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Outside Sales 101 | Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Written by Lidia Vijga
Outside Sales 101 - Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

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Outside sales or field sales have long been the primary method for B2B sales and still, remain one of the dominant sales methods for many B2C companies. However, with the rapid advancements in remote or virtual sales technologies, there has been a shift towards inside sales in recent years, with more and more companies and sales professionals moving to inside sales models.

While inside sales do have many advantages, outside sales are still strong in certain B2B verticals like healthcare where clients prefer doing business in person. In fact, many companies are finding that hybrid sales models, having both an inside sales team and an outside sales team, are the most effective way to reach their target market. While field sales may not be suitable for all B2B companies, there are still many industries where it remains the best option for outside sales professionals to reach potential customers.

If you aspire to become an outside sales representative, this article will provide everything you need to know about outside sales and the skills required to succeed as an outside sales representative.

What is outside sales?

Outside sales definition

Outside sales or field sales refer to the process of selling products or services in person. Outside sales representatives don’t spend a lot of time in the office. Instead, they travel to meet potential clients and existing customers face-to-face in their offices, restaurants, industry events, and trade shows.

What's the difference between Outside Sales vs Inside Sales?

Outside sales professionals doing face to face meetings

Outside sales representatives are the traditional type of sales professional. They typically work for a company that manufactures or distributes physical products or provides high-value services.

Field sales reps are responsible for finding prospective customers and developing relationships with them. Outside sales representatives travel to meet with potential customers, attend trade shows and industry events, give in-person presentations, and do product demonstrations. Because outside sales reps build relationships with customers face-to-face, they must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Inside sales professionals, on the other hand, work for companies that sell products or services remotely. Inside sales reps are responsible for generating new leads and developing relationships with customers, but they do not typically meet with them in person. Instead, they use email, phone, social media channels, live video, and asynchronous video to communicate with potential customers. Because they don’t have to travel to meet with customers, inside sales professionals can often sell to a larger geographical area than outside sales representatives.

To learn more about inside sales be sure to read our article on inside sales.

Do inside sales teams and outside sales teams work together?

Outside sales professionals and inside sales reps work together

Many B2C and B2B companies are increasingly using a combination of inside and outside sales, where a team of inside reps will prospect and identify qualified leads before passing them off to outside reps who then close deals in person.

Some outside sales professionals choose to work from their office at the early stages of the sales process and then travel to meet with pre-qualified prospects to close the deals. By handling it this way, they stay in control of their sales process from start to finish. While this sales process may not be as efficient as working with inside sales professionals, it can be very effective in certain industries where customers appreciate this hands-on personalized approach.

Is inside sales or outside sales harder?

Busy inside sales team

There is no simple answer to the question of whether outside or inside sales is harder. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of product being sold, the target audience, and the geographical area in which the outside sales representative is working. Both types of sales require a high level of skill and dedication, and each comes with its own unique challenges.

For outside sales representatives, the biggest challenge is often simply getting in front of potential customers. With inside sales, on the other hand, the challenge is often more about creating a personal connection with customers remotely.

Perhaps the most significant difference between inside and outside sales is that field sales require significantly more travel. This can be a major time commitment as outside sales representatives are often required to meet with potential customers who may be located in different parts of the country or even the world. This can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re not used to traveling.

Inside sales, on the other hand, typically involves working from an office or home. While this may seem like a benefit, it can also be a challenge, as you may feel isolated from potential clients.

Ultimately, both inside and outside sales can be difficult in their own ways, and which one is harder will likely depend on the individual sales rep.

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If you’re struggling to get in front of prospective customers or create a personal connection remotely, you can try DeckLinks. DeckLinks enables inside and outside sales professionals to get in front of prospective customers at any stage of the sales cycle by recording and sharing video-narrated PDF presentations. Watch some Video PDF examples here.

What do outside sales representative responsibilities include?

Outside sales representatives typically plan their workday to account for time spent traveling and meeting with current or prospective customers. Outside sales representative responsibilities include:

  • Booking appointments around clients’ busy schedules.
  • Traveling to visit customers in person to sell products and services.
  • Keeping records of customers and sales in CRM (Customer Relationship Management software).
  • Having in-depth knowledge about the products or services they are selling.
  • Visiting customers in person regularly to educate them about products or services.
  • Doing in-person product demonstrations.
  • Building relationships and trust with customers to keep them engaged.
  • Renewing contracts with existing customers and negotiating contracts with new customers.
  • Surveying the target audience.
  • Identifying new competitors.
  • Attending industry conferences and trade shows to connect with prospective customers and network with other sales professionals.
  • Meeting sales quotas and sales targets.
  • Reporting to sales managers.

What's the difference between B2B vs B2C outside sales process?

Outside sales representative going to meet potential clients

While B2B outside sales representatives sell to other businesses, B2C outside sales reps sell directly to consumers oftentimes going door to door. The goal of a B2C outside sales rep is to sell a product or service on the spot. Unlike B2B outside sales professionals, they rarely build long-term relationships with customers.

B2C field sales is a physically demanding job that takes a certain kind of sales representative to be successful at B2C outside sales. B2C sales reps have to be able to deal with in-person rejections regularly, as well as the physical challenges of being on their feet all day in all kinds of weather conditions. It requires a lot of energy and motivation to be successful.

However, B2C field sales can be extremely rewarding, both financially and personally. B2C outside sales are not for everyone, but for those who are cut out for it, it can be a very rewarding career.

Is outside sales representative a good career?

Outside sales professionals going through sales training

Many outside sales representatives work for companies that sell products such as office supplies, clothing, or appliances. Others may work for service-based companies, such as those that offer mowing services, pest control, or home improvement services.

Being a B2B outside sales representative has several great benefits, such as being able to travel and having the potential to earn a lot of money. Outside sales representatives sell products or services to customers outside of the company’s office. They typically work for a base sales salary and commission, which means they earn a percentage of the sales they make. This means that outside sales representatives have the potential to earn a lot of money, especially if they are good at field sales.

In addition to high earning potential, outside sales representatives also have the opportunity to travel. Outside sales reps travel a lot to meet with clients or attend trade shows and industry events. This can be a great perk for those who enjoy traveling and meeting new people.

Overall, if you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career, field sales may be the right option for you.

Is being an outside sales representative hard?

Outside sales professionals work hard to hit sales quotas

Being an outside sales rep can be both challenging and rewarding. On the one hand, you are your own boss and have the freedom to set your own schedule. On the other hand, you also have to be self-motivated, disciplined, and able to work independently without being closely supervised by sales managers.

Outside sales professionals are constantly on the go, meeting prospective customers and trying to sell them products or services. This can be draining, both physically and emotionally. In addition, outside sales professionals often have to deal with rejection, as many customers are not interested in what they’re selling or the timing could be wrong. It’s important to be resilient in this role, as it can be easy to give up when faced with constant rejection.

Outside sales representatives typically work for businesses that sell high-ticket items and to be successful in this career, outside sales reps need to be masters in building relationships with potential customers. Those who are successful in field sales often have strong communication and negotiation skills. Outside sales professionals also need to be able to manage their time and assigned sales territory effectively.

Of course, no two days are alike, which can make the job both exciting and frustrating at the same time. But if you are the type of sales representative who thrives on challenges and enjoys working independently, then field sales might just be the career for you.

What tools do outside sales representatives use?

Outside sales representative driving to face to face meetings with prospective customers

Outside sales representatives use a wide range of tools to help them close deals and build relationships with clients. While some tools are essential for every rep, others may be specific to a particular industry or sales process.

Some of the most common outside sales hardware tools include:

  • A laptop or tablet – Outside sales representatives need a reliable way to access their client database, sales materials, and contact information. A laptop or tablet can provide outside sales reps with the flexibility to work from anywhere.
  • A smartphone – A smartphone is an invaluable tool for outside sales representatives that provides access to email, business apps, and GPS. Smartphone cameras also can help outside sales professionals to capture client testimonials, product feature requests, etc.
  • A mobile POS terminal (Point of Sale) – A mobile POS terminal is a great solution for outside sales reps who need to take payments on the go. It’s small and lightweight, so it’s easy to carry, and it has all the features of a traditional POS terminal, including the ability to process credit and debit cards wirelessly.

Some of the most popular outside sales software tools include:

  • Google Maps – for general navigation.
  • Badger Maps – for optimizing routes.
  • Google Calendar – to keep the schedule organized.
  • Calendly – to make it easier to schedule in-person meetings with clients.
  • HubSpot CRM – to keep the sales pipeline organized.
  • DeckLinks – for sharing sales materials with clients and identifying qualified leads.
  • Zoom – for live video calls with clients that can’t meet in person.
  • Slack – for internal communication with the inside sales team and outside sales team.
  • WhatsApp – for external communication with clients.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator – for customer research and communication.
  • Evernote – for taking notes.

What skills are needed for outside sales?

The outside sales job is a profession that requires a unique skill set and a high degree of self-motivation and discipline. Because outside sales representatives are not typically working in an office environment, they need to be able to stay focused and driven even when there are distractions.

Outside sales reps need to be comfortable working independently and be able to manage their own time effectively. This can be a lot to handle, but it’s important to be organized and have a good system in place. One way to do this is to create a daily schedule and stick to it. Make sure to block out time for prospecting, in-person meetings, following up with new leads, and administrative tasks. It’s also important to set goals and keep track of your progress in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software).

Additionally, field sales reps need to know how to negotiate effectively without putting excessive pressure on the customer. The key is to find the right balance of assertiveness and accommodation. For example, outside sales reps should be assertive in their belief that the product or service they are selling is the best option for the customer. However, they should also be willing to accommodate the customer’s needs and budget. By finding the right balance, outside sales reps can negotiate effectively without putting undue pressure on the customer.

Outside sales representatives are the face of a company. They are the ones who interact directly with customers and build relationships. As a result, they need to be great at problem-solving and connecting the dots. They need to be able to quickly understand a customer’s needs and find the best solution. This helps build rapport and establish trust with new and existing customers.

Can you do outside sales as an introvert?

One of the most common questions aspiring outside sales representatives ask is “Can shy people succeed in outside sales?”

Many people believe that field sales require extroverted personality types, but this is not necessarily true. While extroverts may be more likely to enjoy the fast-paced, in-person interactions of field sales, introverts can still be successful in this career.

The key for introverts is to focus on the strengths that they bring to the table, such as strong listening skills and attention to detail which can be a valuable asset in outside sales helping them to get to know their clients and understand their needs. By using these strengths to their advantage, introverts can be successful outside sales representatives. In addition, outside sales may offer introverts the opportunity to work independently, which can be a significant benefit.

While outside sales may not be the ideal job for every introvert, it is certainly possible for introverts to succeed in this field.

What are the job requirements for outside sales professionals?

Outside sales representative job description and requirements

As an aspiring outside sales representative, you might be wondering what the basic job requirements are. While some sales managers may accept candidates who only have a high school diploma, others might prefer or even require that applicants have a college degree in fields like business, marketing, or communications. Companies that sell highly technical and specialized equipment to other businesses oftentimes require their outside sales representatives to have a bachelor’s degree in related fields.

Depending on the company, sales training for an outside sales jobs can last anywhere from a few weeks to upwards of a year.

Outside sales representative salary

Inside and outside sales representatives make an average of $61,000 per year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is significant variation in earnings for sales professionals among different industries. For example, outside sales reps who work in the pharmaceutical industry tend to earn much more than those who work in other industries. The top earners are sales engineers that make more than $100,000 per year. In addition, outside sales reps who work in large metropolitan areas tend to earn more than those who work in smaller cities or towns. Earning potential of outside sales jobs varies greatly and is highly dependent on the base salary and commission structure, skills and dedication of a sales representative.

Here’s the table of average salaries for sales reps in the United States for various industries based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Sales jobs Average sales salary
Advertising Sales Reps
$52,340
Insurance Sales Reps
$49,840
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Reps
$48,770
Sales Engineers
$103,710
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Reps
$62,910
Travel Agents
$43,810
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Reps
$62,890

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Outside sales, or field sales, is the term for selling products or services in person.
  • To sell products and services, outside sales representatives travel to meet customers within an assigned sales territory where they are – whether that’s at their offices, restaurants, industry events, or trade shows.
  • Most outside sales representatives earn a base sales salary and commissions on sales they make.
  • Nowadays, hybrid sales models that use both an inside sales team and an outside sales team are becoming more prevalent among B2B and B2C companies in certain industries.
  • Both inside and outside sales can pose unique challenges, as well as offer amazing rewards. Many sales representatives try both to find the one that they prefer more.
  • Outside sales representatives use a wide range of hardware and software tools that help them optimize their sales process.
  • Self-motivation and discipline are one of the many key skills that outside sales representatives need to succeed.
  • Although it may seem counter-intuitive, introverts can make great outside sales reps when they focus on their natural strengths, such as strong listening skills and attention to detail.
  • Many companies do not require outside sales reps to have a college or bachelor’s degree. However, if you want to sell specialized and technical equipment to other businesses, in most cases you’ll need a college diploma or degree in a related field.

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