Having always loved the Fall because of back to school (first for me, the avid learner, then later getting kids ready for back-to-school) at some point I tied into it that "back to business" feeling everyone has post-Labor Day. It is almost frenetic, and for many of us in sales effectiveness work, we've never been busier.
Opportunities abound if you have been downsized but have a sales background - at least in terms of the opportunity to work as an independent contractor to do any of the following:
make prospecting calls - cold or warm on behalf of clients (that's how I started my business)
help companies put "drip marketing" processes in place
assist in follow up of warm prospects that a downsized sales force can't get to
How would you go about this? First start with companies and executives who know you. Start your own drip marketing campaign - three postcards or letters then a phone call. They will more than likely be impressed. You are demonstrating in advance of your contracting work with them - in essence - interviewing in real time, the value that you bring through follow-up. Most salespeople do not do follow up as well as they should. You'll immediately stand out.
Now that people are actually volunteering to work for startups while out of work, why not set a reasonable hourly figure, or work on a project basis, and get paid for it? Yes, you need to set up a business license, and you need to understand how to do it, but it is not rocket science.