What is an Outside Sales Representative?

This is what you should expect in an Outside Sales Representative role. 

Building on my last post about Inside Sales Reps, today I am going to discuss the Outside Sales Rep. 

This blog series will define specific jobs and roles that are common in today’s tech companies.

I—essentially by mistake—started my software sales career as an outside sales rep. Although there may be less outside salespeople when compared to other roles, outside sales reps are extremely important to business. If you are a tech company selling big dollar deals (likely $100,000+), outside sales reps are still integral to your business. Think of the outside sales rep as the superheroes bringing in the multi-million dollar deals with the support of the other sales roles. Companies such as Salesforce.com, Bluecat Networks and CDW use outside sales reps.

Outside Sales Representative Defined

Short Definition

People typically get into this role as a promotion from an inside sales rep or as a second to third sales job. Anywhere from 4-7 years of experience. The main takeaway is that this role is not for someone inexperienced. This role is all about schmoozing, making personal relationship and closing big dollar deals. Compensation is a mix of base + commission or sometimes only commission. Usually the rep will have expenses such as cars, travel and client entertainment covered.

Long Definition

Outside sales rep means someone who is working outside the walls of the company office and actually meeting potential customers in real life. It sounds counterintuitive, as most salespeople (think retail, car sales, etc.) are all actually outside. In technology, however, outside sales reps are typically the elite salespeople that foster relationships with decision makers, meet them in person, schmooze with them and close big dollar value deals. Simply put, outside salespeople need to close big deals because the expense of travel, client entertainment, etc., needs to be justified.

Outside salespeople are typically supported by a combination of business development reps and inside sales reps. Outside sales reps, like the other sales roles, need to diligently record their interactions with potential customers and manage their pipeline. An outside sales person will usually take over a deal from an inside sales rep once it reaches a certain threshold in dollar value.

For example, if a lead came into Salesforce.com from a company with 1000 salespeople (therefore, 1000 Salesforce.com licenses) this would be passed along to an outside sales rep because the dollar value would most likely be over $1M in ACV (annual contract value).

Becoming an outside sales rep in technology isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s also not the path that all salespeople take. For example, some might find they are more successful closing deals over the phone vs. in person. Generally speaking, you need at least 5+ years experience to be considered to be in an outside role. Many tech companies shy away from outside sales reps because of the huge costs associated with them vs. an inside team.

Compensation is typically a base + commission.

Note: Talented outside salespeople that fit well with their company can make a lot of money. [Tweet This!]

Sometimes, successful outside salespeople will actually make the most money at a company (even more than C-level executives)!

Outside Sales Representative Salary

Compensation is typically a base + commission.  The commission is usually a straight percentage of the size of the deal (or in the software-as-a-service, the annual contract value).


Glassdoor reports US Outside Sales Rep salaries to average around $42k, but remember this number is likely very skewed because many perks are not generally thought of as “salary.” Like I said earlier, successful outside salespeople that are a good fit with their company make a lot of money.

Hiring Inside Sales Representatives From An Employer’s Standpoint

Very established, high value ASP (average selling price) tech companies need outside sales reps to close a deal. Your company should have a very defined sales team, marketing team and a product that is mature. Outside salespeople are brought in to bring a tech company to the next level of success.

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Somen Mondal

CEO at Ideal
Somen is the Co-Founder & CEO of Ideal. Prior to Ideal, Somen served as Co-Founder & CEO of Field ID until it was successfully acquired by Master Lock LLC (a subsidiary of NYSE:FBHS) in December 2012. Somen’s leadership has helped earn Field ID a spot on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists. In 2012, Somen was named winner of the Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the “Emerging Entrepreneur” category.


  • EzadHoza

    This article is perhaps ;85% true of a outside salesman who wants to fail.