Working in sales can be a lucrative career path, but learning to succeed is often an uphill battle. For those who choose sales and decide to work from home, the process can be even more complex. These 13 tips will ensure a successful start to your outside sales career for independent contractors, business owners, off-site employees, and everyone in between.
Tip 1: Create a Dedicated Workspace
When your livelihood depends on making successful sales, your attention needs to be on making contacts, pitching your products, and following up. This means that when you’re not on the road, you’ll benefit from a dedicated place to work without any distractions of daily life.
Whether your home base can spare an extra bedroom or simply a corner of the living room, your work needs a place where you can stay committed and focused.
Tip 2: Choose the Right Cell Phone Plan
A sales career involves significant time spent on conversations with potential buyers, and as a remote worker without a business line, this means your cell phone is your lifeline to clients. Whether you're at home or on the road, you need a consistent and dependable phone. When considering a plan, be sure to do your homework on the best carrier for your neighborhood and throughout your sales radius.
Tip 3: Maximize Your Signal
Have a weak signal in your apartment? Poor cell reception isn't going to go over well with your clients and customers, so it's up to you to make sure your home or apartment gets good service. While it's best to take precautionary measures before you sign the lease, investing in a good router and making calls over WiFi can help ensure that your signal is consistent and you’re ready for business at all times.
Tip 4: Secure Your Network
Client names, addresses, passwords, and credit card and account numbers are considered sensitive information, so keeping client data safe should be a top priority. Instead of working via public Wi-Fi or an unsecured personal network, take time to implement encryption options to protect against breaches. After all, it's unlikely your clients will continue to trust you if you can't protect their personal info.
Tip 5: Learn Your Product
When you're working in sales from a traditional office, you'll often have trainers and managers to help you review product information, highlight desirable features, and learn best practices for making a sale. When you're working remotely, whether for an employer or for yourself, you'll likely have to handle your own training, or at least part of it. Before hitting the trail or picking up the phone, take the time to learn your products inside and out.
Tip 6: Minimize Distractions
A traditional workplace is often free of distractions like television, your personal computer, your fridge, and your family, but a home-based workplace is a little different. While using your home as your work base can help even out your work-life balance, it's also easy to find your personal life bleeding into your professional practices because your workspace now serves multiple purposes. Take as many measures as possible to keep distractions to a minimum.
Keep the room or space you use for work totally dedicated to work.
Tip 7: Consider Co-working Spaces
From studio apartments to a handful of roommates, there are plenty of living situations that aren't ideal for working from home. When there's no room in your home for an office, a co-working space can be a perfect solution for a sales base.
Offering an upscale,comfortable, and collaborative atmosphere customized for work, co-working spaces often feature millennial-friendly floor plans and can present an affordable alternative to maintaining an office at home.
Tip 8: Be Prepared to Travel
As a sales rep, travel is occasionally (or often) required. When you're not relying on an employer's resources to cover your bases, you'll need to utilize your own vehicle and funds to make the trip from Point A to Point B. If your sales position requires travel, it's important to optimize your travel routes with route planning software to make it to client meetings in a timely and cost-effective manner. You will also need to keep good records and comply with the law.
Tip 9: Set a Schedule
When you're working out of an office, the workday can have a finite start and end time. These times may be flexible, but sooner or later, you'll get to go home. When you come home from sales calls to the place where you both work and live, however, this divide becomes less defined, leading to more time invested in work than would occur under normal circumstances. By setting a schedule – and sticking to it – you can do your best to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Tip 10: Learn Tax Basics
Working from home can influence many elements of your professional life, and that includes taxes. Your tax situation changes drastically when you are self-employed, leading to things like quarterly estimated taxes and a wider range of deductions. Instead of missing out on savings, consider partnering with a CPA or taking time to read up on filing taxes when you’re working from home.
Tip 11: Store Inventory Appropriately
If you operate your own business from home and make sales visits independently, you will likely have substantial inventory on hand at any given time. This is important for a seamless sales process but also can pose problems if you live in a small condo or apartment. Instead of letting your living room pile up with boxes, consider renting a storage unit to keep products secure and well organized. This will also help ensure your inventory doesn't stress you out and remind you of work while once you’re off the clock.
Tip 12: Focus on Relationships
Sales is all about relationships. Your success depends on nurturing existing clients as well as acquiring new ones. If you work for a company that has a good customer relationship management system (CRM), be sure to explore all the features and take advantage of them. Intelligent software can help you keep tabs on current and potential customers, personalize communication, and customize each step of the customer journey. If you don’t have a system provided, check out affordable options for small businesses. But whatever you do, don’t rely on spreadsheets or handwritten planners. Failing to maintain connections can cost you significantly. Once you automate your processes, you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done before.
Who says success in sales requires working out of a traditional office? By following these 13 tips for working from home, you can get your remote sales career off to a strong start, no matter what you have to offer your customers.
Author Bio: Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of www.BusinessWomanGuide.org, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.