Work at Home in Sales
Independent, hard-working self-starters shine in a sales careers. And likewise, those are the same types of folks who are most successful at working at home. So it’s no surprise that people are frequently looking for information about how to work at home in sales. This profile lays out some of the possible career choices in sales for those who wish to work at home and provides links to more resources on how to get started.
Work-at-Home Industry Outlook
Because sales cuts across nearly every industry and sector, the outlook for sales as a career in general is usually pretty decent. However, because people usually work in specific industries, the outlook will vary for individuals based on the industry they work in. In recent years, the possibility of working at home in a sales career has becoming increasingly likely as new technologies have impacted the marketplace.
The increase in the number of home call centers, due to call center technology that allows companies to easily send calls to remote agents, has allowed those with customer service skills to parlay that experience into telemarketing from home. Likewise, the general connectivity that the Internet provides has made direct selling (which predates the common use of the Internet) much more accessible to more people, as individuals can easily take online sales via their own websites now. And teleconferencing and other technologies allow corporate sales people to connect virtually with clients, giving rise to the field of inside sales.
Types of Work-at-Home Sales Opportunities
Probably when we think about sales jobs from home the first thing that comes to mind is direct selling or home parties. Many work-at-home moms supplement their income by selling products, such as Avon or Arbonne, this way. However if you have a talent for sales and a desire to do more than supplement your income, don’t limit yourself to this one kind of sales. Consider phone sales jobs or more traditional corporate sales jobs that allow you to work from home. And, of course, there’s real estate sales, another career often done largely from a home office.
- Direct Sales - The first thing to understand about direct selling is that it is not a job but a home business. And then know that although direct sales includes home party sales, there’s a lot more to it than just calling up some friends to get together to try some new products.
For those you who considering starting a direct sales business, be sure you understand the direct selling terminology that may appear on it.
- Home Call Center Sales Jobs - Telemarketing is the more common name for call center sales jobs. Home-based call centers are a growing phenomenon, as companies look to cut infrastructure costs while maintaining a well-educated workforce.
- Inside Sales - Inside sales is basically sales that are made remotely, and so this is obviously a possibility for those who want to work at home in sales. In many positions it won't matter if you're working from your home office or a corporate office. And while this might include telemarketing or cold-calling lead generation, inside sales encompasses more than just call center jobs. As teleconferencing technology has becoming more sophisticated and more cheaply available, remote contact can be nearly as effective as in-person meeting, allowing for product demonstration and relationships built on virtual face-to-face interaction.
- Outside Sales - Outside sides is typically face-to-face sales. And while inside sales jobs are often thought of as the work-at-home positions, there are WAH outside sales positions. However, in these types of sales your home is often only your base of operations, and you may have to travel frequently--either locally or overnight. So this may or may not be the kind of sales job a work-at-home mom.
For more about these two types of sales professions, see Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales.
And this is not the kind of job you can break into (especially as a WAH job) without either sales experience or experience in the particular industry or more likely both. This article by About.com’s Guide to Sales The Many Faces of Sales gives a nice round-up of these types of careers.
- Real Estate - As the About.com Guide to Real Estate points out in this article on how to become a real estate agent, getting your license is probably the easiest part of establishing a real estate career. And typically you'll need to gain experience and establish a network before you can branch out on your own, but many agents do eventually work from their home offices.
Finding a Work-at-Home Job in Sales
While I have a list of work-at-home sales jobs, for the most part, this is not the kind of job you’ll find on a list, unless you’re interested in telemarketing or phone sales. Your experience will dictate in what industry you’re most likely to find a job. Starting on the local level, checking job listings in newspapers and job boards will yield leads to positions that may allow you to work at home. Follow the job boards in your industry and periodically check these websites that offer daily job leads for WAH jobs.
What to Look Out For
Understand the compensation structure. Sales jobs rarely have as straightforward and simple compensation structure as non-sales jobs. And though the ability to make more money as you sell more is what attracts people to sales, you must completely understand how a company structures its comp in order to be successful. Don’t accept vague discussions of bonuses and commissions. And be sure you know the different types of commissions.
Know the product. And when it comes to direct selling, love the product. You will be a more effective salesperson if you believe in the benefits of your products, and since direct sales is so much about building personal relationships with your clients, this is even more important. But even in B2B sales,
Recognize scams. This is important in searching for any work-at-home job. However, in sales where the best-paid salesperson can be positioned in marketing materials to look like the typical seller, it's particularly important to know how to recognize scams. Additionally known scams, such as pyramid schemes, often attract folks with sales talent because, on the surface, they look like sales opportunities. Read more about work-at-home scams.