Sales consultant & coach who has been working remotely for 10+ years

1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?

Hello! I’m Brendan McAdams. I’m a long-time remote employee/ worker/ consultant/ coach/ bootstrapper based in Baltimore, Maryland. For more than 10 years I’ve been a self-employed sales consultant/ coach to health tech companies, and for the last two years, I’ve been a co-founder focused on getting ramped up, running and growing. 

2. What motivated you to choose remote working?

It was so long ago that it’s a little hard to remember, but now it’s the defacto standard for me and really not even an issue for any of my clients or former employers. 

Ultimately, I chose it because it was infinitely more practical for me. I was able to eliminate commuting into New York City, it allowed me to focus intently without interruption, and it accommodated my personal schedule. 

I like to start early, say 5-5:30, and take a break of an hour or two in the afternoon. I also found that I’m able to socialize and connect with people effectively enough through other mechanisms (e.g. conferences, meet-ups, sales calls…) that I can forego the need for the day-to-day chitchat. (I actually wrote about this in my first book

3. How did you find remote working roles?

Most of my consulting work has been by word-of-mouth and referrals from business friends. I’ve been fortunate to have a good network of relationships and I try to stay in touch, even just casually. You never know where a referral or an engagement may come from. 

But now I’m moving towards more sales coaching and consulting, specifically for start-up founders. This is something of a new direction for me, so I’m employing a more intentional marketing strategy to get awareness. I’ve got a book coming out in late October and several speaking engagements scheduled. And I’m getting more active on social media. (If you’re a start-up founder reading this, I regularly post sales tips on my Twitter account.) 

4. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?

There are so many advantages: Your time is much more your own, and the flexibility it affords you is a huge plus. And there are fewer interruptions. I don’t run into another salesperson that wants to chat about golf or their quota. Being remote gives me large blocks of time to focus without interruption, which I need to be productive. 

The one significant disadvantage being remote presents to me is that it takes real effort to stay connected and know what is going on. You’re not as informed on organizational dynamics, and that can prove disastrous to your career if a reorg is happening or senior mgmt have decided to change strategy. And as a solopreneur or freelance consultant, being connected with others is important, both from a business visibility and from a mental health perspective. 

5. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?

First, the whole internet thing is pretty critical. I was selling to AT&T Bell Labs and was using email when it was a basic Unix utility that used a text editor and you had to remember individual email addresses. 

This is Chet. I bounce ideas off of him. He always likes what I come up with.
This is Chet. I bounce ideas off of him. He always likes what I come up with.

But more seriously, I use Zoom and Skype a lot, and did before this whole pandemic. (I wrote about this, too – In Front of the Camera) And Microsoft Office and Google Docs. I use FreshSales CRM because it’s easy to use, has a robust API, and I really like the folks that work there. And I just started using ConvertKit for email marketing and some customer engagement, but ask me in a couple months about that. 

6. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.

Maybe not hilarious, but certainly absurd. I was hired as a freelance consultant to run sales for the healthcare vertical of a systems integration company, and during the negotiating process they explained that I was to be in the office essentially five days a week. 

I explained that I wasn’t going to do that, which simply perplexed this particular administrative person (and indirectly the CEO who was hiring me.) “Yes, you are,” she explained. “He’s quite adamant about that.” I calmly explained that it’s a three hour drive from my home to their office, and I’m not doing that every day…or even every week…and I made that clear throughout the early conversations, discovery process, and in my proposal. 

“Everyone works in the office,” she informed me, “and we have an office assigned to you.” “That may be, but I’m not. And you don’t need me to.” 

Eventually, they came around. And I ended up working for over two years on an initial 90-day engagement, generating several million in new revenue and several brand-named clients, designed and managed the development and launch of a new product, and handled their overall marketing program. All of it from several hundred miles away via conference call, GoToMeeting sessions, and too many shared documents to count. 

Sometimes you just have to drag your client into the modern age 😉 

7. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?

Develop a 90 day plan and execute ruthlessly on it. When you’re remote, you’re effectively invisible. Your presence has to be seen through your productivity, your accomplishments, your enthusiasm and your communication. And the first 90 days matter, because that’s when you’re the most vulnerable. No one really knows you, they’re making initial impressions, and you’re not part of the culture or the informal communications channels. 

So have a plan. Outline your tasks, the things you want to accomplish, the resources you may need, the people who can help you. And then share the draft with your management to get advice and feedback. Let them correct it and comment on it. And then, execute. 

8. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?

This is an interesting question. Who knows, really? But there’s definitely going to be less travel, and more conversation and interaction via video tools. And they’re definitely going to get much more robust and interesting. Expect a big boost for VR. And functionality that allows you to chitchat by the virtual water fountain. 

I think you’ll see much less importance placed on in-office activity, and I actually think that could boost creativity. Most really creative work happens alone, I think. Yes, you need others to weigh in, critique and collaborate, but people still code, paint, write and design alone. So the individual contribution will likely become greater, more frequent and more valuable. The challenge is in finding ways for creative individuals to collaborate, get feedback, and enhance each other’s contributions and creations. 

This new normal will certainly reward those that can manage the transition and be effective. At the same time, I worry that many won’t adapt well. And I don’t think we’ve figured out as a society how to deal with that future. 

9. What else should we know, and where can we follow you?

My bootstrapped start-up company is Expertscape. We identify and objectively rank medical expertise by specific topic using the NIH PubMed database. It’s free to use, and it’s particularly helpful if you’re dealing with a serious medical issue and you need to find someone that is really knowledgeable in your circumstances. I sincerely hope you never need it, but feel free to play around with it. 

And I’m writing another book. This one is specifically about sales fundamentals for start-up founders. I spend a lot of my time coaching founders on how to sell, and so this book is an offshoot of those experiences. But, I’m also looking to get questions, feedback, and stories from founders and VC/ angel investors to add to the book. So if this interests you, I’d love to connect. You can get regular updates, chapters, and other materials by signing up here – Sales fundamentals for founders. I’m going to come up with some perks (e.g. discounts, bonus material, free PDF, etc.) for those that sign-up early, help spread the word, share feedback or stories. 

And you can connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn (Connect with me on either, but I’m really focused on Twitter, which I think can be an excellent resource for remote workers.) And if you have a sales issue that you want to bounce by me, reach out and let’s chat. I love selling and love to help others get early sales traction. 

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