Outside sales involves sales representatives traveling to meet clients face-to-face, as opposed to inside sales where interactions are primarily remote, conducted via phone, email, or online platforms. The idea vs outside sales is simple: pack a bag, travel, and meet potential or existing clients in their own environment.
The Face-to-Face Factor
The value of face-to-face interaction in outside the sales cycle cannot be overstated. Think of it like this: some things just can’t be fully conveyed through a screen or over a phone call. Meeting in person allows for a deeper understanding of the client’s needs, the opportunity to build stronger relationships, and often leads to closing bigger deals.
The Complexity Angle
This approach is particularly useful for selling complex or high-value products and services. Whether it’s industrial machinery, real estate, or specialized software, these are not offerings that can be easily explained or sold over a quick phone call. Detailed presentations and even live demos are often necessary.
The Travel Element
Travel is an integral part of outside sales. It can be both time-consuming and exhausting, but it’s part of the package. The role often involves visiting different cities or even countries, all in the pursuit of sealing the deal.
Outside sales is the practice of meeting clients face-to-face, often in person meetings sometimes involving travel. It is particularly effective for selling complex or high-value products and services, where the nuances of the offering and the client’s needs are best understood in person.
The Pros and Cons of Outside Sales
Building Personal Connections
The ability to build strong, personal relationships is one of the major advantages of outside sales. Face-to-face meetings allow for a level of rapport that’s hard to achieve through emails or phone calls.
Tailoring Custom Solutions
Meeting clients in person provides a unique opportunity inside sales professionals to understand their specific needs and challenges. This enables the sales representative to tailor solutions that are highly customized and more likely to solve the client’s problems.
Outside sales is often the go-to strategy for high-value or complex deals. The in-person interaction outside sales professionals allows for detailed discussions and negotiations, making it easier to close larger deals.
The time spent traveling to meet clients can be significant for sales professionals, reducing the time available for other sales activities. This is especially true for sales reps who cover large geographical areas.
Traveling isn’t cheap. There are costs for flights, accommodations, meals, and other expenses that can add up quickly, impacting the overall profitability of the sales process.
Being physically present means being geographically limited. Sales reps can only cover a certain area, which may limit the number of the potential customers and clients they can reach.
Outside the sales model has its pros and cons. While it excels in building strong relationships and is effective for high-value deals, it comes with the downsides of time commitment, higher costs, and geographical limitations.
Key Skills for Outside Sales Reps
Effective communication is crucial in outside and inside sales rep too. Sales reps need to be able to convey complex information clearly and persuasively, whether it’s during a presentation or a casual conversation.
With travel and meetings taking up a significant chunk of time, excellent time management skills are essential. Sales reps need to plan their days meticulously to make the most out of each client visit.
A deep understanding of the product or service being sold is a must. This knowledge not only helps in answering client queries but also in tailoring the sales pitch to address specific client needs.
Understanding client needs goes beyond just hearing what they say. Emotional intelligence allows the sales team and reps to read between the lines, understand the client’s emotional state, and adapt their approach accordingly.
The success of an outside sales rep hinges on a set of key skills: effective communication, time management, deep product knowledge, and emotional intelligence. Mastering these skills can significantly improve the chances of outside reps of closing high-value deals and building strong client relationships.
Tools and Technologies
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is indispensable for managing client interactions, leads, and sales data.
Route Planning Apps
Being efficient on the road is crucial. Route planning apps help optimize travel routes to save both time and fuel.
Virtual Presentation Tools
While the essence of outside sales is in-person interaction inside sales reps, virtual presentation tools can be invaluable for follow-up meetings or situations where a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible.
Mobile Office Solutions
The ability to work from anywhere is a key advantage in outside sales. Mobile office solutions can turn a car or a coffee shop into a temporary workspace.
Sales Enablement Platforms
These platforms provide reps with the resources they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.
The effectiveness of an outside sales rep can be greatly amplified with the right tools. From Salesforce for CRM to Waze for route planning and Zoom for virtual presentations, these tools are not just optional but essential for a modern, outside sales representative operation.
How to Transition from Inside Sales to Outside Sales
Steps to Prepare for the Transition
Transitioning from an inside sales role to an outside sales role requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some steps to consider:
Skill Assessment: Evaluate the skills you already possess and identify areas for improvement.
Training: Take courses or workshops to fill in the gaps in your skill set.
Tips for Balancing Both Roles
For those who find themselves juggling both inside and inside sales vs outside of sales responsibilities, here are some tips:
Time Management: Allocate specific days or time slots for inside and outside sales activities.
Client Segmentation: Prioritize clients based on the type of interaction they require.
Challenges to Expect
Transitioning roles is never without its hurdles. Here are some challenges to prepare for:
Adapting to New Tools: Learning to use route planning apps or specialized CRM features.
Client Relationship Management: Building relationships in person can be different from doing so remotely.
Transitioning from an inside sales team to outside sales is more than just a change of scenery; it’s a shift in sales strategy and skill set. Preparation, time management, and adaptability are crucial for successfully making the switch.
The Pharmaceutical Rep
Pharmaceutical sales reps often rely on outside side sales teams to engage healthcare providers. They bring samples, present research data, and build relationships that can last for years.
Example: A rep from Pfizer visiting various healthcare centers to introduce a new vaccine.
The Industrial Equipment Seller
Selling industrial equipment often involves detailed demonstrations and negotiations existing customers. Outside sales reps in this field may even bring engineers along for client visits.
Example: A Caterpillar rep showcasing a new excavator model at a construction site.
The High-End Software Consultant
In the tech industry, outside sales teams and reps often deal with complex software solutions that require in-depth explanations and custom configurations.
Example: An Adobe sales consultant visiting a design agency to demo the latest features of Adobe Creative Cloud.
The Real Estate Agent
Real estate is a classic example of an industry that relies heavily on inside sales vs. on outside sales. Agents meet clients at properties, offer tours, and negotiate deals in person.
Example: A Coldwell Banker agent hosting an open house to attract potential buyers.
Real-world examples from various industries demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness of an outside sales team. Whether it’s pharmaceuticals, industrial equipment, high-end software, or real estate, outside sales plays a critical role in building relationships and closing deals.
Summing It Up
Outside sales is a dynamic and challenging field that offers unique opportunities for building strong client relationships and closing high-value deals. While it comes with its own set of challenges, such as time commitment and travel expenses, the rewards often outweigh the drawbacks for those who excel in this role.
For those interested in diving deeper into the world of outside sales, there are plenty of resources available to expand your knowledge and skills.
“SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham
“The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
“The Salesman Podcast”
“The Advanced Selling Podcast”
LinkedIn Learning: “Outside Sales Strategies”
Udemy: “Mastering the Art of Outside Sales”
The journey into outside sales is both challenging and rewarding. With the right skills, tools, and mindset, it offers a pathway to significant career growth. For those looking to further their understanding, books, podcasts, and courses provide valuable insights.
Outside Sales – FAQ
What are the different types of outside sales?
There are primarily two types of outside sales:
Field Sales: Field sales reps visit potential or existing clients in their business settings. This is common in B2B sales.
Direct-to-Consumer: Sales reps visit consumers in their homes or at public places. This is more common in industries like real estate or high-end retail.
What are the skills and qualities needed for outside sales?
Key skills and qualities include:
Resilience and Persistence
What is the typical salary range for outside sales representatives?
The salary can vary widely depending on the industry, location, and level of experience. However, a typical range might be between $50,000 and $80,000 per year, with additional commissions and bonuses.
What are the challenges of outside sales?
Some common challenges include:
Time Management: Balancing travel and sales activities.
High Costs: Travel and lodging expenses.
Geographical Limitations: Limited to a specific area or region.
How do I prospect for new customers?
Prospecting methods can include:
Social media outreach
Referrals from existing clients
How do I build relationships with customers?
Building relationships involves:
Providing valuable insights and solutions
Understanding and meeting the client’s needs
How do I close a sale?
Closing a sale often involves:
Addressing all client concerns
Asking for the sale directly or using a closing technique like the “assumptive close.”
How do I manage my time effectively?
Effective time management strategies include:
Setting specific goals
Using tools like CRM software and route planning apps
How do I stay motivated?
Staying motivated can be achieved by:
Setting achievable targets
Celebrating small wins
Keeping the end goals in sight
How do I avoid burnout?
Avoiding burnout involves:
Taking regular breaks
Setting realistic expectations
Balancing work with personal time