Outside sales, as opposed to inside sales, typically refers to a sales job in which the sales rep is consistently meeting in person with their target buyers. This can include extensive presentations, attendance at trade shows, as well as a few nights a week in a Holiday Inn.
With the exception of a few industries, outside sales jobs are usually a little more senior than inside sales roles, as the sales professional is, more likely than not, meeting prospects without being accompanied by a senior member within the company. To younger sales job seekers, outside sales jobs can seem prestigious, interesting and just as important fun. However, be careful what you wish for and take the following into consideration before you pursue either an inside sales job or an outside sales job, or better yet a hybrid of the two.
Some downsides of taking an outside sales role early on in your career:
– Any young sales rep just graduating college or a few years out of university should be immersed within a corporate culture that breeds learning, growth and teamwork. Due to the fact that most outside sales jobs are work from home positions, the young sales representative misses out on the corporate experience, and because of the remote location they are much less apt to be promoted within the company and, if so relocation is probably in the cards.
– When organisations downsize their sales staff, they first look to the outside sales reps. This is primarily for the single reason that they don’t have to lay somebody off while looking them in the face. It sounds harsh, but such is corporate.
– Regardless of one’s expense account, the outside sales employee always ends up incurring out-of-pocket costs due to different travel expenses that are non-work expenses. Related to this, entertainment while on the road travelling is fun, new and exciting at first, but gets old quick quickly.
-Until you are a senior executive of a Fortune 500 company, the travel arrangements that your company budgets for you are not exactly corporate jet nor luxury sedan with a driver. Most outside sales reps drive an economy company car (or put miles on their own car) and enjoy a few hours on a regional jet flight, sitting on top of someone whom they do not know nor do they want to.
Some upsides of taking an outside sales role early on in your career:
–Learning how to conduct in-person meetings is an important skill to obtain when the sales professional is young. However, because sales and business is done more and more over e-mail and web conference, this type of skill is not even as close to as useful as it was just 15 years ago.
–Some inside sales jobs are purely cold-calling and do not carry as much responsibility as outside sales jobs. Typically, inside sales jobs serve as lead generators for the outside sales representatives within the organisation. Therefore, many outside sales representatives have a dedicated team of cold-callers (dedicated to the entire outside sales force, not individually) to generate leads for these individuals to meet with. If the commission plan is still reasonable with this type of assistance, outside sales jobs can be quite lucrative.
–Outside sales positions teach the young job seeker responsibility and accountability for one’s actions as, for many younger professionals, working from home can bring on decreasing motivation and work ethic.
In the end, I do not recommend entry-level job seekers taking an outside sales position right after they graduate college. Being in an office, learning how to cold call and becoming familiarized with corporate environments is a lot more priceless than a used Ford Escort, an old Dell computer and flight delays to Minneapolis in February.
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