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Outside sales: What is it and how to apply it in your business

What is outside sales and how can it help you boost conversaions and meet your customer's needs.

Rose McMillan · April 24, 2024
Outside sales: What is it and how to apply it in your business

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Studies suggest that 93% of our communication is non-verbal. Video calls don't catch everything so inside sales reps might struggle to pick up on body language over Zoom or Google Meet calls. This problem grew when work from home took off, moving many sales chats online.

Outside sales can fix this. It puts sales people and potential buyers in the same room. This way, reps can read the room and adjust their pitch. They see the nods, the hesitations, and act on them helping them to seal the deal.

Today, we'll examine the outside sales process, how it works, and how to do it right.

What is outside sales?

Think of outside sales (otherwise known as field sales) as selling that happens out and about, not behind a desk.

Sales reps meet clients face-to-face, in meeting places, showing products, or chatting over coffee. The core is to get personal and understand what the client needs by being right there with them.

Benefits of outside sales

Outside sales can bring noteworthy benefits, such as:

  1. Building strong bonds: Meeting in person lets you connect on a higher level. You understand clients and they see you as more than just another email.
  2. Closing more deals: In some industries, outside sales may drive more conversions. This is because sales reps can help answer questions immediately, and adjust pitches as needed.
  3. Understanding prospects: Seeing where your clients work, and what their day looks like, gives you insight into their daily work lives and the problems they face..
  4. Showing not telling: Outside sales helps you show off your product in person. A live demo is more convincing than any brochure or video call.
  5. Learning on the go: Every visit, every chat, every sentence gives you clues into your prospects needs.

Closing a purchase isn't the only aspect of outside sales. Developing long-lasting relationships, getting to know your customers well, and making sure your services are a perfect fit for them are all important. It takes effort, but the rewards are totally worth it.

Outside sales vs inside sales

Let's compare outside sales vs inside sales. Inside sales reps work from the office or home. They use phones, emails, and video calls to reach out to prospects and negotiate deals. It's quick and covers more ground. Yet, it might lack a personal touch. Outside sales reps take a different path. They travel, meeting clients face-to-face.

It can be pricer, with travel costs quickly adding up, however, this direct interaction often leads to more completed deals. The average conversion rate for outside sales is 40% but with inside sales this drops to 2% in B2B industries. Inside sales reps might dial more people daily, but outside salespeople cultivate deeper relationships and have a better chance of closing.

Skills and qualities of an outside sales rep

What actually makes a good outside sales rep? Spoiler alert: it's not just about hitting the road. It’s more on how you chat, persuade, and keep pushing forward.

Communication skills

Talking is great, but listening? That's gold. Great reps listen, really hearing what clients need. Then, they tailor their pitch and close the deal.

You shouldn't just throw information at prospective customers. Have clear, simple conversations to make sure you understand one another. This builds trust, and leads to more and better deals.

This also applies to communication with teammates. Outside sales reps need to know how to work as a team, motivate coworkers, and help each other.

Persuasion and negotiation skills

Convincing someone isn’t about being pushy, it’s about identifying common ground and then assisting them to understand how your solution meets their needs. It is a dance: you take the lead, and they follow – but smoothly and respectfully. You are solving their problem, not simply selling a product.

Self-motivation and resilience

No one said this would be easy. Sales reps will hear "no" a lot. What makes them stand out? Not giving up.

Good sales reps set goals, then chase them without pushing. Outside sales reps learn, adapt, and keep going. That drive? It's what closes deals.

Time management and organization skills

Nail your schedule. Keep things tight and concise. Great reps know when to meet, when to call, and when to follow up. Missed meetings? Not a chance. They use productivity tools to stay on track. This way, they hit more goals and waste less time.

Product and industry knowledge

Know what you're talking about – from the inside out. Top salespeople advise rather than just sell. They learn everything there is to know about their product and the industry. Having this understanding enriches discussions, and turns pitches into solutions. Clients buy trust in a product, not simply the product itself.

Relationship building

Connect, don't just contact. Building relationships is everything, solid sales reps remember names, details, and needs. They check in, offer help, and stay present. Quick selling is one thing – but forming bonds that last is another, and this is what top sales professionals aim for. This trust turns clients into advocates for your brand.

Outside sales representative responsibilities

Prospecting and lead generation

Outside sales reps scout for new leads. They use cold calls, network, and research the market. Finding fresh prospects is their bread and butter – and each day, they aim to grow their list.

Product presentations and demonstrations

Reps showcase products, highlight features, and tackle problems. Presentations and demos are key. They show how solutions fit. According to the DemandGen Report, buyers explore 5-8 vendors before buying. This stat shows the value of presentations, as they are a chance to clear doubts and answer questions. Effective presentations lead to informed decisions.

Account management

Reps don't just sell – they support. They check in with clients, solving issues, and suggesting upgrades. Happy customers are their mission, and they always go the extra mile to keep the relationship strong and beneficial.

Territory management

We already mentioned that planning is crucial. Reps map out their areas and schedule visits efficiently. They strategize to meet the right people at the right time. They focus on maximizing their reach within their territory.

Sales forecasting and reporting

Reps predict future sales and track progress. They set targets and share updates and use reporting to keep teams informed. This way, everyone is on the same page, they know where they stand and where they're headed.

Negotiating and closing deals

Reps need to negotiate terms and work through objections on a daily basis. They align their solutions with customer needs. 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”.

The goal is to seal the deal and guarantee a perfect match between the product and the client. Outside sales reps need to be persistent without being pushy.

Collaboration with internal teams

Teamwork wins. When coordinated with marketing, product development, and other departments they can close (more) sales. Aligning efforts keeps everyone on track.

Building a successful outside sales strategy

Building a successful outside sales strategy starts with knowing when to choose this path. In some cases, outside sales may be the natural choice based on personal preferences.

It's perfect for when a personal touch matters most. Think high-value deals, complex products, or services that need a demo. It suits businesses where relationships drive sales, like in B2B sectors, luxury goods, or customized solutions.

If your product demands detailed explanations or if you're in a niche market, face-to-face meetings can make all the difference. Essentially, they bring value to the table, right where the client is.

So, when deciding on outside sales, consider:

  • the nature of your product,
  • the importance of relationships,
  • and the market you're in.

This strategy isn't for every business. But in the right situations, it's your best bet for deep connections and big wins.

Think outside sales would be a good fit for you? Learn how to build a strategy around it.

Step 1: Identify your target market and customers (ICP)

Start by pinpointing who's likely to buy what you’re selling. Understand the specifics of your ideal customer profile (ICP).

What challenges do they face? Where do they look for solutions?

Get this right, and you’re not just shooting arrows in the dark – but aiming with precision. It’s about researching, identifying, and confirming who needs your product the most; and it shapes everything you do next. From crafting messages to choosing where to focus, knowing your ICP puts everything you need in place.

Step 2: Develop a sales process

Now, it’s time to sketch out how you’ll turn prospects into customers. Identify key stages: lead generation, initial contact, presentation, handling objections, and sealing the deal.

For each stage, define clear actions.

What tools will you use? How will you move from one step to the next?

The right sales cycle is your strategy for consistent wins, as it keeps everyone on the same page and focused on the goal. Solid planning here means smoother sailing ahead.

Step 3: Set SMART goals and targets

Setting goals gives you targets to hit. But not just any goals – SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

This framework sharpens your focus.

We want to earn more revenue. That’s not SMART.

"We want to score five $10k+ construction industry deals in the next 6 months. That’s SMART.

It tells you exactly what success looks like and when you want to achieve it. Such clarity can motivate your team like nothing else. It also helps track progress and adjust tactics as needed. Without goals, you’re wandering blindly but with them, you’re on a mission.

Step 4: Create a sales pitch and value proposition

Your sales pitch and value proposition explain why someone should choose you.

Start with the value proposition. What unique benefit does your product offer? This will make the core of your pitch. Then, build your sales pitch around it. Make it engaging, focused, and personal. Show that you know your audience.

The best pitch speaks directly to their needs and how you can meet them. It’s less about listing features and more about painting a picture of a better reality with your product in it. People buy benefits, not features.

Step 5: Assign sales territory

Dividing the market into clear territories is super important. Assign each sales rep a specific slice. This strategy provides thorough coverage and prevents reps from stepping on each other's toes. When assigning the “zones”, consider geography, customer demographics, or business size.

Match territories to your reps' strengths and where they can make the biggest impact. This method lets reps specialize, gaining deep knowledge of their area. They'll spot opportunities faster and be able to build stronger local relationships.

Step 6: Use technology

Leverage technology to keep ahead. A solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system keeps track of customer interactions and sales progress. Route planning apps make travel efficient. Sales enablement tools give instant access to necessary materials and productivity apps organize tasks.

These tools save time, make information accessible, and improve customer interactions. With the right tech, your team can focus more on selling and less on admin.

Step 7: Measure KPIs

Keeping an eye on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is non-negotiable. Sales volume, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction are just the start. These metrics shed light on the team's performance and guide strategic decisions.

Regular KPI checks help you tweak your approach and highlight areas that need improvement. They guide your sales strategy, showing where you’re headed and how fast you're getting there. If you’re struggling, you might need to adjust your KPIs.

Step 8: Incentivise and motivate

Motivation fuels success. To inspire your sales team, craft incentive programs with compelling rewards. If you’re a sales team leader, consider these examples:

  • Bonus for top performers: Each quarter, offer a cash bonus or a percentage of the sales to the top three outside sales representatives. It rewards high performers and sets a benchmark for success.
  • Extra vacation days: Provide extra vacation days for salespeople who exceed their quotas. Such an incentive is highly valued among employees for the extra personal time it affords, as it encourages a healthy work-life balance while motivating them to achieve their sales targets.
  • Weekend getaways: Reward exceptional performance with an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway. This could be a relaxing beach vacation or an adventurous mountain retreat.

Public recognition of success boosts morale and helps you build a competitive yet collaborative atmosphere. Consider creating a communication channel where you will recognize your team's achievements. Well-thought-out incentives push your team to reach and exceed their goals and help retain top talent.

Overcoming challenges in outside sales process

The road to outside sales may be bumpy - but it won't be if you prepare yourself and your team. Here's how to tackle some common hurdles head-on and transform obstacles into opportunities.

Dealing with rejection and setbacks

Rejection stings, but it’s part of the game in sales.

Learn from each rejection. What worked? What didn't? What could be improved? Adjust your approach. Celebrate small wins, too. Resilience turns setbacks into comebacks. Keep pushing, keep refining – sales success is about persistence.

Managing time and territory effectively

Time flies – especially in sales so plan your day in advance.. Prioritize tasks and use tech tools to route your visits and cut down travel time.

Know your territory like the back of your hand. Focus on high-potential areas first. On top of that, block time for admin work and stick to this routine.

Sales reps spend only 35% of their time on selling. Good time management means more time for sales.

Adapting to changing market conditions

Markets change fast, so you need to keep up. Stay informed about your industry. Read news, reports, and trends, listen to your existing customers, too, they often see changes coming first. Use their insights to adjust your strategy.

Also, be ready to shift gears. A flexible approach lets you seize new opportunities. This way, you're always ahead, never left behind.

Handling competition

Competition is everywhere. Know your rivals as well as you know yourself. What are they offering? Find your edge and how you can stand out. Sometimes it's service; other times, it's quality or innovation.

Use this knowledge in your sales pitch. Show how you stand out, keep an eye on their moves so you can counter swiftly. Remember, the goal isn't just to compete; it's to win.

Prospecting

Keep your pipeline full, a steady flow of prospects means a steady flow of sales.

Where does your audience hang out? What do they read? Use this info to target your outreach, and never stop. Keep building your list and don't let it get stale.

Don't just rely on online avenues to accomplish this, consider going offline. Due to your experience with outside sales, you should find it easy to connect with potential prospects at fairs or industry events.

Logistics and travel

Travel smart in sales and plan your visits strategically. Cluster appointments in the same area to save time and fuel. Use apps for route planning to find the quickest paths. Also, always have a Plan B for travel disruptions.

Your productivity and sales can increase in no time with efficient travel planning.

Tools and technology for outside sales strategies

CRM software for managing customer data

Capsule CRM has a lot to offer for outside sales teams, as it helps them organize client info on the go.

Here's more reason why it's top-notch for those in the field:

  • Contact management: Capsule keeps track of your contacts. You see everything: who they are, what they need, past talks. Walk into meetings prepared, every time.
  • Email marketing & tools: Send emails straight from Capsule. It works with Outlook and Gmail. No switching apps. No wasted time. You stay in touch easily.
  • Tasks & calendar: Capsule CRM reminds you of your to-dos. Meetings, calls, follow-ups – it's all there. You never miss a beat.
  • Sales pipeline: See your deals in one view. Where do things stand? Capsule helps you focus on the right leads.
  • Sales analytics: Capsule breaks down your sales data. You see what works and what doesn’t, so making smarter moves becomes simple.
  • Projects: Manage sales projects without leaving Capsule – everything from pitch to close can happen in one place.
  • Workflow automation: Capsule automates the busywork. Follow-ups, task assignments – it's all automatic. You spend time selling, not typing.
  • AI content assistant: Capsule's AI writes emails for you. Fast, accurate, and personal. You communicate more, with less effort.
  • Mobile app: Capsule has a built-in mobile app perfect for sales reps on the move.

Presentation tools

  • Prezi: Break away from traditional slides. Prezi adds motion.
  • Slidebean: Let AI handle the design, so you can focus on your message.
  • Canva: Create professional-looking presentations without any design skills.

Scheduling tools

  • Calendly: Ends the back-and-forth of booking meetings – now, clients pick a time based on your open slots. You can integrate Calendly with Capsule CRM, too.
  • Doodle: Finds the best time for group meetings by polling availability.
  • Acuity Scheduling: Your clients can book directly into your calendar, and you will receive automatic reminders.

Social media and online platforms for prospecting

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Tailored for sales pros, it's perfect for finding and connecting with LinkedIn prospects before you meet them on-site.
  • Twitter: Ideal for following industry trends and engaging with potential clients.
  • Facebook Ads: Allows you to target specific groups, e.g., via remarketing after you've met them.

Conclusion

The outside sales process is not for everyone, as it requires adaptability and travel. Ideal for high-value, personalized interactions, it can be effectively implemented with thorough training and strategic planning. And when executed well, it can boost long-term customer relationships and sales success.

When working along with inside sales, it creates a dynamic, comprehensive sales strategy. But to discover all the benefits of outside sales, you simply need to give it a try. With Capsule CRM, it’s easier than ever before!

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