Whether you are recently out of college or making a career change, with continued growth in the demand for outside sales reps, now is the perfect time to solidify yourself in a successful field sales career.
As someone new to the role, it is natural to want to learn how to be successful in outside sales. Great sales reps weren’t born that way. Sure, there might be some inherent character traits that fit better in outside sales, and superstar reps may make it look easy. But, great performance continually usually indicates a salesperson started their career with a foundation of great training and successful techniques that were instilled early on. They have taken the time to hone their skills and are constantly learning and growing to better help their prospects. This can be you too!
In this article, we’ll break down what you should expect as a new outside sales rep, and more importantly, some essential tips to help ensure sales success.
Outside Sales vs Inside Sales
You may be wondering, what does an outside sales rep do? What does an outside sales rep’s day look like? Not all sales jobs are the same. Especially when it comes to outside sales versus inside sales and there are some distinct variations between the two. Understanding this is an important aspect of becoming a successful outside sales rep. Some of the biggest aspects of field sales that you should understand first:
- You’ll Be Dealing With Clients Face To Face: One of the biggest differences between the two is the fact that with outside sales you will be constantly out on the road traveling to meet with clients face to face. Versus inside sales where you would be communicating with clients only through the phone or email.
- Your Workplace Changes Frequently: In outside sales, with traveling to meet clients, every day brings new faces and challenges. Unlike inside sales, in outside sales it is important to be able to easily adapt to changing surroundings. Because of this, you must stay driven, resourceful, and dedicated.
- You Are In Charge Of Your Schedule: You won’t have a supervisor scheduling your selling time. You're responsible for managing your schedule of sales appointments from day to day and stay flexible. If an appointment has to be delayed or canceled, you have to be able to think quickly and fill time effectively.
- You Are Your Own Daily Supervisor: Outside sales positions will be prone to more distractions compared to inside sales. You won’t have a supervisor looking over your shoulder so it’s important to practice habits that will keep your productivity high and stay focused.
- You’ll Be Fostering A Different Skillset: With the daily, changing environment you’ll be dealing with in outside sales, there is a different skill set that often does well compared to inside sales. Successful outside sales reps are often confident and outgoing in social situations, good public speakers, and because they are interacting with clients in person, have a high emotional intelligence (also known as EQ). Also, because you’ll be setting your own schedule and being your own supervisor, good outside sales reps are independent and adapt to change easily.
- You Have To Dress To Impress: In outside sales, your appearance makes just as much of an impact as what you are actually selling. Dressing to impress each day, no matter how you initially feel, will speak to your professionalism and attention to detail when meeting with customers. It will also give you a boost of confidence because you know you look good.
But, being successful in outside sales is more than just looking the part, traveling to meet customers, and shaking hands. There are some key things that you can make a habit of early on in your outside sales career to ensure long-term success and growth.
Much of the foundation, formed around effective habits, is (and should be) built within your first few months on the job.
What To Expect In The First 90 Days
As a new outside sales rep, it is natural to be nervous at first because you want to excel and be successful right out of the gate. That drive is a key trait of great field sales reps. To be successful, it’s also important to understand what to expect initially. Within your first 90 days, you’ll learn not only what you’ll be doing on a day to day basis and what is expected of you, but more importantly, the most effective ways to meet those expectations.
In the beginning, you should think of yourself as a sponge. Because more than likely your training process will be built around a structured 30-60-90 day onboarding plan where you’ll be learning a lot. This plan will outline exactly what you should accomplish in the first 30, 60, 90 days on the job. It will also help you build that foundation of effective sales habits from day-to-day.
Let’s break into a 30-60-90 plan to give you a further idea of what it might look like:
The first 30 days:
During your first 30 days is when the core of your sales foundation is built. This is the “information-gathering phase”. This part of onboarding is where you’ll:
- learn everything you need to know about the company and what you’ll be selling
- learn the sales process and the target market/customers
- get to know the rest of your team and supervisors
- participate in team training sessions, in-person meetings, and self-study sessions with video and print material to ensure you fully grasp everything you need to know about the company, what you are selling, and how to sell it effectively.
The second 30 days:
In the second 30 days on the job (the “60” phase), you will be putting all of those fundamentals you learned so far into action and becoming a “shadow” in the field. This is where you start to get your feet wet. Much of this part of your training will be:
- practicing sales techniques through role-play with your teammates and sales leaders
- performing demo presentations
- participate in constructive video coaching
- spend time in the field shadowing experienced sales team members and meeting clients and prospects to start fostering relationships
The third 30 days:
During this “90” phase, you should be at a point where you are comfortable to hit the ground running and start making a name for yourself in your sales career. This is the time where you’ll:
- put what you have learned so far into action in the field through customer meetings and demos
- see what works and what may not be working through live interaction with customers and prospects
- hone your prospecting skills and pinpointing new business opportunities
- continue to get coaching and make adjustments where necessary.
Tips On How To Be A Successful Outside Sales Rep From The Start
When you are first starting your sales career as a new outside sales rep, there are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you’ll start off on the right foot. These will also help ensure you build the habits of highly effective sales professionals and maintain that for the long run. Here are some key ones to remember:
- Set & Focus On Your Goals:
Successful sales reps (and successful people in general) structure their days around clear goals. Work with your sales manager and team to make sure you have clear sales goals and measure yourself against them. Also, set personal goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to set goals that push you past your comfort zone.
- Strive To Know Your Product Better Than Anyone Else:
As we touched on above, in your first 30 days during training you’ll be learning all about the products or services you’ll be selling. Aim to know the product like the back of your hand. Not just the details but also the solutions your products and company offers. Learn as much information you can, including performance metrics, customer success stories, technical inputs, etc. The more you truly know about your product the better you can sell solutions that answer your customer’s pain points.
- Ask Questions & Don’t Be Afraid To Continue To Do So
To be successful as a sales rep, get in the habit of asking questions and always be ok with asking questions. You should always want to be learning more. This applies to both asking questions of your manager and experienced colleagues but also your prospects. When asking questions of your manager and colleagues, you’ll be constantly picking up new and effective knowledge and skills, learning where you can improve, reducing your learning curve, and showing you are eager for professional development.
In asking questions of your prospects, you’ll hone the valuable skill of active listening and learn how to more effectively provide solutions that can solve their pain points.
- Find & Utilize A Mentor
Asking questions and learning from your peers is extremely beneficial. But to take that up a notch and help ensure long-term sales success and career growth, link up with a mentor. Work with someone who has found career success in sales and has accomplished the milestones and achievements you would like to. They can help you plan and grow your career. They can even offer guidance on sales certifications to get to advance your career. Ideally, you want to meet monthly with your mentor.
- Be Prepared
Few things will lose a sale faster than a sales rep showing up unprepared. Start making it a habit early on to be fully prepared for your day, most importantly your sales meetings. Being well prepared, knowing your customer’s pain points, and ready to answer questions and effectively deal with objections will demonstrate your competence and professionalism. Staying prepared for what your day is scheduled to bring will also keep you focused, efficient, and ready to crush your goals.
- Embrace Technology
Successful sales professionals know how effective it is to work smarter and not harder. One way to do this is to take advantage of the ever-increasing sales technology that is available. There are great tools available that can help you automate routine tasks, increase productivity, improve time management, and boost your performance. For example, using sales enablement software can help you optimize your sales route, reduce windshield time, and pinpoint new sales opportunities.
Get Started Right
As a new sales rep, it is entirely possible to set yourself up for long term success from the start. If you understand what you will be doing and what to expect in the beginning, you can start to implement some effective habits into the foundation you build within the first 90 days on the job.
Utilize the resources and people around you and strive to work effectively and efficiently. Always be looking to learn and build on your sales career. By incorporating the tips above into your days, you can become a top-selling rep that is consistently meeting expectations and continuing to grow as a sales professional.