Outside Sales Isn't An Inside Job

The whole idea of outside sales is to bring in business that probably would not have come in any other way. Specifically, it is about building relationships. In building relationships, it is a requirement to become more familiar with each other and each others businesses. Frankly, that is the really fun part. Once a salesperson is at that level with a prospect, it is really easy for them. The harder part is making a decision to get out of the chair, then finding someone to talk to, and last to start building a relationship. It can all be fun, if you choose to see it that way.

Owners and senior managers: Help create more success with your outside sales team. One of the best ways to do this is to give the outside salesperson a reasonable budget for food. I would suggest starting with $500 and see how that works. Just cut that much out of your other advertising and you won't be spending any more than you are now. There is no better thing that your outside salesperson can do to build relationships than to get the prospect away from their business for a while and no better excuse than to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just go to get some coffee somewhere. Don't reimburse them, give them the money. If you don't trust them with it, you hired the wrong person. Replenish the fund as needed so they can continue uninterrupted. You can also issue a company credit card if you prefer. Treat all of this as part of your advertising budget because that's exactly what it is.

If both of you golf, that is a great way to get them away and even better because of the amount of time you get to spend with them. Perhaps there are other interests that will encourage a relationship. Perhaps, you both like hunting or fishing, going to certain concerts, auto racing events, tractor pulls, you name it. Maybe it is something that gets the prospects spouse involved. The more the relationship develops, the better. I know a number of companies that have golf country club memberships for this very reason, and, of course, that does make it a business expense.

Direct and guide your staff to do the best things to get more business: get out of the office and go talk with someone. Give them the tools they need to make that be effective. Pay attention to the results and make sure and get complete reports of contacts, developments, etc. Don't let it run on autopilot. You're the leader, so lead them by helping them to succeed with encouragement, support, positive motivation and follow up.

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