Working From Home requires new skills and new aptitudes. Employers want to see that you can be effective, manage your time, and have an impact from your desk at home. We surveyed hundreds of jobs across Indeed.com, Linkedin, CareerBuilder, and Glassdoor to better understand the specific skills you need to have in order to get hired and excel as a ‘home office sales rep’, ‘customer success’, or ‘quota carrying sales professional’.
We thought it would be helpful to break the skills down by skills you are expected to have (to get hired) and skills you are expected to learn on the job (growth within the role). The majority of the Work From Home sales jobs want staff to build rapport by listening to, discussing, and negotiating with clients. Moreover, many jobs want staff to seek opportunities to collaborate and learn from other perspectives. What we want to do in this article is share skills you need, skills you can learn, and explain how the cultivation of these skills will help accelerate your career and add value. Ultimately the ability to add profitable value is what will help you get promoted and lead to enhanced job security.
The nature of work is changing. In 2019, 29% of employees had the option to work from home. In 2020 that number exceeded 40%. In short, more people will work from home in the future, either full time or a few days a week. This transition will lead to the formulation of new behaviors and skills. You need to know what these skills are to best start training for the shift that is coming.
After looking at hundreds of roles and their requirements, we have summarized the key findings for you.
Critical Skills are those skills that you must have in order to complete a task or fulfill a role. For many Work From Home sales jobs these critical skills include the following:
- A Passion for Helping Other People Everyday
- Commitment to Excellence
- High Personal Integrity and Character
- Work Ethic, Self-Motivation, and a Desire to Succeed
- Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills
- Accountable and Coachable Team Player
How can you demonstrate these skills during an interview? I have been working from home for a decade and have interviewed for roles that enable me to work from home so I have ample first hand experience in this domain. Firstly, you will want to use specific examples of how you have demonstrated these behaviors in the past as a guide for how you will act going forward. I often tell a story during interviews of how I have gone above and beyond to help a client. This extra effort led to the generation of goodwill which led to future, larger orders. I also cite an example of how I learned from my manager how to increase sales velocity by asking the right qualification questions at the beginning of a sales call. This shows my coachability – a skill that is critical. Secondly, I try to use every interaction with my future employer to show them how I can communicate thoughtfully, clearly, and rapidly. I prepare for calls (or interviews) by stating what I want to achieve in each. I re-read emails for typos and punctuation. These behaviors percolate into my mindset and show an attention to detail and excellent communication skills. Even though I have never obtained mentorship or coaching in these domains I decided to take the lead and work on these for broader self-improvement.
All of the roles we surveyed wanted people who were flexible thinkers and demonstrated an aptitude for learning. You should be prepared to learn the following:
- Product Knowledge – know what you are selling and how this product/service is used.
- Strategic Prospecting Skills – who wants to buy the product, what is their title/role
- Rapport Building on the Call – how can you communicate with the buyer or other relevant decision makers
- Buyer-Seller Agreement – what can you bring to the table and what does the buyer care about
- Active Listening – when Working From Home and not meeting people in person you specifically need to understand how to listen to your prospect or client
- Time Management – can you schedule your time and take enough meetings to drive deals forward?
Ask yourself: how do I demonstrate a growth mindset? What are the behaviors, tendencies, or skills I can grow into? What life experiences give me a unique perspective or edge when dealing with clients or prospects, or other relevant stakeholders in my business?
Let me share a personal story about how I showed a growth mindset and what that meant for my future employer. The company that I joined made and sold software to mid-market businesses. In order to do my job well, I had to call a prospect list and set up time for sales reps (more senior members of my team) to meet with potential clients. At first I called from the top of the list and worked my way down. But it soon became apparent that I could optimize the list in small but meaningful ways. For example, I started to sort the list by geography and tried to reach people shortly after lunch. This often led them to be relaxed and in decent spirits. I found the exact opposite trend when I reached people between 11am and noon. They were usually a bit rushed. In hindsight, it is clear why! They wanted to get off the phone, wrap up urgent work, and head to lunch.
By making this observation I was able to change my call schedule, my outbound prospecting motion, and my sales performance rates. I took this observation and shared it with my manager who shared this practice with my broader team. Not only did this help us all perform better, but it led to improved business performance and outcomes. I didn’t know that I was going to make an impactful contribution when I started my job. But by listening to real feedback in the market (tone of voice, outcomes, etc) I was able to foster insights which led to operational improvements. We, as a team, changed the order of our call sheets going forward. And, to nobody’s surprise internally, revenue went up. I cite this story because it is a small example of how a growth mindset can lead to new, flexible, and dynamic improvements.
When working from your home office you will have ample opportunities to innovate. You will have less oversight and, more than ever, you will need to be your own boss. This means that you can take calculated risks and see trends that others have yet to discover. When you share these trends, you can add value and be rewarded. When looking holistically at the skills most companies want in their future workers, the list includes attitudes, behaviors, and skills that you can and should master. Not only will this help you perform your core role well (which you should aspire to) but can lead you to unlock new value for your team and employer. If that isn’t a growth mindset, I don’t know what is.
I share this story because it is not unique to my own experience. It is just one example and there are others. As you think about how adding value from home in a sales role ask yourself what your story is and why others value it. That is the first step to building out skills that your current or future employer will value and for which you will be recognized and compensated.