When it comes to finding success in sales, there’s nothing quite like the experience gained from outside sales. As an experienced outside sales representative, I have encountered numerous examples that have shaped my understanding of the industry and further honed my skills in building relationships and closing deals in face-to-face interactions. I can attest that it’s not an easy one, but it’s worth experiencing. This article will give you a comprehensive guide to outside sales.

Key Points

  • Outside sales involves professionals meeting clients face-to-face outside the office, often traveling extensively to maintain relationships and secure sales.
  • These reps are responsible for promoting and selling products or services directly to businesses or consumers outside the company’s premises, requiring excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Traveling salesmen represent a quintessential example, encompassing various roles like door-to-door salespeople, emphasizing personalized sales support and face-to-face interactions.
  • Outside sales involves strategic activities catering to complex products/services and C-level decision-makers, while inside sales focuses on efficient growth through remote interactions.
  • Effective communication, resilience, adaptability, product knowledge, and strategic thinking are essential for success in outside sales.
  • Outside sales reps are tasked with meeting customers, nurturing relationships, conducting demonstrations, negotiating contracts, meeting sales quotas, and attending conferences.

What is Outside Sales?

Outside sales is about personnel entering the field to meet prospective customers. Outside sales professionals work autonomously outside a formal office setting, often traveling to meet customers face-to-face and maintain relationships with existing customers. They rarely operate in a typical office environment and instead travel directly to the client to sell products or services. This often leads to working outside regular hours, and many outside sales representatives work remotely or at home.

Outside Sales Representative 

An outside sales representative is a person who represents the company by engaging the client face-to-face with customers in person. Their primary responsibility is to promote and sell products or services directly to businesses or consumers outside the company’s premises. Outside sales representatives often travel extensively, meeting with clients, conducting sales presentations, negotiating contracts, and building strong relationships to drive sales and achieve revenue targets. This role requires excellent communication, interpersonal skills, and a thorough understanding of the products or services offered. Outside sales representatives are vital in generating new business opportunities and maintaining existing client relationships, making them important contributors to a company’s growth and success.

What Is an Example of Outside Sales? 

An example of outside sales is a traveling salesman.

Traveling Salesman

This category encompasses a variety of sales roles, including door-to-door salespeople, although it is not limited exclusively to this method of sales. Field sales representatives often travel extensively to build and maintain client relationships, understand their needs, and provide personalized sales support. Their work involves a combination of face-to-face meetings, product demonstrations, and negotiations, allowing them to tailor their sales approach to each client’s unique requirements. These professionals travel to meet clients in person, facilitating sales transactions outside of a traditional office setting. This category includes various sales roles, such as door-to-door salespeople, but is not limited exclusively to this sales method.

Read: CRM FOR SALES: Best Software For 2023

Is Outside Sales Better Than Inside Sales? 

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When discussing outside sales, it is helpful to consider its counterpart, inside sales. Inside sales representatives typically work in an office setting during regular hours and use communication technologies such as the telephone, email, video conferencing, social media, or screen shares. They usually do not travel to meet clients. However, due to technological advancements, there is a growing trend towards a hybrid inside/outside employment model, where outside sales are used as needed rather than being an essential part of bringing in business. This can be beneficial for companies looking to reduce costs.

Inside sales personnel often work within a team and have more direct supervision. They have to be comfortable with cold calling to generate new business and be able to explain a product or service thoroughly without relying on visual aids or prototypes. Inside sales has seen significant growth compared to outside sales, with one estimate suggesting that ten inside salespeople are hired for every outside sales professional.

Outside sales typically involve more strategic activities, such as meeting with C-level decision-makers to help them develop and implement business strategies. Outside sales are typically used when selling more complex and expensive goods and services, and the orders placed through outside sales tend to be larger. Inside sales, on the other hand, focus more on the number of interactions than the depth of those interactions.

The Cost and Scalability of an Inside Sales Team

An inside sales team can be a cost-effective option, as the expenses associated with running the operations do not drastically increase with the addition of new team members. All that’s required for inside sales reps is a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a CRM system. As the team grows, the new costs incurred would include the salary of new hires, an additional CRM seat, and sales training. With a larger team operating from an office or remotely, reaching more prospects and expanding sales becomes possible. With the aid of a good CRM tool, the inside sales team can streamline lead generation and scoring, automate follow-ups, visualize the sales pipeline, and focus on the most promising deals. In summary, the inside sales approach allows for increased sales results at a lower cost and minimal risk.

The Cost and Scalability of an Outside Sales Team

Expanding an outside sales team tends to be more expensive, involving costs beyond salaries and CRM seats. However, the potential payoff is significantly higher. The investment may be justifiable depending on the industry, product, and business stage. Field reps rely on in-person meetings, necessitating budget allocation for flights, meals, accommodations, and transportation expenses. Unlike inside sales, face-to-face conversations cannot be automated, and each lead is handled individually, making the process time-consuming. These representatives can only focus on one deal at a time and spend considerable time traveling between leads. This approach is more about managing individual relationships. For businesses offering high-value products or services, investing in outer sales reps can lead to substantial returns over the long term.

Checklist on Outside Sales

Maximizing Outside Sales Performance

Deeper customer relationships contribute to higher customer lifetime value and loyalty. A strategy to enhance outer sales performance involves identifying the necessary skills and having top-performing reps transfer their expertise to the rest of the team. This can be achieved through group training sessions, ensuring that learning becomes an ongoing part of the job. While outside sales are more challenging to scale due to higher costs, it is a suitable strategy for slower, long-term growth. Inside sales may be the initial focus for cost-effective and efficient growth. Expanding the outside sales team becomes favorable when there’s a readiness to invest in in-person customer relationships.

Why Choose Outside Sales? 

Outside sales can be a strategic choice for businesses that sell complex and expensive products and services. Outside sales professionals can engage in face-to-face meetings with key decision-makers, enabling deeper interactions and a more personalized approach to sales. This method is particularly effective for securing larger orders and implementing long-term business strategies. Let’s see what makes a great outer sale.

What Makes a Great Outside Sales Rep? 

Here are a few things that can make you a great sales representative:

  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills 
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Persistence 
  • Product Knowledge
  • Time Management
  • Problem-Solving Abilities 
  • Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Strategic Thinking

A great outside sales representative should have the above qualities, which enable good communication with their clients and productive sales. This can also build a customer relationship. knowing what your customers want and how they react to your products. It can also help you adjust to  improvement in your business or industry 

Responsibilities of an Outside Sales Rep

The responsibilities of an outside sales rep include meeting with customers to educate them and sell their product or service, building and nurturing customer relationships, providing demonstrations or tutorials of products, making phone calls or conducting virtual meetings with customers, renewing or negotiating contract terms with current or previous customers, scheduling appointments with clients, working around their schedule, setting and meeting sales quotas every month, and attending conferences and conventions to present the product or service to potential customers.

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Salary for Outside Sales Representatives

The average salary for outside sales representatives is $80,944 annually, but this figure can change due to experience, location, industry, and company size. Outer sales representatives may also earn a commission on their sales and receive benefits such as 401(k) matching, cell phone reimbursement, a company car, an employee stock purchase plan, a flexible spending account, a fuel card, a loan repayment program, mileage reimbursement, parental leave, and profit sharing.

Tips for Working in Outside Sales

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Here are some tips you can follow to help you perform well in an outside sales role:

Research the Company Beforehand

Before arriving at a company to make a sale, conduct extensive research on it to make your sales pitch personable. Because they know common sales tactics, try to make yours unique and specific to them to help make your pitch more appealing than others they hear. You can conduct this research by looking at the company’s website or searching for it online. This can help you identify any challenges the company may have to help you better explain how your product is a solution for them. If you know the name of the prospect you’re meeting, you can also research them by viewing their social media pages or reading about them on their company’s website.

Develop your Skills

Successful sales professionals rely on a combination of hard and soft skills to help them succeed. Hard skills may include sales tactics or specifics about the industry in which they operate. For example, someone who performs outside sales for an agricultural company may benefit from knowing about harvesting vehicles, crops, soil, and weather trends. Some common soft skills most outside sales professionals can benefit from include:

  • Interpersonal
  • Customer service
  • Negotiation 
  • Organization
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving

Know your Product

Being highly knowledgeable about your product can help you sell it more effectively. Your customers may have specific questions about its operation, so prepare to answer them. If they determine how well you know your product and can supply answers to all their questions, they may be more interested in using it. Knowing more about your product and its industry also helps you appear as a reliable source of knowledge, making establishing trust and a relationship with customers easier. Consider meeting with your product development team or a subject matter expert within your company. You can ask as many questions as possible about the product to ensure you know everything about how it operates to relay this information to customers.