Smiling business man and woman reading sales data on tablet.
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In the digital world, the value of face-to-face communication is more valuable than ever.

This might sound like an oxymoron, but research shows that in-person meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. This phenomenon could explain why outside sales reps clock in a 40% prospects-to-clients conversion rate on average.

Sales teams have become more sophisticated in recent years as technology advances, moving away from blind cold calling to targeted outreach.

Data plays an integral role in the success of modern outside sales forces, where reps need to maximize their time on the road to make every account visit valuable.

Here we’ll break down the three types of data that winning outside sales teams utilize to achieve peak performance in the field.

We’ll also discuss three strategies for using these data types in practice.

The Three Types of Data

There are three distinct types of data that outside salespeople have at their disposal to help them do their jobs most effectively. These are:

  • Activity data (which measures how sales reps spend their day, represented in metrics such as account visit frequency, length of visit, and total territory coverage)
  • Observational data (qualitative and quantitative information around what’s happening at each account, including client notes, competitor activity, and photos)
  • Sales data (revenue generated over a given time period measured in units, contracts, dollars, etc.)

Let’s see how these data types are applied by an outside sales organization in real-life scenarios.

#1 – Sell Into New Accounts

Reps who are empowered with data are in a much better position to close new accounts than those who are not.

For companies that sell a physical product, sales data becomes a powerful tool for negotiations with new potential accounts. For example, using sales data to prove your company’s successful track record at competitor accounts makes partnering with you much more attractive to a new account if they can see how you will add value.

Activity data also comes into play when pitching to new accounts.

The following data points can be used to demonstrate the completeness of a rep’s territory coverage:

  • Frequency of visits to a given account
  • Length of time spent at each account
  • Number of followup meetings booked

In this way, activity data serves as a proof point for a rep’s commitment to making each account they’re responsible for successful.

Similarly, observational data around client satisfaction at other accounts helps to make the case for why a new account should sign on with your company.

#2 – Prioritize Accounts

In order for outside sales teams work most effectively, reps need some sort of prioritization process that helps them determine how to best spend their time on the road. Again, data becomes important for driving decision making.

Data around sales volume and total sales is a great starting point when deciding which accounts to visit when.

Sales data also lets you know which accounts might be at risk. For example, steady sales followed by a sharp decline would indicate problems with account health.

Observational data pertaining to competitor activity might also influence how reps choose to prioritize accounts. Reps can also compare activity data with sales data to see the impact their past visits have had on revenue, making it easier to know which accounts are worth checking up on in person.

#3 – Improve Performance at Existing Accounts

Numbers don’t lie. Data affords the advantage of enabling outside sales teams to engage in fact-based selling. Showcasing past successes in this way builds trust with accounts and makes upselling that much easier.

Sales data becomes a valuable tool when:

  • Bargaining for an account to purchase additional units
  • Approve discounted pricing
  • Introduce cross-merchandising
  • Run a promotional event

If reps can confirm how these activities positively impact the bottom line for an account, they have a better shot at winning them over.

As with selling into new accounts, activity data is useful for upselling an existing one. Metrics that show the rep’s dedication to achieving desired outcomes (such as visit frequency or time spent on-site) are selling points for why the account should further invest.

Reps can also monitor observational data closely to be aware of when potential upsell opportunities arise. A photo of an open space on the shelf or a note that an account is seeking out a certain type of product is good intel for reps to have.


Companies that invest in outside sales teams owe it to their reps to provide them with resources that help them be successful. Teams that know how to leverage data in the field are at an advantage over those who view it merely as a means for monthly or quarterly planning.