Apply These 15 Secret Techniques to Improve your Outside Sales

15 Great Outside Sales Tips for Small Business

An outside sales agent goes to where the prospect is. They make appointments and travel to the client’s locations to meet face-to-face. They don’t have set hours and fixed schedules even if their companies do.

On the other side of the coin, inside sales agents can best be defined as people who work from the office or home base remotely. Inside sales can trace its roots back to what we used to call telemarketing.

Digital Technologies

Although digital technologies like email and videoconferencing has tipped the balance toward inside sales and blurred the distinction between the two, small businesses especially still see the need to build relationships face-to-face.

That said, here’s 15 great outside sales tips that can help to bump your bottom-line.

Outside Sales Tips

Define Your Goals

You need to know where the starting line is by putting together some benchmarks. If you have a good idea about how many new customers you’ll need in what time frame, you can develop strategies from that starting point.

Here’s a quick formula you can use. If you multiply the number of customers you’ll need by the sale price of what you’re selling, you’ll get a dollar figure in revenue you should be shooting for.

Understand Your Product

Working in the field means you’re going to need to have insider information to close the sale. Just knowing the name of the product and a few taglines the marketing department uses isn’t good enough.

You’ll need to drill deep and come up with some kind of specifications or metrics that separate your goods and services from the competition. You can even talk to people in engineering or assembly departments to get an inside scoop before you head out on the road.

Sell to Their Needs

Making the sale and unloading one product or service is good — but understanding your clients needs means you’ll be able to make more sales down the road. If you take the time to ask them a few questions, you’ll be able to understand their needs and match them up with an upsell or cross sell.

Start by asking them directly what areas they’re trying to improve.

Be Pleasant

One of the best ways to sell when you’re on the road is to look for personal connections. Being charismatic and pleasant will help people to drop their guard so you can understand more about what they need. You can start this type of conversation by noticing and commenting on things in a prospects’ office like award or pictures.

Stay Focused

Outside sales reps have lots of goals to reach and clients to see. Staying focused for each and every one will help to increase your closing rates. Letting go of the conversation you had in the lunchroom or something unsettling that was said in a meeting will help you to stay in the present moment and focused before you make a sales call.

Set Your Sales Bar High

If you keep hitting your sales targets over and over again, the bar might be too low. Setting benchmarks that actually intimidate you will force you to get creative and find new ways to close deals.

Deploy Analytics

A lot of outside sales success has to do with building relationships and reading personal cues.  However, don’t forget to take advantage of digital technology like analytics. It’s a simple and straightforward way to find out what’s selling in what part of your territory and who it’s selling to.

Analytics are even better if you can find a software template that has sales forecasting included.

Find Business Pain Points

Being a top-notch outside sales rep means being able to find the individual problems that your prospects’ businesses are facing. To be successful here you need to ask the right questions like what takes up most of a small business owners time each day.

 Build Value

Because you will be dealing with people directly, one of the most important things you can do is make sure they understand the benefits and features of working with you. Building value means highlighting what separates you from the other companies in the same space like experience.

Do Your Research

It’s important to do some research before you make a sales call if you want to be a stand apart outside sales leader. Social media channels like LinkedIn can be invaluable in a business sense. You can find an angle for a personal connection on other sites like Twitter.

Adopt a Flexible Approach

If you been in sales for a while, you probably have a few different templates you use depending on the industry and prospect.  Being able to improvise and be flexible is a great way to bump your numbers up. Some general conversation about sports and the weather can give you a good opening but you’ll need to be ready to change your sales approach to suit any kind of opened door that follows.

Handle Rejection Gracefully

One of the unalterable truths about outside sales specifically and any kind of sales generally is you’ll be rejected more often than accepted. It’s going to be disappointing but you need to look past initial rejection by setting yourself up for a possible future sale.

Leaving a good impression with a handshake and a smile on your way out means you’ve never burned a bridge.

Be Upfront With Pricing 

Being secretive about your pricing has a lot of unintended consequences. Your company might have them listed on the website, but every situation could be different in a face-to-face sales call. That’s why you should always be straightforward and if there’s no exact price, explain all the different factors that drive cost openly.

Synchronize Your Efforts

One of the bigger mistakes you can make as an outside sales rep is not realizing someone has talked to a prospect before you. Sharing emails between people in your small business that are working on the same contract is helpful.

Everyone who works under the same roof should learn how to use the company CRM.

Don’t Be Negative  

Running the competition down during a sales call accomplishes only one thing—it makes the prospect you’re talking to suspicious. Even if they have a bad experience to share with you, it’s best to stay neutral.


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.