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Inside or Outside Sales

Inside or Outside Sales... What is your best fit?

Which is more important: Your independence or your interdependence? Do you cherish your water-cooler time with your peers, or would you rather meet new people every day?

These are just a couple of the factors you should consider when choosing between inside and outside sales. Before you can make a decision, you'll want to get a handle on the typical daily routines of both positions.

Outside Sales

A job in outside sales generally suits self-starters. If you work better independently than with a set schedule and team, this may be the field for you. Also be aware that as an outside salesperson:

You Manage Your Own Schedule: You're responsible for making and keeping your appointments. You're also responsible for reminding your client to meet with you. One delayed or canceled appointment can offset your entire day, as you must often travel to meet with your customer.
Your Workplace Changes Daily: Regardless of the weather, traffic delays or car troubles, you must be resourceful, motivated and dedicated enough to travel to your appointments. You should also be able to adapt to new environments and people easily.

Your Appearance Counts: Some days you may not be in the mood to greet new faces. But for those working in outside sales, you must always look -- and be -- ready to schmooze no matter how you feel.

You Are Your Own Daily Supervisor: No matter who your boss is, you need to look after yourself to ensure you stay focused. Outside-sales jobs may be more prone to distractions than inside-sales jobs, because you don't have anyone looking over your shoulder.

Inside Sales

If you prefer working a set amount of hours per day in an office, you may be better suited for inside sales. Just remember that as an inside salesperson:

You Need to Be On-Call: You should be able to respond to customer requests, concerns and complaints when they come in. You don't necessarily get to manage your own schedule, and you need to be ready whenever your clients need you while you are at work.

Your Product Is Your Word: You should also be able to obtain new business on cold calls, without having a physical prototype of the product you're selling, where applicable, or a visual to further explain the product. You need to be articulate on the phone and be able to give the customer a good enough description of the product to gain his business.

You Work in an Office: Your workplace is a definitive place you visit daily; you don't have to travel to meet with clients. Working in an office may entail office politics and collaborations with peers.

The Tools of Both Trades

Whether you choose inside sales or in outside sales, the following tips will help you get your clients' business:

  • Know how to "wow" your customer with a great first impression.
  • Know your product well.
  • Keep learning by attending conferences and studying your trade.
  • Be an ethical salesperson, and work to keep your customers loyal.
  • Hone your listening skills.
  • Keep a log of common customer questions and concerns, and develop solutions for these so you may respond to your customers on cue.
  • Learn how to manage your time effectively.
  • Learn from your peers and take advantage of networking opportunities.