At OFR Metals our outside sales team is a huge part of our company. While our customers work closely with our inside sales representatives, the outside sales team is who they see on a monthly, weekly, or sometimes daily basis. They are essentially the face of OFR Metals.
So, what does a typical day for an OFR Metals outside sales rep look like? Well, I went on a ride along with an outside sales rep., as well as interviewed a few others, to find out.
My Ride Along with an Outside Sales Rep
I spent a day with John (JJ) Chojnowski, an outside sales rep for our Ogden, UT branch, to meet some customers and find out what exactly our outside sales reps do all day.
The day began with JJ reviewing our proposed schedule. The schedule included a good mix of key customers and potential accounts. He explained to me a little bit about what each company does and what our objective of visiting them was. Then we set off for our adventure… well, my adventure. It was just a typical day for JJ.
Something I learned along the ride with JJ is that customers aren’t just customers. They are friends and family. At just about every stop we made he took the time to talk to the buyers about their families, projects they are working on outside of work, and their hobbies. He also made plans with several to get together outside of work.
He goes mountain biking with one customer on a regular basis; with another he takes boating trips.
I asked JJ if this was a common theme between outside sales reps and their customers. He said that many of our customers establish friendships with our outside and inside sales reps. It’s not just his selling technique, but an actual value that is shared throughout our company.
After a busy morning we met another customer for lunch. I half expected it to be another sales call just with food, but we hardly talked business. JJ had the customer tell me a little bit about what the company does and how business has been, but the remainder of lunch was spent growing the customer/sales rep relationship.
It was interesting to see how strong some of those relationships are.
OK, so when I say “down time” I mean for me. We did spend a good portion of the day sitting in parking lots of random gas stations. After each stop JJ compiled his notes and would call the corresponding inside sales rep to discuss what happened at each customer visit. Because, while the outside sales representative is who the customer sees regularly, the relationship they have with the inside sales rep is just as important. I was impressed that he took the time to keep the inside sales rep in the loop almost in real time.
I don’t personally drink coffee, but it provides fuel for an outside sales rep. And JJ in particular happens to be a huge coffee consumer. We had regular coffee stops to ensure he had the energy (although anyone who knows JJ knows he doesn’t necessarily need it) to make it through the day.
Ending the Day
The day ended with JJ reviewing all that took place during our “adventure.” He double, sometimes triple, checked he had all his notes submitted correctly, touched base with the inside sales team once more, and finished the last of his umpteenth cup of coffee.
Talking with Other Outside Sales Reps
Because I wanted to see how similar/different our outside sales reps are throughout the company, I talked to a few more reps to see what their favorite part of the job is and what the most challenging part of the job is.
Brooke Murray, outside sales rep for the Texas Region
“My favorite part of being in outside sales is meeting new people every day and learning and seeing how products are made using the material we sell. The most challenging part is trying to break into a new account when the buyer is even-keeled with their current supplier.”
Evan Skinner, outside sales rep for the Midwest Region
“The best part of the job is the relationships you make with customers. Many times you even become friends. The most challenging part is getting a foot in the door at an account that is happy with their current supplier. It takes patience as well as the ability to take rejection. Many people are not able to handle rejection.”
John Ripp, outside sales rep for the Northeast Region
“My favorite part of being in outside sales is the interaction I have with different customers and different types of people every day. No day is the same as the last, which I really enjoy. I enjoy every surprise and experience this job presents to me. The most challenging part of this job is to not get down on yourself or be too disappointed. When you’re in a position like I am in and have to build a territory, you will have a lot of doors shut in your face and a lot of rejections. This was tough in the beginning, but as I grew in my position I learned that I just had to treat each day like it’s a brand new opportunity.”
What I learned
After a full day of meeting customers and observing the transactions, I learned that customer/sales rep relationships are extremely important. This makes total sense seeing as how OFR Metals was built on the principle that we are not just about steel.
I also learned that it is a team effort. The outside sales team couldn’t do it without the help of the inside sales team, the warehouse employees, truck drivers, and the rest of the support staff… even if they sometimes think they can.
Another thing I learned was that outside sales reps don’t get near as many steps in a day as I assumed. I wore my step tracker and ended up with only a few hundred more steps than I normally do while working a regular day in my office.
But in all seriousness, it was a great adventure. We have some great customers and our sales reps work hard every day to ensure our customers are happy.
Learn more about OFR Metals here.