During the past few weeks I’ve fielded queries from several clients regarding our view on salesreps working from home.
More salesreps are telecommuting now than even a few years ago. But working from home isn’t for every salesrep or every company. It could mean the difference between your home-office reps making their numbers or not.
Intent on diagnosing a potential problem with one VP of sales, I asked, “Do you have evidence that he’s working 50 to 60 hours a week… for you?” The VP said he didn’t know whether the rep was working the hours, or full time for his company. He should have known the answers to both parts of that question and the answers should have been two yeses.
When hiring, there is no question in my mind that you don’t want to be the one who gives a salesrep his or her first opportunity to work from a home office. It’s way too risky. I’ve seen dozens of failures due to this simple mistake. You have to be certain that the rep has successfully sold from a home office environment in the past. No matter how much it appeals to them, some people just can’t be productive in a home office environment.
Here are some recommendations:
- Don’t hire a rep for a home-0ffice situation who can’t prove they’ve been successful at it in the past.
- Some salesreps need the support and camaraderie associated with an office environment. Others aren’t capable of working from home due to lack of discipline or motivation. Still others don’t have the knowledge, experience or skills to get the job done. Make sure you know all the strengths and weaknesses of your own reps and anyone you are looking at hiring.
- Certain selling jobs require a fair amount of time in the office. If that’s the case, no one should be based at home. A day a week, fine, but no more than that.
- Don’t let a good rep strong-arm you into allowing them to transition to a home-based office unless you’re certain they’ll get the selling job done.
- Make sure you’ve got the right sales performance measurement system in place. You need to be able to spot trends in individual performance before they impact your forecast. For that you’ll need to have the right leading indicators in place.
- If you’re going to have reps working from home, provide them with the equipment they need, including hardware, the appropriate sales enablement software, and a high-quality headset.
Finally, the risks associated with home-based sales reps are mitigated when you have a pragmatic sales methodology that’s in place and used across your entire sales team. If you don’t have one, that’s what you need to do, starting today.
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