Field sales, also known as outside sales, involves selling products or services outside a conventional office environment. Field sales representatives typically visit potential customers directly, often at their businesses or homes, for face-to-face interaction, fostering a personalized approach to sales and customer engagement.
The specifics of a field sales force don’t presuppose special working hours or an office setting. Instead, field sales representatives are often on the go, meeting with potential clients and maintaining relationships with existing customers.
A field sales representative should always adjust their schedule up to the client’s needs. They should also be ready to sell in places their customers find convenient, e.g., at their office, in the coffee house, or any other area. As an option, field selling also takes place at conferences or industry events.
Field sales representative responsibilities
As all sales representatives, a field sales rep should build trust with their prospects, provide help, and ensure their strategy results in future sales. Nevertheless, there are specific responsibilities assigned to these salespeople:
- Conducting face-to-face meetings with customers in the field to offer their company’s product or service.
- Nurturing relationships with current clients by initiating regular meetings with them, usually on their territory.
- Educating potential and existing customers about their product by providing demos or tutorials.
- Updating contract terms with current or previous clients.
- Keeping records of all sales leads and customer accounts.
- Attending conferences or trade shows as a chance to build connections and present the company’s product or service to potential clients.
- Monitoring the company’s competitors, new products, and market trends to understand a customer’s specific needs.
- Collaborating with the marketing department to help in brand development.
Field sales vs. inside sales
One should draw a line between field sales and inside sales. The difference between them lies within the following factors:
While field selling presupposes working outside the office, inside sales representatives work in the office environment within a sales team under more direct supervision.
Number of professionals
For companies that combine both sales forms, the number of inside sales reps often surpasses that of field sales representatives. For every field sales professional hired, 10 inside salespeople are brought on board.
Sales reps working inside spend about 35.2% of their time on selling-related functions compared to field sales representatives who spend 38.3% of their time selling.
Inside sales reps use plenty of communication methods, the primary being cold calling. Meanwhile, field sales representatives mostly rely on meetings, though they make calls and conduct video conferences at times.
Maintenance cost and earnings
Field sales reps should be compensated for their traveling, sometimes housing, and food expenses. This is why maintaining an outside sales workforce can cost 6 times more than an inside sales team. At the same time, field sales tend to outearn inside sales by 12% to 18%.
As a rule, field sales strategy is chosen by companies that deal with more complex and expensive goods or services and aim at reaching high-level decision-makers. In contrast, inside sales function better for selling products or services that presuppose the number of interactions over the depth of those interactions.
In today’s market, more and more companies are inclined to combine inside and field sales, resorting to outside selling when necessary rather than using it as the only way of doing business. Needless to say that such a hybrid model may have much sense when a company wants to reduce costs.
Tips for building your field sales strategy
To perform a field sales role successfully, the company should concentrate on finding and growing a sales team, which would develop strong time management and customer service skills. Use these tips to ensure your field sales strategy has the right direction:
Set correct field sales team objectives
An effective sales team combines the group of professionals that meet the company’s goals. To get the right one, you should:
- Understand how many sales representatives you’ll require to cover the areas within your targeted field.
- Ensure you have enough managers to coach your salespeople.
- Come up with the right balance of field sales reps and managers, which will depend on your organization’s objectives and needs.
Fine-tune your recruiting process
Identify your ideal candidate’s profile by determining what skills, knowledge, and career goals they should possess to ensure successful field sales campaigns. Be ready to repeat the recruiting process in case the need for future position reopenings occurs.
Check your team management capacity
To make your field sales team work, ensure there is the right person at the wheel. Due to differences between field and inside sales, your inside sales manager may not be the right individual to control the sales process. It will be reasonable to find a person whose leadership skills and experience in outside sales will help your team achieve your sales objectives.
Create a clear sales compensation plan
Your salespeople should feel motivated and rewarded for their work. Come up with the sales compensation plan that would reflect your company’s needs and your field sales representatives’ expectations. Welcome your team’s engagement into incentive plan design ― this will be a sure step towards clarity of your sales processes.
Align your sales and marketing teams
About 75% of marketing leads never convert into a sale. One of the reasons is a failure to align the sales and marketing departments, which leads to wasted budget and resources. On the contrary, when sales and marketing teams cooperate well, your company optimizes its marketing and sales cycles as a whole and has all chances to increase its year-over-year revenue by up to 32%. Invest time in ensuring that both teams pursue the same goals.
Invest in your field sales growth
Don’t skimp on field sales tools and resources. On the one hand, outside selling requires more money allocations. On the other hand, you will invest in your brand’s image, which your customers will interact with each time they meet your salespeople. Invest in modernizing your sales technologies, and your efforts will be more likely to pay off.
Analyze field sales performance
If you are planning to constantly achieve your sales goals, you should be ready to analyze your field sales results on a regular basis. By looking at sales rep performance metrics, you will be able to make data-backed decisions and improve your sales effectiveness.
Field sales, unlike inside sales, won’t allow you to reach many customers. Still, this model makes a go-to option for getting to the targeted people with your complex products or services that you’ll want to sell at a higher price. By building up a smart field sales team, supporting your sales reps with professional management, and equipping them with modern tools, you may bring your field sales strategy to the top level and enjoy close rate growth.