Long before the advent of web conferencing tools and email, there was no such thing as inside and outside sales professionals. Both of them were synonymous and largely involved in the same sales responsibilities.
However, digital technologies and other innovations have tipped the balance towards inside sales. More and more sales reps are closing deals right from the comfort of their desks.
But even as inside sales teams grow at an astonishing rate, there’s still a true need for good old-fashioned, face-to-face selling in many industries.
You still need field salespeople to travel and meet prospects across sales territories. These field reps manage both new and existing customer relationships in person, creating some of the most loyal customers for the company. According to Payscale, field sales personnel need skills like account management, customer relations, new business development, and account-based selling among others to be a great sales rep.
We talked to successful outside sales reps to find out what keeps them at the top of their game. In this segment, we’ll look at all the sales processes, tips, secrets, techniques, and technologies used by the leading outside sales gurus to close more deals and bring consistent business to their companies.
NOTE: We’ll be using field sales and outside sales interchangeably.
Here is the list of our Outside Sales Gurus’ Top 20 Secrets (click each secret to fast forward):
The Top 20 Outside Sales Secrets
- Know your product
- Aim for the moon with targets and quotas
- The customer comes first
- Give them a quote ASAP!
- Embrace the power of sales technology and analytics
- Find an outside sales mentor or protege
- Stay organized with sales automation
- Use GPS Prospect Discovery
- Use account-based selling in the field
- Eliminate non-selling activity on the road
- Enable yourself to sell from anywhere, any time
- Become a storyteller
- Deliver content in person
- Use data-driven insights to improve engagement
- Collaborate with inside sales reps and the office
- Join Toastmasters or try an acting class
- Keep taking prospects and clients to dinner
- Use Salesforce Caller ID
- Be yourself so your personality shows
- Use social media (but be careful!)
1. Know your product
Whereas inside sales reps need to speak intelligently about their products, outside sales reps also need to know how best to use their products, their industrial applications, and in some cases the products’ intricate engineering.
This is why outside sales teams can comprise of product managers, industry experts, and former end-users of the products. It’s also why an outside sales salary is typically much higher than their inside sales counterparts.
In addition to knowing about the product, outside sales reps are best suited to gather intelligence on product improvements. From long-lasting client relationships to face-to-face meetings, field reps can make all the difference in innovation by continually supporting customer needs.
This is one of the toughest sales jobs there is—strong-minded salespeople need only apply!
2. Aim for the moon with targets and quotas
In the words of the famous Michelangelo, the greater danger doesn’t lie in aiming too high and falling short. Instead, we hurt ourselves more when we aim too low and actually achieve the mark.
Here’s a mentality that top-tier outside sales gurus have. If you’ve been meeting quota attainment for the past few months in a row, then you’re clearly underplaying your real potential.
To be the GOAT of the sales team, the experts advise setting sales targets that actually scare you. Scarier sales goals will not only force you to plan proactively, they literally scare you into action. The sales goals will motivate you to gather more quality data and knowledge as you strive to hit these seemingly impossible numbers. But once you achieve them, then you’ll continually challenge yourself and elevate your standard as your own competition, and exceed quota attainment.
3. The customer comes first
While you’re busy trying to meet your sales quota, remember to value the customer more than anything else. Inside or outside, all the best salespeople know just how important it is to support the customer’s needs. And while you can always push a product for the sake of selling it, you’ll only sell it once.
But if you can win a customer’s loyalty and focus on what they really need in a product, then you’ll be creating customers for life. Offer them suggestions from your portfolio that match their requisition.
And in case you don’t know all your stuff or lack knowledge about a particular aspect of the product, make sure you come prepared with relevant information or ask someone on your sales team. Don’t be afraid of being proactive and fetching intel from different departments before proceeding with the sale. If you take care of the customers, then the sales and money will follow you as opposed to the other way round.
4. Give them a quote as soon as possible
Did you know that customers feel more urgency to make a decision when they have a sales quote in hand?
They may have a written statement with the price, variants, product details, services, and other information required to complete the transaction. But more often than not, customers won’t come asking for a quote. You have to give them the estimate when you feel the time is right or if the sales inquiry comes in.
Whether it’s through a call or email, make sure the lead gets their sales quote. Don’t forget to add a number or email address where the lead can reach you with regards to the estimate. The sales quote will be just the first of many documents to follow, so you might as well get on with it early enough.
5. Embrace the power of sales technology and analytics
Sales technology is among the biggest facilitators that help managers solve the biggest problems that come with outside sales. This especially applies to CRM and managing customer data, and quota attainment.
Remember – data is good, but sales analytics make it great. A lot of sales reps end up competing on who sold the most or what product is selling faster. However, salespeople tend to miss the bigger picture.
Sales analytics help you and your sales team know how the sales graph is mapped out and what aspects need to be fixed. Maybe you’re selling the right products to the wrong audience in the wrong market.
New Outside Sales Secrets from Marcus Miceli
If you enjoyed the secrets from our Field Sales Gurus, you’re really going to love the field sales secrets from Marcus Miceli, Veloxy’s newest Account Executive. Here’s a secret about Marcus—he started his own health supplement company. Talk about needing field sales skills! If you’d like to pick his mind about field sales, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll now pass the baton over to Marcus.
6. Find an outside sales mentor or protege
While collaborative selling is a hot topic right now, the old-fashioned practice of finding a mentor (or a protege) has fallen by the wayside.
The enormous digital footprint of today’s outside sales representatives has inspired lonely self-improvement efforts such as attending online seminars and reading books written by 1 of 1,000+ sales icons. Use LinkedIn to find a seasoned outside sales veteran in your area or network, or simply reach out to an in-house colleague with great sales experience. More times than not they’ll appreciate and invest in the opportunity to help you.
While having an outside sales mentor is critical, having an outside sales protege can be just as beneficial to your career. When helping a sales amateur or even a college student, your awareness with regard to accountability will be huge, so you’ll subconsciously drive yourself to stay ahead of outside sales trends and never leave your protege behind. The best way to find a protege is to contact your local business schools or alumni.
Now is the best time to schedule video calls while we’re stuck in the remote sales world.
7. Stay organized with sales automation
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. “Make sure you organize your efforts at the end of the day!” After a quick nod and hidden eye-roll, you think to yourself “I don’t have time, I’m a salesperson, I need to sell!”
It’s all too common today to spend one to two hours every day on non-selling activities. That’s right, the activities that do not generate revenue are taking up a significant portion of your day. And even worse, if your day runs long, your partner will not be happy with you spending more time with your CRM than with them.
Luckily for you, there is field sales technology that can automate your calendar and follow-up. In addition to Sales Artificial Intelligence that prompts you with optimal times to reach out to a lead, it can also extract key dates and names from emails and automatically add them to your customer relationship management software.
Staying organized no longer has to be a burden! Trial Veloxy Sales AI for 30 days to learn more!
8. Use GPS prospect discovery
Tools like Veloxy Sales AI and Badger Mapping can help you find new leads when you’re out in the field. Whether you’re walking into a client meeting, or sitting in your local Starbucks, it’s as simple as one-click on your phone to find a closeby lead and download their information.
As I shared earlier, it’s wise to remain knowledgeable about your products. It’s even wiser to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry. Stopping into prospective companies and dropping off a business card and info sheet shows that you’re aware of their business, their executive staff, and based on the content, you’re probably aware of their pain points and newsworthy activity.
If you’re using Veloxy, you can also do all of this new prospect downloading from the comfort of our web portal. Be hyper-efficient by planning your route and stop-ins ahead of time!
9. Use account-based selling in the field
In the old days, field sales reps only had the names and numbers of a few select contacts. Now, with the ever-expanding presence of data, we can use tools like ZoomInfo to quickly uncover Org Charts and learn of the latest personnel promotions.
While inside sales has to leverage account-based selling virtually, field reps can follow up on business intelligence in person. From dropping off a care package to congratulate the new CMO on their promotion, to confidently asking to speak with another contact with a similar buying power, account-based selling was seemingly made for the outside sales model.
If you have your smartphone with you during a visit, you can use Veloxy’s mobile app to access an eagle’s eye view of the decision-makers, team environment, their past and present activity, and their latest social media post.
10. Eliminate non-selling activity on the road
Picture this. You’re driving to a client meeting downtown, and your phone buzzes twice. One is an email from a lead, and the other is a phone call from an opportunity. As you pull off to the side of the road, you answer the phone and begin discussing your proposal while scrambling for a pen and paper. You frantically start writing a note to yourself on your smartphone, and as the call ends, you realize you have three minutes to respond to the prospect’s email.
This is the sales process struggle that outside sales reps have been living with for 20+ years. Thanks to the growing development of new smartphone apps and integrations for our most essential business technology, there’s now a series of apps to eliminate non-selling activities like record keeping, lead creation, crm field updating, and more.
While having a personal assistant back at your office is nice, having an AI (artificial intelligence) personal assistant on your phone is even better. Studies at Veloxy have shown that outside sales reps who use Veloxy to eliminate non-selling activity save 1-2 hours every day and $12,500 every year.
Eliminating non-selling activity is a sales strategy that will quickly deliver ROI!
11. Enable yourself to sell from anywhere, any time
While having GPS and sales automation apps running on your mobile phone, you as a outside sales representative are never in the same environment every day. Today you’re in a conference hall. Tomorrow you’re driving from one office park to another. And two days from now you’re going to be in a hotel without your laptop. What is an outside sales rep to do!
As we continue to recommend sales technology to outside sales reps, we also like to promote sales technology consolidation (few solutions, greater productivity) and flexibility. There are truly remarkable sales tools out there, but some are landlocked on a particular device (desktop/laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.).
When you’re demoing sales technology, always ask about accessibility. It’s commonly overlooked, and that’s why we quickly deployed Veloxy Sales AI as an inbox extension (Outlook and Gmail), smartphone app (Droid and Apple), and a web portal. We even had an Apple Watch app for a while!
12. Become a storyteller
Similar to knowing your product, you also need to know case studies inside and out.
Years ago I was working hard to generate leads for an electronic signature software. I noticed that there was a good portion of male prospects that lived within 100 miles of a popular football team. I recalled that one of the case studies was for this very football organization, and they had just signed a superstar quarterback to a multimillion-dollar deal. You guessed it—he signed the contract with the electronic signature software!
I generated dozens of meetings from that tailored approach, but the leads told me it was more than that—it was how I told the story. Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years. Stories are hypnotic, and they’re extremely effective at conveying a message. Be sure you can tell stories confidently to your leads and customers.
13. Deliver content in person
Inside sales reps enjoy using tools like Sendoso to automagically deliver direct mail to their leads. However, inside sales reps are jealous of outside sales reps because they can deliver content in person, and this can have a powerful impact on shortening sales cycles.
We’ve all been there. Our mail is dropped off at our desk, and we flip through it all like a child on Christmas morning, hoping there’s a big prize. Although in a business environment it’s mostly bills and invitations, a piece of marketing content with a fluorescent post-it note works wonders for getting callbacks! ‘Let’s grab lunch. Larry 123-456-7890‘.
If you offer your lead a free lunch, you can rest assure they’re going to read the piece of content that you dropped off.
14. Use data-driven insights to improve engagement
We’ve all been there. We have two meetings in a city one day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Looking at the calendar, we see there are 2-3 hours of open time. What if you knew which prospects and clients in close proximity typically open their emails or answer their phones in that same 2-3 hour window?
That’s right—you’d most likely find them available when you swing by to say hello. These are data-driven insights that many sales tools are delivering to outside sales reps these days. The most powerful data-driven insights are automatically discovered by sales artificial intelligence, and even better, they are also automatically delivered to outside sales reps based on time or geolocation.
Inside sales reps have been using similar insights as a boom to their sales performance, and there’s no better time than now for outside sales reps to take advantage and ride the wave to more deals! Make sure this is one of your top 2021 sales strategies.
15. Collaborate with inside sales reps and the office
What’s your favorite war movie? There are so many good ones. Saving Private Ryan. We Were Soldiers.
In each of these movies, there are scenes where the men on the battlefield radio back to base for commands, for reinforcements, or to strategize the next counterattack. Outside sales reps can learn a lot from such movies because one of the most trending sales process these days is Collaborative Selling.
Collaborative selling used to be a few sales reps chatting about an opportunity. Today, outside sales reps are calling the home office to speak with inside sales about the contact and their top three pain points. They’re also calling product managers and engineers, c-level executives, customer service, and even IT to discover potential customization offerings. It’s truly one of the most effective sales models today.
When prospects and clients learn of these collaborative efforts, they know it’s more than the outside sales rep standing behind them, it’s the whole organization. Talk about building customer loyalty!
16. Join Toastmasters or try an acting class
I have something to admit to you…
I used to be very shy. When the teacher would call me to the front of the class, I froze like a popsicle. Hard to imagine with my personal writing style, right?
After graduating and starting my first sales job, nothing seemed to change—until my sales mentor recommended that I attend the local Toastmasters. After only three months, my family and friends, and even my boss, couldn’t shut me up! I wasn’t just a huge extrovert all of a sudden. I was more confident in what I had to say.
If Toastmasters or other public speaking organizations aren’t for you, I would recommend a local acting theatre. Some of the best sales reps I know acted in high school or college, and some of them still do!
Now I’m not saying you should program yourself to act like a good speaker in front of prospects and customers, rather I’m saying you should find new ways to build confidence in your verbal and physical communication skills. It makes up over 75% of your sales career!
17. Keep taking prospects and clients to dinner
Reciprocity is a powerful tool. You’re given a budget for meals and gas, but successful sales organizations know that there should always be an ample budget for taking prospects/clients out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
This is more than just doing “something nice” for someone. This is about changing the conversation’s environment.
Have you ever worked with a friend? When you chat with them by the coffee pot, your conversation is probably more professional and less casual. But when you change the environment to a bar during happy hour, the conversation radically changes to less professional and more casual chatter. However, if you keep the conversation focused on an opportunity, you’ll learn something new in both arenas.
This is one of the biggest reasons for taking leads and clients out, especially for dinner. The vibe from the social chatter, possibly one or two drinks, a hot nourishing meal, and the gratitude from a free meal can open your lead or client’s “vault” on the true budget, decision-maker, timeline, and many other key points that you can use to close the deal the next day.
18. Use Salesforce Caller ID
We’ve all been there. The phone rings. You look at the screen. It says, “1-123-456-7890, Boston, MA”.
You think to yourself, “Ugh! I have 100s of leads in the Boston area, who could it be?!”
Now imagine looking at your phone and the screen reads, “John Doe, $2.5 M opportunity, TJX Companies, 1-123-456-7890”.
How many more deals would you close if you knew that information before answering the phone?
Probably a lot! There are apps out there that can empower you with such immediate intel, such as Veloxy Sales AI. Of the 1,000s of happy users, this is always a fan favorite.
Next time you hit the road, don’t leave home without Salesforce Caller ID!
19. Be yourself so your personality shows
Recall what I said about confidence and taking public speaking classes. It’s more about building confidence in your face-to-face communication skills, not about acting to close a deal.
Don’t let your seasoned communication skills and professionalism mask your unique personality. It’s usually your personality that attracts friends, partners, and long-lasting clients.
You could have a great sense of humor, or you may offer an empathetic ear to people, whatever it is, you should demonstrate it consistently. Just like marketers and outside sales reps focus on buyer personas, customers too will look for the personalities they like to work with and be around.
But be careful, your leads and customers may like you so much that they may try to friend you on social media, which brings me to my next and final outside sales secret.
20. Use social media (but be careful!)
Social media is a powerful tool in sales. While Facebook can be hit-and-miss based on your industry, Twitter and LinkedIn are great for demonstrating your thought leadership, brand authority, and overall willingness to help your prospects and clients.
LinkedIn is especially good for creating real connections with your target audience. Inside sales reps use LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a secondary email marketing platform. Here is an example of a cadence that outside sales reps like yourself could use:
Email Marketing: Email 1, Day 1 -> Email 2, Day 7 -> Email 3, Day 10 -> Call
Sales Navigator: Message 1, Day 3 -> Message 2, Day 5
Depending on the nature of your relationship with each connection, sales reps have even found it useful to tag connections in the comment section of LinkedIn and Twitter posts.
Lastly, when out in the field, make sure you have your leads and clients social media profiles accessible form your sales software. Visibility into their posts works great for creating new, relevant conversations.
Final Word on Outside Sales Professionals
With the new remote sales world we find ourselves in, outside sales can be forgotten about because of inside sales’ rise up the ranks. One thing is for sure, there are still industries and companies that demand outside sales representatives, and, outside sales reps deliver a more personal, face-to-face relationship, which most humans prefer over alternatives like video conferencing.
Veloxy AI also uncovers sales rep forecasting biases and sandbagging, learning from forecast history so it can give you forecasts you can trust. Get Veloxy for Salesforce CRM and Outlook today and see how all phone calls, emails, and actions drive the pipeline. This will really help your outside sales team to maintain a steady improvement trajectory and bring even more business to your company.
Be sure to read our 15 Inside Sales Secrets too: 10 Inside Sales Gurus Share Their Secrets
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What is Outside Sales / Field Sales?
Outside sales is also referred to as field sales because of the location from which the sales rep works—anywhere in their territory. Also known as “road or air warriors” due to their high amount of travel, outside reps close their deals in person by visiting customers at their office, factory/plant, or anywhere the customer’s product is being used.
You can make the argument that the profession of outside sales was hit harder than any other job during Covid. These salespeople make their money by personally engaging with leads and customers face-to-face, and they rarely work from their company’s home office.
While working from home or a satellite office has advantages during Covid, outside sales reps have had to pivot and meet with leads and customers via video conferencing. This has been a challenge for most as outside reps are typically people-persons, extroverted, and they enjoy a hands-on approach, especially when demoing products.
For those contemplating a career in outside sales, you’ll flourish in your new role if you’re competitive, willing to travel two to three weeks a month, have deep knowledge of a product or industry (or aspire to), and you’re energized by the opportunity to make great commission checks.