What Is Outside Sales? Here’s What You Need to Know

August 31, 2022

If you’re considering a career in outside sales, this is the post for you. Here’s everything you need to know about what is outside sales, the pros and cons, and whether or not it’s right for you.

I was first introduced to outside sales when I was working as a customer service representative at a small company. One of my co-workers was an inside salesperson who worked from our office, but he would also go out on calls with clients occasionally. When he told me about his job, I was intrigued by the idea of being able to get out of the office and meet people face-to-face instead of just talking to them on the phone all day.

Since then, I’ve done some research on what is outside sales and talked to people who work in that field.

What Is Outside Sales?

Before you can decide which sales strategy is right for your company, it’s essential to understand the difference between inside sales and outside sales. Both strategies have distinct advantages.

One big difference between inside and outside sales is where they actually sell.

Most inside sales take place over the phone or online. With advances in technology, inside sales is sometimes referred to as remote sales or virtual sales.

When you are making calls from your office and not meeting in person with your prospects, you are doing inside sales.

This is the exact opposite of outside sales.

The US Department of Labor defines an outside salesperson as “a person who, as a matter of trade or business, sells goods or services away from their employer’s place of business.”

Most outside sales reps spend their time on the road meeting with clients and prospects face to face.

As an independent outside sales representative, you’ll be working mostly remotely, outside of the confines of an office.

While both inside sales and outside sales representatives have similar goals, there are key differences that separate the two.

To be successful as an inside sales rep:

  • You need to be comfortable with handling multiple sales calls and speaking to people on a daily basis.
  • You must be good at multitasking as you will be juggling multiple clients and accounts.
  • You have to be a great verbal communicator and have a great grasp of how to articulate your service or product.
  • You must enjoy working in an office space that rarely changes.
  • You must be able to work well with others, as well as be comfortable in frequent collaboration.

To be successful as an outside sales rep:

  • You have to be very confident and personable when meeting people in person, especially executives and company leaders.
  • You must be emotionally intelligent since you interact with customers face-to-face.
  • You have to be comfortable with being by yourself out on the field and have a high amount of self-motivation.
  • You need to be able to adapt quickly to your surroundings. After all, you will be visiting different businesses on a daily basis. Our 2021 annual field sales benchmark report revealed that the average rep spends 22 hours each week traveling.
  • You need to be flexible and have a keen sense of time management. Things come up and meetings get canceled or rescheduled. When this happens, you need to be able to be productive and make the most of that extra time.
  • You must be able to set your own appointment and work independently.
  • You must dress well every single day. In an outside sales team, your clothing is just as important, if not more important, than what you are trying to sell.

One of the biggest differences between inside sales and outside sales is the length of the average sales process. Once you understand the difference, you can determine whether you’d prefer an inside or an outside role.

Inside sales are a type of transaction-based selling, where deals are smaller and closing times are faster.

With an inside sales team, you’ll have less opportunity to build rapport with your prospects, speak to fewer people in the decision-making process, and won’t be as concerned with developing long-term relationships.

Inside sales reps usually close deals in 90-day cycles. The volume of these transactions is more important than their size.

In contrast, an outside sales team has a longer, more drawn-out sales process that focuses more on building rapport with the decision-makers.

On average, you will be meeting or speaking with 5.4 different people for every new business opportunity.

The average length of a sales process for an outside sales rep is 90+ business days.

Advances in software have enabled salespeople to automate their day-to-day tasks, making their work more efficient and productive.

However, the necessary and most effective tools vary depending on whether it is inside sales or outside sales.

An outside sales rep needs technology to optimize their efficiency and organization while out on the field. This includes territory mapping software that routes them efficiently, as well as a mobile-optimized CRM system.

Other technologies that can help sales reps are tools for prospecting and content sharing while on the road. These can help reps be more efficient.

There are differences between inside and outside sales reps in terms of salary and commission.

The pay structure for outside sales reps and inside reps is different. Outside salespeople, who travel to meet with clients, generally receive a base plus a commission. Inside salespeople, who work at a company’s headquarters, usually only get a salary.

Outside sales is more profitable than an inside sales team because the average deal is larger.

As of 2022, the average salary of outside sales reps in the US is $53,577. This salary figure does not account for the commission. Sales reps may also receive additional compensation, such as travel expenses and the cost of meeting with clients.

The average annual salary for an inside sales rep is still $49,116 which makes it an attractive option for those seeking a stable income.

Just like with outside sales reps, inside reps may receive a commission for the total sales they make.

Experienced salespeople will tell you that the biggest difference between the two is that inside reps don’t have to deal with logistics like traveling.

Inside sales agents make more phone calls than their counterparts working outside the office.

With an inside sales team, you are selling at a lower price point and are focused on getting as many customers as possible. Because of this, you usually do not put too much emphasis on building relationships.

Outside sales focus more on selling high-priced, complex products. Because of this, you’ll likely meet with clients in person.

In this sales role, you’ll be building relationships with key decision makers, identifying their business needs, and presenting solutions.

In outside sales, the reps are tasked with meeting with fewer people than an inside sales rep, so their focus needs to be on the quality of the meetings rather than the quantity.

This is why, according to research by Hubspot, 30.2% of remote salespeople close more deals than their counterparts who sit in an office.

Both inside sales and outside salespeople seldom reach full quotas. The more reps that can achieve their targets, the better off the company will be.

The amount of the quota that is attained by a sales team can help to indicate how successful the team was in achieving its goal.

Only 66% of sales reps meet their quota each year, but for inside sales and outside sales, this is different.

While both inside and outside sales teams have their advantages, it’s the outside team that’s bringing in more revenue.

Since an inside sales rep is remote, their hours are typically set. This makes them more rigid than an outside rep who can be more flexible with their schedules.

This lets management know where their sales reps are and what they’re doing.

However, unlike inside sales, an outside sales rep’s schedule is dictated by their clients. Their day can change from hour to hour depending on what meetings they have.

With 31 appointments a week, their schedules are always subject to change. They may not start their day as early as if they were in an office, for example, if they are planning to meet a client for a meal.

Outside sales reps often cover larger territories than inside ones, which can make it more challenging for sales managers to track their rep’s activities. Because of this, it’s essential that they use a team management tool that can help them oversee their sales team.

Because an outside sales rep has to meet quotas, they’re more result-driven than an inside rep. An inside salesperson can look at how many phone calls or emails are sent, while a manager can see that they’ve done the work.

Sales representatives who work outside are often more independent than their in-office colleagues. Because these reps have more freedom, they may need to demonstrate more initiative and trustworthiness.

How to Decide if Inside Sales or Outside Sales is Right for You

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you may need to consider either an inside sales team or an outside sales team.

Businesses that benefit from inside sales include ones that:

  • Have products valued under $35,000
  • Have a faster sales cycle
  • Are primarily digital
  • Want to reach as many new prospects as possible

Businesses that benefit from outside sales include ones that:

  • Have products valued at over $35,000
  • Have longer sales cycles
  • Require in-depth setup onboarding
  • Want to create long-term relationships with customers

If you’re thinking about joining a B2B company, you should consider whether an inside or an outside team would be a better fit for you. Both types of teams have their own strengths and weaknesses, so most companies use both.

Businesses should utilize both inside sales and outside sales teams to maximize their efficiency.

Having separate inside and field sales reps can be great for separating your lead generation and prospecting efforts.

This is ideal for teams selling to two different customer types, such as small-to-medium businesses and large enterprises.

Outside sales reps can build relationships with larger businesses, while inside reps can handle smaller accounts.

By outsourcing your inside sales to a team of specialists, your reps can concentrate on landing bigger deals with your largest clients.

This organizational structure allows both an inside sales team and an outside team to work together on the same lead.

The benefits of having an inside team are numerous. Not only can they identify and contact qualified leads to start the sales conversation, but they can also do initial research before field sales reps visit them in person.

While inside sales reps can gather information about what customers are looking for, they can also identify what features would be most beneficial to outside salespeople.

By working closely together, your inside and outside teams can both be more effective. Your inside team can provide valuable support to your team of sales reps, and your outside sales reps can focus solely on selling.

Companies are realizing that the lines between their inside sales and outside sales departments are becoming more blurry.

Before COVID-19, a lot of the work of inside sales reps involved sitting in an office and communicating with customers and clients on the phone and through the internet.

Instead of hiring two separate teams, hybrid teams are staffed with salespeople who can perform both roles.

If you have a small team or if your sales team is spread out over a large geographic area, then you may want to consider having a mix of inside and outside salespeople. Keep in mind that your reps will need to be more skilled than if they were only doing one or the other.

A different approach is needed when managing a hybrid sales team. When they are in the office, they need to maximize their productivity. When they are on the road, they need to use that time wisely.

If you’re looking to spend less time on tedious tasks and more time on making actual money, then an outside sales team is your best bet. This will free you up to focus on what you do best, which is to sell.

Reducing time spent driving and waiting, as well as wasted steps, ensures that your sales team has ample time for inside and outside selling.

What is An Example of Outside Sales?

An example of outside sales is a salesperson who goes door-to-door to sell products or services.

What is The Job of Outside Sales?

Outside sales representatives typically work for companies that provide goods or services that can be sold remotely, such as insurance or office supplies. They may also work for companies with multiple locations that need someone to coordinate sales efforts between different branches.

Is Outside Sales a Good Career?

There are many factors to consider when determining whether outside sales is a good career. Some pros of outside sales include the ability to control your own schedule, the potential to earn a high income, and the opportunity to meet new people.

However, some cons of outside sales include long hours, working in all weather conditions, and being away from home for extended periods of time.

Ultimately, whether or not outside sales is a good career depends on your individual preferences and goals.


There you have it. We have laid out what is outside sales and how it is different from inside sales processes. Outside sales is a great career choice for people who are outgoing and enjoy working with others. However, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that come with this type of job before making your decision. If you’re willing to put in the work, though, an outside sales career can be very rewarding both personally and professionally.

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