Read as Mike Weinberg talks about his career as a Sales Coach. Find him at www.newsalescoach.com and on his Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I coach salespeople, sales teams, and sales leaders and consult senior executives on issues related to sales success. I’m also a new author and my first book was just released by the publisher.
How would you describe what you do?
I help sales teams become more effective at acquiring new customers. My specialty is new business development.
What does your work entail?
I lead sales team meetings or workshops, coach individuals and small groups and occasionally work in the field alongside salespeople to better learn their business and coach in in the field. CEOs like to meet with me 1:1 to hear my assessment of their sales organization and to plan future work with their teams. Sometimes what I do looks like training; other times it looks like personal coaching; frequently I end up having hard conversations with senior executives about issues in their business impeding sales success.
What’s a typical work week like?
A typical week might involve a two-day trip to work with a client. One of those days could be in the field alongside one or more reps and the other probably involves me leading part of a sales team meeting and sharing content on a specific sales topic. There’s also a good chance I’ll be 1:1 with the CEO and/or the senior sales executive sharing my observations and making suggestions.
How did you get started?
This is my second stint in full-time coaching/consulting. The first time, a friend recruited me to join him in launching a firm. This time, I walked out of a Senior Vice President of Sales job because I was tired of not being able to make a difference. I’ve learned that CEOs will listen to outsiders and consultants much better than employees. When you don’t work there, your opinion matters. I got started by blogging, building an online platform, networking, calling old clients and friends and securing a few deals. From there, it took off.
What do you like about what you do?
I like the freedom of not being an employee, not having to worry about speaking the truth. I like working with a variety of companies and doing only what I am best at doing. Everyone can see that I am operating in my areas of giftedness, and frankly, it is easy for me. I love seeing the light go on for salespeople when they grasp a new concept about selling and put it to use.
What do you dislike?
I work like a dog and consulting is a tough business model. You are the salesperson, the production manager, the accountant and the content creator. It’s a lot.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I either charge by the project for an engagement that has a defined time frame or I work on a retained basis and bill a monthly fee.
How much money do Sales Coaches make?
Sales coaches and consultants incomes vary greatly. Some starve and some earn hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m 45 years old and have 20 successful years in sales and a brand that is becoming recognized so I can command a pretty high fee. If you’re newer to the business or don’t have a track record, it might be hard to charge what I do. Some lower-end coaches charge in the neighborhood of $150 per hour. I don’t do hourly or daily fees, but if you did the math, what I charge is a lot more than that. There is plenty of demand for coaches because so many people in sales struggle – particularly in the areas I focus (prospecting for new customers). But I would say you need to have had some level of success in sales to be a coach or consultant.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
When I started out, I made about what a decent performing experienced salesperson makes.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
Honestly, education is irrelevant in sales. Sure it helps, and business acumen is essential. But no one asks about my education or degrees or cares that I graduated Magna cum Laude from a good school. To be a consultant or coach, you must be able to get a handle on a new business relatively quickly. I think the fact that I’ve had a lot of jobs (I change about every 3 to 4 years on average) has really helped me as a consultant. I have seen a lot of different business and environments which is an advantage. In terms of skills, you must be able to communicate clearly and to tell the truth without backing down. If you can’t get your point across or are too intimidated to share issues you discover, then you won’t be effective.
What is most challenging about what you do?
It is challenging to get salespeople to believe I can understand their “unique” situation and help them. Many wrongly believe that they have very specific issues that no one from the outside can understand. In 99% of the cases, that isn’t true.
What is most rewarding?
It is rewarding seeing people who were struggling or clueless about pursuing new business putting the pieces together and confidently attacking the market to pickup new customers. It is fun to see people you’ve coached succeed, especially when you know that you are the reason they are now succeeding.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Make sure you love sales. Get your own coach or consultant that can help you with your business model and ask you hard questions about your business. This is going to sound weird, but before you decide to become a coach or consultant, make darn sure that you can sell your service. I have several friends who are “wanna be” consultants that are really smart and talented people. But they have no clients because they don’t know how or won’t sell! Being smart isn’t enough. You still have to get clients or you will starve.
How much time off do you get/take?
I make my own schedule. Between my client load and the book launch, I am not taking enough time off. But I generally take 4 weeks of real vacation a year.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I would like to do a little more speaking and a little less heavy-lifting coaching. I’m excited to see what my book will bring. Realistically, I think it is possible to double my income, but the trick will be to do that while taking more time off.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
There is plenty of demand for what I do. I don’t worry about competition. There are a whole lot of companies that need sales help. If you meet the requirements and characteristics I describe above, jump in.