencies, SaaS, DevOps, Martech, and cybersecurity companies. Jeffrey was raised in and is currently based out of Houston, Texas.
Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.