January 1, 2011

Making the Leap & Returning to My Calling

I just walked from a great job as head of sales where I was well-liked and appreciated. It feels kinda like I opened the door and jumped from a perfectly fine airplane. It seems crazy. When I share the news, many say things like “that takes a lot of courage,” while others offer congratulations. I smile, say thanks, and ask them to hold the congrats for a few months or until there’s something significant to celebrate.

Why did I do it? Lots of reasons, but the biggest is that over the past six months I concluded that sales coaching is my professional calling. It’s what people tell me I’m best at, it comes naturally, it energizes me like nothing else I’ve done in my career. After splitting the last decade between coaching/consulting and serving as a chief sales executive, I can honestly say I had more fun and was more effective at creating significant sales lift as an outside coach than an inside manager.

Why now? I invested the past year connecting with other sales leaders on twitter and six months ago I launched this blog. It’s been an eye-opening experience and I’m grateful for many new relationships and the value I’ve received from re-engaging with the “sales profession community.” I’ve learned a ton and also realized that the combination of my history as a top-performing sales hunter, five years experience in outside coaching and another five leading sales teams from the inside uniquely positions me to bring value and perspective as a consultant.

The time is right. It reminds me a lot of 2002 when I did this the first time. It’s been a rough few years. Companies have cut all they can. Now it’s time to invest in growing the top-line. Many sales managers, sales teams and individuals who succeeded in better times are not delivering the results. Markets have changed dramatically. Strategies are in flux. Salespeople have been confused by new theories espousing that prospecting and cold calling are dead. Guys who used to make a good living as relational, reactive order-takers have been exposed for what they are – account managers – many of whom couldn’t describe or execute a clear new business development attack plan if they had to. Companies and sales leaders need help, outside perspective and ideas.

NewSales are the lifeblood of a business, and frankly, many businesses are in dire need of a transfusion! That’s why I decided to make the leap now.

In future posts I’ll stir it up with more of why I think I’m more effective as outside coach than an inside manager. For now, I’m excited to announce my return to full-time coaching and consulting. As our dear friend Kramer from Seinfeld said: “I’m out there Jerry, and I’m loving every minute of it!”

Happy New Year and Great Selling in 2011,

Mike