Thinking of Hiring Sales Agents to Work From Home? Read This First.


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Today, the growth of the freelance workforce is outpacing that of full-time employees. The gig economy is a multibillion dollar marketplace with roughly 68 million people in the US alone freelancing.

Increasingly, companies are looking to hire self-employed sales reps. These freelancers enable companies to staff up quickly during busy seasons or for a particularly important sales campaign. Employers can structure the gigs for a set duration and avoid many costs associated with full-time employees.

Given the current labor shortages, hiring self-employed reps and freelancers may seem a good way to augment staff with seasoned sales reps. However, it’s best to understand the risks and what it takes to mitigate them. Once you do, you may be interested in considering different options, including working with a professional tele-services company.

Potential Risks From Freelance Sales Agents Working at Home

There are, however, issues to consider:

  • Management: While many self-employed sales agents are highly skilled in sales, they still need management. They lack product/service-specific knowledge. They’ll also need training in any specialized technology needed for the job. And you can’t “set `em and forget `em” either. You’ll need to assign a full-time employee to oversee, communicate and manage your freelancers.
  • Insurance: Ideally, the self-employed should have health, life and disability insurance, but what employers need to be most concerned about is that they have business insurance, and specifically professional liability insurance. But while you should not have to cover any financial loss from any serious error, theft or security breach on the job, many freelancers do not have comprehensive business coverage.
  • Equipment Compatibility: While a lot of technology resides in the cloud, freelancers working remotely still need broadband, hardware and software capable of accessing and compatible with your sales tools. If they’re working off-site, you can’t place them in a cubicle and give them access to tools such as CRM, account-based sales management software, video conferencing equipment, sales enablement and content sharing.
  • Security: In using freelance sales agents, are you opening your company to potential lawsuits, security risks, privacy breaches and possibly even sabotage?

First, freelancers are often not automatically subject to the same background checks as your full-time employees—even if they work through an online service. It’s up to you to conduct checks on employment, credit and criminal history.

Second, and probably even more important, is data security. How do you know if your freelancers have updated security settings and equipment? Can they easily be hacked or ghosted? Do they have updated effective virus, malware and spyware detection on their computers? If not, the whole company can get exposed.

Freelancers are highly unlikely to be ISO 27001 certified. This certification ensures regulatory compliance, business continuity in the event of an attack and protection of your reputation. It goes a long way toward ensuring that your company’s and your customers’ data remain safe.

The Steps to Mitigate Your Security Risks with Freelancers

Protecting your company’s and customers’ data and intellectual property needs to be at the forefront of any decisions you make when hiring self-employed sales agents. You not only risk losing vital company information, but may also lose customers, experience serious downtime and face legal and regulatory repercussions.

Here are a few ways to harden your security with freelancers:

  • Structure any contracts with sales agents to clarify what information belongs exclusively to your company and cannot be used for any other reason.
  • If they are working with data from the European Union (EU) and/or European Economic Area (EEA) countries, then you better have a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) in place that meets General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.
  • Evaluate your overall security solutions and protocols. Make sure software and firmware are up to date. Use an encrypted VPN if possible.
  • Make sure that they have updated anti-virus and anti-malware software installed.
  • Ensure their laptops are encrypted in case they are stolen.
  • Review your security policies and expand/update as needed. Make sure every department has a policy and knows what to do in case of a problem.
  • Assign a full-time employee as the immediate liaison between your company and freelancers working remotely. Your employee is responsible for maintaining oversight, including regular communication, managing workflow and monitoring results.
  • Restrict access to data. You need to let sales agents see information about customers and prospects. However, you can control their permission levels. Limit them read-only or read and update authority; do not give them full editing or administrative permission.
  • Institute an aggressive password management policy. You can use a password generator to create strong passwords, require two-step authentication, monitor login activity and activate email alerts for unusual activity.
  • Include freelance sales agents in security meetings designed for employees. In most cases, data breaches are accidental. By including sales agents in employee meetings, you’ll make them aware of the importance of security.

An Alternative Approach

If taking all the above steps sounds like too much of a hassle, you might prefer to work with an established, professional tele-services/inside sales company. Not only is the agency more likely to have the insurance required, but also, they put in place the right security measures and are responsible for providing the exact service you need without the hassle. Try to find a company that is ISO 27001 certified. This certifies that they meet all the security requirements needed to protect your data.

If you care about your data and want to protect the privacy of your customers, think twice about who you hire. Freelancers have their place, but when your company, customers and intellectual property are at risk, you will likely feel more comfortable with established professionals who demonstrate that they take your security as seriously as you do.

Sabrina Ferraioli
After relocating to Europe, Sabrina became Account Director at TECHMAR, where she drove EMEA business development strategies for clients such as HP, Oracle, and Olivetti. Today, as VP of Global Sales for 3D2B, she builds and manages the multi-national sales organization, developing and implementing new business strategies to acquire and retain customers and grow the company's revenue.


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