What Is Outside Sales? Outside Sales In A Nutshell

Outside sales occur when a salesperson meets with prospects or customers in the field. This sort of sales function is critical to acquire larger accounts, like enterprise customers, for which the acquisition process is usually longer, more complex and it requires the understanding of the target organization. Thus the outside sales will cut through the noise to acquire a large enterprise account for the organization.

Understanding outside sales

Outside sales representatives conduct sales in the field via face-to-face interactions in a location convenient to the prospect or customer.

The work environment of an outside sales professional tends to be less formal and more autonomous since it is outside the confines of an office setting. While the attractiveness of increased freedom cannot be denied, it is important to note that outside sales reps may be required to work on-demand according to the client’s schedule. This often means ensuring they are available outside of normal work hours.

Each outside sales representative may have a territory assigned to them and be responsible for educating the prospect about a product or service. What’s more, they must make their own travel arrangements and be flexible to scheduling changes or delays. Unlike inside sales professionals, those in outside sales place more emphasis on their physical appearance and need to be in the mood to entertain and network whenever the need arises.

Responsibilities associated with outside sales 

Here is a more succinct look at the responsibilities associated with the outside sales profession:

  1. Establish and nurture business relationships through regular meetings.
  2. Demonstrate the suitability of a product or service vis-à-vis solving customer problems. This can be done with presentations, hands-on tutorials, and case studies.
  3. Set and achieve monthly sales quotas.
  4. Attend events, conferences, and conventions to present a product to service to interested parties.
  5. Monitor the market for new entrants that could become competitors.
  6. Map the various locations of clients using an app for territory and customer mapping.
  7. Set up sales appointments using mobile CRM tools or by visiting prospects in person.
  8. Research a prospect’s pain points in advance or be able to determine them from face-to-face interaction.
  9. Utilize an outside sales app to keep a record of all customers, sales, hours worked, and generate reports based on tasks assigned and tasks completed.
  10. Manage expenses associated with car rental, airline tickets, accommodation, and client entertainment such as restaurants and sporting events.

What traits does an outside sales rep need to possess?

At the very least, an outside sales rep needs to possess a Bachelor’s degree in communications, business, economics, or marketing. Similar qualifications that show experience in customer engagement may also be adequate.

They must also have a strong phone presence and be confident initiating conversations with prospects. Since no day in outside sales is the same as the last, the individual must also be adept at problem-solving in a diverse range of contexts.

Some of the more obvious traits include strong interpersonal skills, extraversion, detail-orientation, and the motivation and discipline necessary to work autonomously.

Key takeaways:

  • Outside sales occur when a salesperson meets with prospects or customers in the field.
  • Responsibilities associated with outside sales include the ability to build relationships, demonstrate products, attend events and conventions, monitor the market for new entrants, and map the location of customers in a sales territory.
  • Outside sales require the individual to possess a strong phone presence and be able to problem-solve in diverse contexts. A Bachelor’s degree in communications, business, economics, marketing, or similar is essential.

Related Business Concepts

Business Development

Business development comprises a set of strategies and actions to grow a business via a mixture of sales, marketing, and distribution. While marketing usually relies on automation to reach a wider audience, and sales typically leverage on a one-to-one approach. The business development’s role is that of generating distribution.

Marketing vs. Sales

The more you move from consumers to enterprise clients, the more you’ll need a sales force able to manage complex sales. As a rule of thumb, a more expensive product, in B2B or Enterprise, will require an organizational structure around sales. An inexpensive product to be offered to consumers will leverage on marketing.

New Product Development

Product development, known as the new product development process comprises a set of steps that go from idea generation to post-launch review, which help companies analyze the various aspects of launching new products and bringing them to market. It comprises idea generation, screening, testing; business case analysis, product development, test marketing, commercialization, and post-launch review.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

User Experience Design

The term “user experience” was coined by researcher Dr. Donald Norman who said that “no product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” User experience design is a process that design teams use to create products that are useful and relevant to consumers.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Empathy Mapping

Empathy mapping is a visual representation of knowledge regarding user behavior and attitudes. An empathy map can be built by defining the scope, purpose to gain user insights, and for each action, add a sticky note, summarize the findings. Expand the plan and revise.

Perceptual Mapping

Perceptual mapping is the visual representation of consumer perceptions of brands, products, services, and organizations as a whole. Indeed, perceptual mapping asks consumers to place competing products relative to one another on a graph to assess how they perform with respect to each other in terms of perception.

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.

Read the remaining product development frameworks here.

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