What is Outside Sales? Everything You Need to Know in 2024

outside sales rep departing for a client meeting

The sales world is huge, and if you’re in the biz, you’ve probably dabbled in both inside and outside sales roles. But if you’re thinking about switching to outside sales, or just want to step up your game in field selling, you’ve landed in the perfect spot.

In this blog post, we’re diving into the world of outside sales. We’ll explore effective strategies, essential skills, and the tools you need to not just survive but thrive in this growing yet demanding career path.

Ready to find out what outside sales really is? Let’s kick off this adventure and master the art of field selling together!

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Defining Outside Sales: A Closer Look

Outside sales involves the practice of selling products and services through direct, in-person interactions, distinctly setting it apart from inside sales, which is conducted remotely or in an office.

This mode of sales enables professionals to operate with a higher level of autonomy, often working independently and engaging directly with clients to build strong customer relationships.

Notable companies such as Johnson & Johnson (go here) and Cisco Systems (go here) offer competitive outside sales positions, where salaries can vary significantly based on factors like experience, industry, and commission structure.

You get to travel, enjoy lots of freedom, and need a solid grasp of emotional intelligence. Typically, you’ll handle bigger, pricier accounts than those in inside sales. The real game-changer? Your talent for meeting clients face-to-face to close deals. This ability to connect personally with clients is what really makes you stand out. Successful outside sales reps thrive on crafting and sustaining direct relationships with potential customers.

The Role of an Outside Sales Representative

an outside sales representative meeting with clients

An outside sales representative, or sales rep for short, plays a crucial role by engaging directly with both potential and existing customers. Here’s a look at what their day typically involves:

  • Direct Sales: They sell face-to-face at locations like conferences, trade shows, and customer offices.
  • Schedule Management: They handle their own time, working independently and managing their schedules to optimize their sales activities.
  • Travel: Frequent travel is part of the job, meeting customers where they are to strengthen relationships and close deals.
  • Relationship Building: Maintaining and nurturing relationships with current customers is as crucial as establishing new ones. They ensure ongoing engagement and seek opportunities to expand their network during industry events and speaking engagements.
  • Active Participation: They are deeply involved in every step of the sales process, from prospecting to closing, ensuring they understand and meet customer needs effectively.

This role is ideal for those who thrive on autonomy and are skilled in managing both their time and client relationships effectively. Organization and proactive engagement are key to succeeding in outside sales.

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Key Factors Driving Outside Sales Growth

The boom in outside sales owes a lot to a few critical factors: the demand for personalized customer service, ramped-up competition, and the surge in digital technologies.

As businesses increasingly appreciate the impact of face-to-face meetings on forging deeper customer bonds, you, as an outside sales rep, need to tweak your strategies to keep up with the competition.

The shift towards digital tools has massively reshaped outside sales. Staying relevant and effective in your pitches now means getting on board with the latest digital solutions. For instance, using tools like Veloxy’s Salesforce Automation can drastically cut down on your manual workload and boost your productivity, making it easier for you to hit your targets consistently.

outside sales rep using Veloxy field sales software

Essential Skills for Thriving in Outside Sales

To really excel in outside sales, you need a special mix of skills that blends sharp communication, adaptability, and solid problem-solving. Being a great communicator isn’t just about talking; it’s about making genuine connections. This skill helps you build strong, trust-filled relationships with your customers and your teammates.

Your problem-solving skills are just as crucial. They allow you to spot issues your clients or potential customers are facing, come up with customized solutions, and demonstrate just how valuable those solutions can be. It’s all about showing your customers that you’re not just there to sell, but to make their lives easier.

Building Customer Relationships

Building solid customer relationships is absolutely crucial in outside sales. The success of a salesperson hinges on their ability to establish and maintain direct relationships with potential customers.

Trust is the cornerstone of these relationships because when customers trust you, they are more likely to:

  • Come back for future sales,
  • Develop deeper relationships,
  • Enhance the lifetime value of their engagements, and
  • Show greater loyalty to your brand.

To forge these strong customer bonds, you need to be great at one-on-one interactions. It’s about really understanding what your clients need and delivering solutions that genuinely help them. This kind of personal touch not only builds trust but also strengthens rapport, smoothing out the sales process and boosting your chances of success.

By always putting the customer’s needs first and showing you truly care, you can create enduring relationships that don’t just lead to sales, but to loyal customers who come back time and again.

outside sales rep delivering value based consultation

Navigating Autonomy in Sales

Autonomy is a big part of outside sales. It gives you, the sales rep, the freedom to manage your own schedule and tasks. But handling this freedom well can be tough.

You’ve got to have plenty of self-discipline, ace time management skills, and a good dose of motivation. Setting clear goals, keeping a tight schedule, and using time tracking tools are just a few ways you can keep yourself on track.

To really tap into self-motivation, you might find it helpful to reward yourself for hitting targets, break your tasks down into bite-sized pieces, and keep everything organized. These strategies can help you make the most of your independence and drive your success in the sales world.

Leveraging Technology in Outside Sales​

In today’s fast-paced sales world, harnessing technology is essential for any outside sales pro. Tech helps you stay organized, automates your routine tasks, and boosts your efficiency— all of which can lead to better sales results.

Using a multichannel approach lets you connect with potential customers more effectively and ramp up your sales performance. Tools like Veloxy’s guided selling feature are game changers. They streamline your communication, making sure you’re always on top of your game by reminding you of the actions you need to take or even automating some of your communications with clients.

The Sales Process in the Field

outside sales representative using outside sales software, Veloxy

The sales process for outside sales reps is all about prospecting and sealing the deal, each requiring its own set of unique skills and tactics. When you’re prospecting, you’ll need to keep up with consistent follow-ups, set clear goals, and really know your product inside out. Closing deals, on the other hand, usually involves a well-structured follow-up strategy, deep product knowledge, and a solid understanding of your sales territory.

As a sales rep, you should:

  • Always put the customer’s needs first.
  • Be quick to provide quotes.
  • Remain flexible to different selling approaches.
  • Ensure you follow up consistently to close deals effectively in the field.

Prospecting Strategies

outside sales representative meeting prospects at networking event

Efficient prospecting strategies are key for any outside sales rep looking to expand their customer base. Networking is crucial—it helps you forge new connections and strengthen existing ones. Get involved in industry events, stay active on social media, and make the most of platforms like LinkedIn.

Social media isn’t just about posts and likes; it’s a powerful tool for prospecting. You can pinpoint which platforms your ideal customers use most, share compelling customer stories, and even use social proof to boost your sales credibility. Plus, it’s great for researching prospects and their businesses in depth.

Cold calling and cold emailing also pack a punch if you get them right. For these tactics to work in your favor, consider these steps:

  • Break down your prospect list to target more effectively.
  • Use organizational charts and insights to understand company structures.
  • Tailor your approach to each prospect.
  • Always be prepared and confident.
  • Don’t forget to follow up.

By sticking to these guidelines, you’ll boost your chances of success in turning cold contacts into warm leads.

Closing Techniques

Closing deals in outside sales often requires a personalized approach and sharp negotiation skills. Here are some of the most effective techniques that you can use:

  • Highlight the Value: Make sure to reiterate what the customer is buying and stress the value and benefits of each item.
  • Create Urgency: Use the ‘Now or Never’ tactic to create a sense of urgency that can prompt a quicker decision.
  • Build Relationships: Always work on building a positive relationship and showcasing your expertise, which can make all the difference.
  • Listen Carefully: Ask questions and really listen to the prospect’s responses. Understanding their needs and concerns will help you tailor your pitch.

Negotiation is crucial in the art of closing sales. It bridges what the buyer needs with what you’re offering. To be successful, you need to be a skilled negotiator who can persuasively overcome objections and clearly demonstrate the value of your products or services.

Compensation Structures in Outside Sales

a sales representative comparing different compensation structures

The way we pay outside sales reps can include several components, each playing a part in attracting and keeping the best talent:

  • Base Salary: This is a set amount you get paid, no matter your performance.
  • Commission: This part of your earnings is based on the sales you make.
  • Bonuses: These are extra payments you earn by hitting specific targets.

Offering competitive pay is essential if you want to attract and keep top-notch talent in your sales team.

When you’re weighing the costs of employing inside versus outside sales reps, don’t forget to consider:

  • Travel expenses
  • Accommodation costs
  • Office space rent
  • Equipment costs

Remember, outside sales folks often have higher expenses due to their need to travel and stay overnight, unlike their inside sales counterparts who typically have lower overhead costs. It’s crucial to strike the right balance between these two roles when you’re putting together a sales team.

Tools and Technology for Modern Outside Sales Teams

a modern outside sales rep utilizing Salesforce CRM software with Veloxy outside sales software

Today’s outside sales teams rely heavily on cutting-edge tools and technology to boost their performance and stay competitive in this ever-changing sales landscape. Take CRM software, for instance; it gives you a deep dive into your sales pipeline, ramps up your efficiency, and streamlines your workflows.

Call tracking software is also a game-changer. It syncs up your voice software with other communication channels, making it easier to touch base with prospects and giving you the context you need for effective follow-ups.

Then there’s lead generation software, an essential tool for any outside sales team. Here’s what it helps you do:

  • Find and organize leads,
  • Make communication smoother,
  • Bring together various prospecting and enrichment tools,
  • Create detailed lists of leads,
  • Build comprehensive customer profiles,
  • Keep you up-to-date with the latest industry trends and tech.

By leveraging these tools, you can significantly enhance your sales performance, making sure you’re not just keeping up but staying ahead.

The Evolution of Sales Models: Inside vs Outside

inside and outside sales reps

As the sales landscape keeps shifting, the roles and responsibilities of inside and outside sales reps are constantly evolving.

Inside sales teams focus on moving volume, aiming at SMB and mid-market buyers with more cost-effective products that don’t need much deliberation from the customers. On the other hand, outside sales concentrate on snagging high-value, top-quality accounts and chasing major customers who bring a higher average contract value.

Inside sales teams have become crucial in this dynamic setting. They’ve adapted to the changing times, especially with the technological leaps and the way we all do business now. Take the pandemic, for instance—it pushed a quick shift from face-to-face events to remote selling, making it necessary for outside sales folks to get comfortable with the technologies and tactics previously more typical of inside sales.

As our sales world continues to morph, staying adaptable and tweaking strategies to meet the ever-changing needs of customers is key for any sales organization looking to thrive.

Structuring Your Sales Team for Success

Setting up your sales team for success means taking a strategic approach that plays to the strengths and meets the challenges of both your inside and outside sales reps. By syncing up their sales goals and encouraging teamwork, you can build a unified sales strategy that not only drives results but also boosts your bottom line.

It’s crucial to equip your team with the right resources, tools, and training. These support mechanisms help your sales force hit their targets and maintain a healthy balance between work and life. Providing these essentials isn’t just about meeting quotas; it’s about creating an environment where your salespeople can truly thrive.

sales meetings

Aligning Sales Goals

Aligning sales goals between your inside and outside teams is key to driving a unified strategy and maximizing your business’s performance. It’s crucial to set shared goals, enhance teamwork, provide independence, sync up strategies, and keep the lines of communication open.

Tackling common hurdles like the marketing-to-sales handoff, disjointed systems, inconsistent data, and mismatched goals requires improved communication and collaboration. By integrating systems, clarifying data management processes, and ensuring goals are well-aligned and regularly discussed, you can really streamline operations.

When you sync up the goals of your inside and outside sales teams, your organization can enjoy:

  • Boosted revenue and profit growth rates,
  • Higher customer satisfaction,
  • Better teamwork and smoother coordination across teams,
  • An increase in qualified leads,
  • And improved customer retention rates.

Collaboration Between Inside and Outside Sales

Working together seamlessly between inside and outside sales teams is crucial for hitting top sales performance and driving the overall success of your business. To ensure effective collaboration, it’s vital to align sales goals, boost teamwork, and continuously support your sales reps with the resources they need.

By joining forces, your inside and outside teams can better manage their time, especially when it comes to scouting new prospects. This teamwork provides real-time alignment between groups, helps forge stronger customer relationships, promotes a collaborative process, and enhances communication across the board.

Tackling common challenges that both inside and outside teams face—like communication gaps, differing priorities, varied working styles and backgrounds, a competitive edge, and departmental silos—is possible with increased dialogue, cooperation, and backing from sales managers and leaders. By nurturing a collaborative atmosphere, your sales organization can enhance its performance and sustain business growth.

virtual meeting between inside and outside sales

Transitioning from Inside to Outside Sales: A Guide for Sales Professionals

If you’re a sales professional thinking about making the jump from inside to outside sales, it’s crucial to get ready for a whole new set of responsibilities and challenges that come with field selling. Here’s what you’ll need to master to make it work:

  • Researching Potential Customers: Get to know who you’ll be dealing with.
  • Networking: Build connections within your industry.
  • Using Social Media: Harness the power of online platforms to boost your visibility and reach.
  • Attending Industry Events: Be present where it matters to catch up with trends and meet potential clients.
  • Cold Calling: Don’t shy away from reaching out to potential customers directly.

Success in outside sales also means fostering a customer service mindset and developing relationships not just with clients but also with your colleagues. These relationships are your support network and can ease your transition.

To really nail the transition, you’ll need to pick up new skills and strategies that suit the dynamic nature of field selling. This includes adapting to changing schedules, managing your travel efficiently, and keeping a healthy balance between work and your personal life. By embracing these changes and prioritizing strong customer relationships, you can excel in your new outside sales role and make a significant contribution to your organization’s success.

Balancing Act: Managing Travel and Sales Targets

Managing travel and hitting your sales targets in outside sales is all about finding the right balance. As a sales rep, you’ve got to smartly manage your time and resources to meet customer needs and amp up your sales game. Here are some effective time management practices that can help:

  • Employ the 80/20 Rule: Focus on the 20% of your efforts that produce 80% of your results.
  • Time Batching: Group similar tasks together to reduce task-switching and save time.
  • Cut or Delegate Non-Essential Tasks: Streamline your workload by getting rid of or assigning less critical tasks.
  • Single-Tasking: Concentrate on one thing at a time for better focus and efficiency.
  • Plan Efficient Routes: Map out your travels to minimize time spent on the road.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Keep your energy up and your mind clear by stepping away from work at regular intervals.
  • Use a CRM System: Keep track of customer interactions and sales progress efficiently.

By adopting these strategies, you can better manage your travel schedule and really boost your sales potential.

Moreover, leveraging technology can take your management of travel logistics to the next level. Consider:

  • GPS and Location-Based Tools: Use these to find the quickest and most efficient travel routes.
  • Data and Feedback: Utilize insights to refine your sales territories and optimize routes, improving overall sales performance.
  • Stay Organized and Connected: Keep everything in order and maintain strong communication with prospects and clients, no matter where you are.

With these tactics, you can maintain a healthy balance between traveling and meeting sales targets, ensuring your long-term success in outside sales.

Cultivating a High Performing Sales Team in the Field

Building a top-notch outside sales team means getting the right mix of hiring, training, and ongoing support to help your sales reps reach their peak. When hiring, using objective measurements and evidence-based decision-making beats going with your gut. This approach ensures you bring on board only the best performers.

Once you’ve got the right people, providing them with extensive training is key to honing their selling techniques, skills, and processes. Consider enrolling them in proven programs like:

But it doesn’t stop there. Continually supporting your sales team is just as important. Regular feedback, clear objectives and expectations, and well-defined incentives and rewards keep everyone on track and motivated. Plus, making sure they have access to the latest sales tools, technology, and additional training resources can boost their performance even further, driving up sales and increasing revenue for your company.

outside sales seminar

Navigating Challenges Unique to Outside Sales

Outside sales reps face a unique set of challenges that can really test their mettle. These include:

  • Establishing Trust Remotely: Building rapport without face-to-face interactions.
  • Coordinating with Marketing and Sales Teams: Ensuring smooth operations across different departments.
  • Gathering Customer Feedback: Actively seeking and integrating client insights.
  • Managing Extensive Travel: Covering long distances and spending substantial time on the road.
  • Standing Out from Competitors: Differentiating themselves in a crowded market.
  • Navigating Long Sales Cycles: Dealing with extended timelines from contact to close.
  • Finding Quality Leads: Securing enough qualified inbound leads.
  • Boosting Brand Recognition: Increasing awareness in a competitive landscape.
  • Avoiding Unqualified Leads: Minimizing time spent on leads with low conversion potential.
  • Connecting with Decision-Makers: Reaching and influencing the right people.

To tackle these challenges, sales reps need to craft effective strategies and make the most of the tools at their disposal. Optimizing travel time, distance, and costs, aligning activities with sales goals, streamlining expenses, leveraging technology, and staying organized are all crucial for managing travel logistics efficiently.

Moreover, they can improve their handling of fluctuating schedules by:

  • Utilizing Scheduling Technology: Keeping track of appointments and commitments.
  • Strategizing Routes and Goals: Planning the most efficient paths and clear objectives.
  • Prioritizing and Allocating Time Wisely: Focusing on what matters most.
  • Incorporating Planned Breaks: Staying fresh and alert.
  • Using CRM Tools: Keeping customer data accessible and actionable.
  • Practicing Effective Communication: Ensuring clarity and understanding in all interactions.

By mastering these strategies and maintaining a balanced approach to work and life, outside sales reps can excel in their roles and drive substantial success in their selling efforts.

Get Shorter Sales Cycles as an Outside Sales Rep with Veloxy

As the Cofounder and CEO of Veloxy, I’m excited to share how our field sales software can transform your sales process, maximizing your efficiency and significantly shortening your sales cycles. 

At Veloxy, we understand the challenges of field sales, which is why we’ve developed features like optimal route planning, geolocation intelligence, and prospect discovery right where you are—so you can close deals faster and more efficiently than ever before. 

Our platform is designed to be accessible from any device, enabling you to offer a personalized, consultative experience that meets and exceeds customer expectations.

screen shot of field sales software

Veloxy is more than just a tool—it’s a comprehensive solution designed to streamline your day and empower your sales efforts. We help you maximize your territory coverage, visualize sales territories intelligently, and plan effective field sales trips with integrated artificial intelligence that identifies the hottest buy-now opportunities. These capabilities ensure you’re always bringing the most value to every customer interaction.

By using Veloxy, you put yourself in command of features typically managed by marketing departments, from email tracking to accessing in-depth sales intelligence about your contacts and decision-makers. This empowers you to proactively meet customer needs, anticipate challenges, and seamlessly adapt to the ever-changing sales landscape. Join us at Veloxy, and see for yourself how our top-performing field sales professionals leverage these tools to stay ahead and succeed. Start transforming your sales strategy today and watch your performance soar.

Final thoughts on Outside Sales

In conclusion, outside sales offers a dynamic and rewarding career that demands a special blend of skills, strategies, and tools for success. By fully understanding the nuances of outside sales, managing your autonomy effectively, forging strong customer relationships, mastering the sales process in the field, leveraging modern tools and technology, and tackling the unique challenges that come your way, you can truly excel in your role as a field sales professional.

If you’re ready to take your outside sales skills to the next level, why not join Samir for a free masterclass? It’s your chance to learn from one of the best and get hands-on tips that you can apply directly to your sales strategy. Plus, start a free trial of Veloxy, the #1 outside sales mobile app, to see just how much easier managing your sales efforts can be with the right tools at your fingertips. It’s time to step up, embrace the exciting world of outside sales, and unlock your full potential as a sales professional!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of outside sales?

Outside sales involve traveling to customers’ locations, such as their offices or events like conferences and trade shows, to make a sales pitch, demonstrate products, and create relationships. Cold calling and door-to-door sales are some of the main methods used in outside sales.

Is outside sales a hard job?

Outside sales can be challenging due to the need for independent working and good time management skills. However, having a system in place such as a daily schedule can help manage the job successfully.

Is outside sales better than inside sales?

Outside sales may come with higher costs due to travel and lodging, but often result in deeper customer relationships, bigger sales, and higher salaries. In fact, outside salespeople typically work on higher-value deals and have a 10% higher average quota than inside sales agents. Overall, outside sales appears to be the more profitable option.

What is an outside sales representative job description?

As an outside sales representative, you will be responsible for conducting face-to-face customer interactions out in the field with both potential and existing customers, providing the best possible customer experience as well as hands-on product demonstrations.

What are some effective prospecting strategies for outside sales representatives?

Networking, leveraging referrals, and utilizing social media are effective ways for outside sales representatives to reach out to new prospects.

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Samir Majumdar

Samir Majumdar

Samir is the CEO and Co-founder of Veloxy. After spending 20+ years creating corporate systems, boosting revenue, and eliminating inefficiencies, Samir started Veloxy to help sales professionals shorten sales cycles, accelerate pipelines, and close more deals.

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