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Outside Sales Associate Career Guide

Many businesses exist within the framework of selling products. In many cases, customers obtain these products through ad or marketing campaigns or repeat visits and loyalty. In order to obtain new customers that may be outside of a company’s reach, different methods might be employed.

Outside sales associates are experts that follow potential leads on clients, set up and perform product demonstrations, identify new sales opportunities, and more. They gain insight into industry trends by attending conferences and shows and create tailored marketing strategies and sales reports.

In order to become a successful sales associate, you’ll want to have strong salesmanship and business acumen. It helps to have demonstrable abilities at meeting sales objectives, great interpersonal and relationship-building skills, and familiarity with consumer psychology and marketing strategies.

Sample job description

At [Your Company Name], we’re thrilled to be looking for a new addition to our employee family. We are searching high and low for an extremely driven and motivated outside sales associate. All initial and continuing training will be provided as we make sure you have all of the tools possible to be successful. A positive attitude is paramount as outside sales can be tough and exhausting, but is extremely rewarding as well. At [Your Company Name] an outside sales associate will be tasked with maintaining proper sales paperwork, nurturing current relationships, and implementing sales strategies to close new deals. You will be largely independent with your time, leads, and daily sales activity. Some warm leads are provided, but the ideal candidate will always strive to find new potential clients. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Manage sales paperwork and CRM entries
  • Create new leads
  • Close current leads
  • Nurture current customer relationships
  • Obtain upsells with existing customers
  • Continue sales training and education
  • Collaborate with other sales reps to improve sales strategies
  • Assist in customer service issues with current customers to maintain a healthy relationship
  • Track closing percentages
  • Send email and/or text campaigns in an effort to obtain more leads
  • Report to sales manager for any other tasks needed

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent (G.E.D)
  • A year or more of sales-related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Outside sales experience
  • Business-to-business sales experience preferred
  • Entry-level computer experience for CRM management
  • Self-motivation
  • Time management skills
  • Self-starter attitude
  • Great communication skills
  • Client relationship management
  • Experienced at finding new clients 
  • Able to manage multiple accounts
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Great track record of consistent sales numbers
  • Understanding of the market and competitors

Preferred qualifications

  • 3-5 years of outside sales experience 
  • Bilingual

Typical work environment

Do you enjoy getting to the heart of a topic? Are you an expert troubleshooter and instructor? A position as a Technical Writer might be the detail-oriented role that’s right for you. Technical Writers use their expertise to convey complex ideas and Outside sales associates need a high level of ambition and must be self driven because they spend the majority of their time outside of their offices in meetings with clients. They are more often traveling to potential customers’ homes or businesses in effort to sell their products or services.

Typical hours

Most outside sales associates have schedules that are constantly changing. For optimal success, you must be able to meet at times that work best for potential clients. Some are available during business hours, but some require off-hours meetings and/or weekend meetings, meaning that these employees need to be flexible.

Available certifications

Though a certification may not be required, receiving any of these certifications can help you improve your sales and stand out from the rest of the candidates:

  • Certified Sales Professional (CSP). This certification helps you with a better understanding of sales. It also leaves you with familiarity with business management and time management. To be eligible, you must have a college degree and 35 hours of pre-approved coursework. Renewal of this certification is required every three years. 
  • Certified Sales Executive (CSE). With this certification you will be able to explain the sales management process and know the ins and outs of sales. There are no prerequisites to this certification, but you will need to pass the exam with a 75% passing rate or higher and pay the fee. 
  • Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP). This shows employers you have the skills sets needed to succeed in sales, especially if you want to be in a leadership position one day. You will need to pass the exam at the end of the course. 
  • The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization. This certification improves the skills needed to close deals faster. This will also teach you how to keep new clients, and how to find them as well. 

Career path

In order to become an outside sales associate, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and most places will require you to to have a year or more of experience. The more experience you have, the higher the chance you have to get hired. Many associates go on to get degrees in order to get ahead of other candidates as this field is competitive. 

Sales certifications are a plus in this field as they prove to employers you are educated and skilled. As an outside sales associate, you should be knowledgeable in sales, be professional, outgoing, driven, and have exceptional communication skills. Students who wish to go into sales should get jobs in retail where they can start as a sales rep.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 41-4000

2020 Employment1,625,700
Projected Employment in 20301,703,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift77,600

Becoming an outside sales associate is a great career option. Although it has its challenges, it is very rewarding, and it’s growing each year. Every successful business has to have successful salespeople. Therefore, the demand for sales associates will always be there. 

This position can often lead to inside sales positions and executive sales positions. Experience in sales can also provide you with the skill sets in order to succeed in management as you learn to influence people and gain more knowledge.