A friend of mine recently reached out on LinkedIn and told me that after a long career working inside a single company as a business development manager, their position was being eliminated. With more than 25 years of experience in coaching salespeople, one of the options they were considering was launching their own consultancy as a sales coach and trainer. I shared my ideas with them on the first steps I would recommend taking in that direction, and I thought I’d repost them here as sort of mini brainstorm and action plan for anyone else interested in starting up as a sales coach.
The ideas below assume you have the insight and experience to offer clients on this topic. It also assumes that you’re starting from scratch in marketing and positioning yourself as a sales coach, like in the case of my friend who gained all their experience working inside a private company and never having the need to promote their services to the general public.
Advice for getting started as a sales coach
First, choose a specific business category/industry to focus on — one that you can serve better than any other. In the case of my friend, their specialty was working in the manufacturing industry. My suggestion is to find manufacturers (or whatever your own category is) who are currently trying to expand their sales team by hiring new team members and then reach out to them with questions about their plans for on-boarding new salespeople with a focus on ongoing talent development and coaching to help assure the success of the new sellers (as well as their established sales team).
Asking the companies what their existing process is helps you to position your offerings as supplemental add-on services that can benefit the sales efforts of the entire organization.
Second, start posting one article per week (it doesn’t have to be a long article — just 500 words or so) that shares your sales development and coaching philosophy. Think about how you would pitch your services and programs to a potential new employer from a benefits angle and start with an article about that.
Think about what you would do on day one at a new coaching gig and write an article about that.
Then write a second article about what you’d cover during the first week with a new sales hire. Then write one about the topics you’d coach on in the first month… then the first quarter, the first six months, and so one.
Make each one of those topics an article and publish them on Linkedin (and anywhere else that makes sense), tagging the posts for the industry you’ve chosen to focus on and the sales training themes covered in the content.
Third, record a series of videos about your sales philosophy and the principles you teach. Publish them on YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media where appropriate.
Don’t overthink it (or overproduce it).
You can easily record these on your camera phone. Start by following a super simple process: ask yourself a question, answer it on video, stop the recording. Done! Create a separate new video for the next question, and so on.
If you have some basic video editing skills or an app that makes it easy, you can (optionally) add a text screen with your question on it and insert it into the video prior to your on-screen answer. Don’t want to bother with the editing? Just start the video by saying something like “one of the biggest problems manufacturers face in growing their business is developing their salespeople is…” and then give the problem scenario and your advice on how to solve it. You can also reference the most common challenges sales teams encounter or the most frequent issues that new salespeople have to deal with in a new job.
The main point is to help the people reading your articles or watching your videos picture you in the role of working with them and helping to solve their sales coaching problems. You’re providing a virtual test drive of your sales training skills and advice by demonstrating exactly what you’d do to help them if you were serving as their sales consultant.
A final note on getting started as a sales coach
You’ll notice that nothing in my suggested first steps says anything about designing a logo, printing business cards, or building a website. Sure, you might need those things down the road, but first you need paying clients and nobody ever hired the best sales coach by choosing the one with the prettiest business stationery.
Businesses want to hire the sales coach with the best ideas and programs for making their sales team better and increasing their company profits — and the only way they’re going to know you have the best ideas is if you get them out there to be seen by the people who can hire you to implement them.