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.

DefinitionOutside Sales, also known as field sales or external sales, is a sales approach where sales representatives or agents travel to meet clients and prospects in person to sell products or services, build relationships, and close deals. It contrasts with inside sales, which relies on remote communication methods like phone or email.
Key ConceptsFace-to-Face Interaction: Sales representatives engage with clients and prospects in physical meetings. – Relationship Building: Emphasis on building trust and rapport through personal interactions. – Product Demonstrations: The ability to showcase and demonstrate products or services directly. – Targeted Prospecting: Identifying and visiting high-potential clients or leads. – On-Site Support: Providing on-site assistance and solutions.
CharacteristicsPersonal Touch: Offers a personal and customized approach to sales. – High-Value Sales: Often used for complex or high-value products or services. – Travel: Requires extensive travel to meet clients at their locations. – Longer Sales Cycles: Typically involves longer sales cycles due to relationship-building aspects.
Examples– A pharmaceutical sales representative meeting with doctors to promote and provide samples of medications. – An industrial equipment salesperson visiting manufacturing facilities to demonstrate machinery. – A real estate agent showing properties to potential buyers. – A business consultant meeting with clients to discuss tailored solutions.
AdvantagesRelationship Building: Allows for strong personal connections with clients. – Effective for Complex Sales: Suited for products or services that require in-depth explanation or customization. – Trust-Building: Face-to-face interactions can build trust more effectively. – Product Demonstrations: Enables hands-on product demonstrations.
ChallengesHigh Costs: Involves significant expenses related to travel and logistics. – Time-Consuming: Requires substantial time investment for travel and in-person meetings. – Limited Reach: May not be suitable for reaching a large number of clients or prospects. – Geographic Limitations: Can be challenging in regions with vast territories or remote areas.
Adoption TrendsOutside Sales remains essential for industries where personal relationships and on-site demonstrations are critical, such as pharmaceuticals, real estate, and industrial equipment. Advances in technology have also enabled hybrid models that combine in-person and remote sales strategies.
ConclusionOutside Sales is a sales approach that relies on in-person meetings and personal interactions with clients and prospects. While it offers the advantage of building strong relationships and demonstrating products effectively, it also involves substantial costs and time commitments. Choosing the right sales approach depends on the nature of the products or services and the target audience.

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.

Examples of Outside Sales:

  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative: These professionals visit healthcare providers in their offices or hospitals to promote and sell pharmaceutical products.
  • Real Estate Agent: Real estate agents meet with clients, show properties, and negotiate sales in person, often outside of a traditional office setting.
  • Insurance Sales Agent: Insurance agents meet with potential clients to discuss insurance needs, provide quotes, and sell insurance policies, often at the client’s location.
  • Software Sales Executive: These professionals visit businesses to demonstrate software solutions, provide personalized consultations, and close sales deals.
  • Advertising Sales Representative: Advertising sales reps meet with businesses to discuss advertising opportunities, present advertising packages, and secure contracts.
  • Medical Equipment Sales Representative: They visit healthcare facilities to showcase and sell medical equipment, ensuring it meets the needs of the institution.
  • Financial Advisor: Financial advisors meet with clients in person to discuss financial goals, recommend investment strategies, and manage financial portfolios.
  • Wholesale Account Manager: These individuals meet with wholesale customers to manage accounts, discuss product needs, and negotiate contracts.
  • Construction Sales Representative: They visit construction sites, meet with contractors, and provide construction materials or equipment solutions.
  • Automobile Salesperson: Car salespeople meet with customers at dealerships, offer test drives, and negotiate vehicle purchases.
  • Manufacturing Equipment Sales Representative: They visit manufacturing companies to sell machinery and equipment required for their production processes.
  • Industrial Supplies Sales Representative: Professionals in this role visit industrial businesses to sell supplies such as safety equipment, tools, or raw materials.
  • Wine Sales Representative: These reps visit restaurants, bars, and wine shops to promote and sell wines to establishments and distributors.
  • Educational Sales Representative: They meet with educational institutions to sell textbooks, educational software, or teaching materials.
  • Trade Show Exhibitor: Companies send representatives to trade shows and conventions to showcase products and services, engage with potential clients, and generate leads.
  • Farm Equipment Sales Representative: These reps visit farms to sell agricultural machinery, tractors, and farming equipment.
  • Telecommunications Sales Representative: They meet with businesses to discuss and sell phone systems, internet services, and communication solutions.
  • Catering Sales Manager: Catering sales managers meet with clients to plan and coordinate catering services for events and functions.
  • Energy Sales Representative: They visit residential or commercial clients to discuss energy solutions, such as solar panels or energy-efficient products.
  • Textile Sales Representative: Professionals in this role visit clothing manufacturers or retailers to sell fabrics, textiles, and fashion products.

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.

Key Highlights of Outside Sales:

  • Definition: Outside sales involve salespeople meeting prospects or customers in person, often in the field. This approach is crucial for acquiring larger accounts, especially enterprise customers, due to their longer and more complex acquisition process.
  • Face-to-Face Interactions: Outside sales representatives engage with prospects and customers through face-to-face interactions, usually in a location convenient for the client.
  • Work Environment: Outside sales roles are less formal and more autonomous, offering increased freedom. However, these professionals may need to work on-demand, including outside regular office hours.
  • Territory Management: Outside sales reps often have assigned territories and are responsible for educating prospects about products or services. They must handle their own travel arrangements and be flexible with scheduling changes.
  • Emphasis on Appearance and Networking: Physical appearance and the ability to entertain and network are more critical for outside sales compared to inside sales roles.
  • Responsibilities: Key responsibilities of outside sales reps include building and nurturing business relationships, demonstrating product suitability, meeting sales quotas, attending events and conferences, monitoring the market for competitors, and managing client locations using mapping tools.
  • Appointment Setting: They set up sales appointments using mobile CRM tools and research prospects’ pain points in advance or through face-to-face interactions.
  • Expense Management: Outside sales reps are responsible for managing expenses related to travel, accommodation, and client entertainment.
  • Required Traits: Traits for success in outside sales include a Bachelor’s degree in relevant fields, strong phone presence, problem-solving skills in diverse contexts, interpersonal skills, extraversion, attention to detail, and self-motivation for autonomous work.

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 a one-to-one approach. The business development’s role is that of generating distribution.

Sales vs. Marketing

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.

Sales Cycle

A sales cycle is the process that your company takes to sell your services and products. In simple words, it’s a series of steps that your sales reps need to go through with prospects that lead up to a closed sale.


RevOps – short for Revenue Operations – is a framework that aims to maximize the revenue potential of an organization. RevOps seeks to align these departments by giving them access to the same data and tools. With shared information, each then understands their role in the sales funnel and can work collaboratively to increase revenue.


In negotiation theory, BATNA stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement,” and it’s one of the key tenets of negotiation theory. Indeed, it describes the best course of action a party can take if negotiations fail to reach an agreement. This simple strategy can help improve the negotiation as each party is (in theory) willing to take the best course of action, as otherwise, an agreement won’t be reached.


In negotiation, WATNA stands for “worst alternative to a negotiated agreement,” representing one of several alternative options if a resolution cannot be reached. This is a useful technique to help understand what might be a negotiation outcome, that even if negative is still better than a WATNA, making the deal still feasible.


The ZOPA (zone of possible agreement) describes an area in which two negotiation parties may find common ground. Indeed, ZOPA is critical to explore the deals where the parties get a mutually beneficial outcome to prevent the risk of a win-lose, or lose-win scenario. And therefore get to the point of a win-win negotiation outcome.

Revenue Modeling

Revenue modeling is a process of incorporating a sustainable financial model for revenue generation within a business model design. Revenue modeling can help to understand what options make more sense in creating a digital business from scratch; alternatively, it can help in analyzing existing digital businesses and reverse engineer them.

Customer Experience Map

Customer experience maps are visual representations of every encounter a customer has with a brand. On a customer experience map, interactions called touchpoints visually denote each interaction that a business has with its consumers. Typically, these include every interaction from the first contact to marketing, branding, sales, and customer support.

AIDA Model

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. That is a model that is used in marketing to describe the potential journey a customer might go through before purchasing a product or service. The AIDA model helps organizations focus their efforts when optimizing their marketing activities based on the customers’ journeys.

Social Selling

Social selling is a process of developing trust, rapport, and a relationship with a prospect to enhance the sales cycle. It usually happens through tech platforms (like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more), which enable salespeople to engage with potential prospects before closing the sale, thus becoming more effective.

CHAMP Methodology

The CHAMP methodology is an iteration of the BANT sales process for modern B2B applications. While budget, authority, need, and timing are important aspects of qualifying sales leads, the CHAMP methodology was developed after sales reps questioned the order in which the BANT process is followed.

BANT Sales Process

The BANT process was conceived at IBM in the 1950s as a way to quickly identify prospects most likely to make a purchase. Despite its introduction around 70 years ago, the BANT process remains relevant today and was formally adopted into IBM’s Business Agility Solution Identification Guide.

MEDDIC Sales Process

The MEDDIC sales process was developed in 1996 by Dick Dunkel at software company Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). The MEDDIC sales process is a framework used by B2B sales teams to foster predictable and efficient growth.

STP Marketing

STP marketing simplifies the market segmentation process and is one of the most commonly used approaches in modern marketing. The core focus of STP marketing is commercial effectiveness. Marketers use the approach to select the most valuable segments from a target audience and develop a product positioning strategy and marketing mix for each.

Sales Funnels vs. Flywheels

The sales funnel is a model used in marketing to represent an ideal, potential journey that potential customers go through before becoming actual customers. As a representation, it is also often an approximation, that helps marketing and sales teams structure their processes at scale, thus building repeatable sales and marketing tactics to convert customers.

Pirate Metrics

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.


The general concept of Bootstrapping connects to “a self-starting process that is supposed to proceed without external input.” In business, Bootstrapping means financing the growth of the company from the available cash flows produced by a viable business model. Bootstrapping requires the mastery of the key customers driving growth.

Virtuous Cycles

The virtuous cycle is a positive loop or a set of positive loops that trigger a non-linear growth. Indeed, in the context of digital platforms, virtuous cycles – also defined as flywheel models – help companies capture more market shares by accelerating growth. The classic example is Amazon’s lower prices driving more consumers, driving more sellers, thus improving variety and convenience, thus accelerating growth.

Sales Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Enterprise Sales

Enterprise sales describes the procurement of large contracts that tend to be characterized by multiple decision-makers, complicated implementation, higher risk levels, or longer sales cycles.

Outside Sales

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.


A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Sales Distribution Framework

Zero to One is a book by Peter Thiel. But it also represents a business mindset, more typical of tech, where building something wholly new is the default mode, rather than building something incrementally better. The core premise of Zero to One then is that it’s much more valuable to create a whole new market/product rather than starting from existing markets.

Palantir Acquire, Expand, Scale Framework

Palantir is a software company offering intelligence services from governments and institutions to large commercial organizations. The company’s two main platforms Gotham and Foundry, are integrated at enterprise-level. Its business model follows three phases: Acquire, Expand, and Scale. The company bears the pilot costs in the acquire and expand phases, and it runs at a loss. Where in the scale phase, the customers’ contribution margins become positive.

Consultative Selling

Consultative selling is a sales approach favoring relationship building and open dialogue to adequately meet the needs of a prospective customer. By building trust quickly a consultative selling approach can help the customer better meet her/his expectations and the salesperson hit her/his targets more effectively.

Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) enables a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Importantly, a USP enables a business to stand for something that they, in turn, become known among consumers. A strong and recognizable USP is crucial to operating successfully in competitive markets.

Read: product development frameworks here.

Read Next: SWOT AnalysisPersonal SWOT AnalysisTOWS MatrixPESTEL AnalysisPorter’s Five ForcesTOWS MatrixSOAR Analysis.

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