Last year, Brad Rice booked $225,000 worth of Salesforce consulting work. That’s impressive on its own, but what’s crazier is he only worked an average of 18 hours a week.
Brad took his existing skills and experience with a popular software product, and pivoted to become a remote freelance consultant.
This is the “SWAS” strategy: Software with a Service.
If you’re not familiar with Salesforce, it’s the #1 CRM (customer relationship management) software in the world.
Businesses and non-profits of all sizes use the software to organize and manage the back-end of their sales efforts.
And on the other side, there’s a community of salesforce professionals who support those customers … and earn up to $230 an hour to do so.
Why are the rates so high? Supply and demand — there’s a gap between the popularity of Salesforce and the number of experts like Brad who can help with it.
That’s the opportunity I think you should know about.
To learn more and see if Salesforce consulting is the right career upgrade for you, check out Brad’s Free 5-Day Salesforce Challenge.
Tune in to hear:
- why there’s such a high demand for Salesforce professionals
- how you can get started today earning your Salesforce certifications
- the progression steps Brad took to go from $40,000 a year to $225,000 part-time
What is Salesforce?
Salesforce is the world’s most popular CRM, or customer relationship management platform.
There are more than 150,000 customers using Salesforce software, which range in size from small mom and pop companies to huge global brands like Coca-Cola and Amazon.
In fact, Brad said 85% of all Fortune 100 companies use Salesforce.
It’s also particularly popular with non-profits, because it’s free for non-profits for up to 10 users.
“Pretty much everyone uses Salesforce, and no one knows about it,” Brad told me. He used their stock price as an approximation for the popularity of the software:
As you can see, the company and its client-base continues to grow.
Meanwhile, the “supply” of Salesforce professionals to serve those customers simply hasn’t kept pace.
How Did You Get Started Learning Salesforce?
“I grew up on a small cattle farm, and knew very little about technology,” Brad told me, talking about his upbringing.
His parents did want him to go to college though, and Brad graduated with a Bachelor of Economics.
After graduation, he applied “for pretty much anything and everything,” and landed an interview for a Junior Salesforce Administrator role at a local electronic health records company.
“I had no idea what Salesforce was, and I had no idea what a Junior Administrator was,” Brad explained. “I just knew they paid a salary and that I met the qualifications, and I was going to do my best.”
From 40+ Hours a Week to 18 Hours a Week in Salesforce Consulting
Here’s how Brad described his career progression:
- Year 1: $40,000 salary learning the ins and outs of Salesforce.
- Year 2: Switched jobs to become a Senior Salesforce Administrator, with a salary bump to $65,000 a year.
- Year 3: Landed a job with a consulting company, still as a Senior Salesforce Administrator, but now with a salary of $90,000 a year plus bonuses.
Not long after that move, Brad took another step up. He moved to another consulting firm for another pay bump up to $110,000 plus bonuses.
The silver lining with this role was that he no longer had to travel and go to client offices in person.
With a daughter on the way, Brad really wanted to swap the 40-50 hour weeks for a part-time role with more freedom. He took his skills and built up a freelance client base.
“Long story short, I quit a job making $110,000 plus bonuses. Last year (2020) I averaged about 18 hours a week working and did $225,000 in specifically Salesforce consulting work,” Brad told me.
Typical Salesforce Administrator Career Progression
Brad’s career progressed quickly, but he said this is actually pretty normal for Salesforce professionals.
Everyone will take their own path, but the biggest hurdle is understanding the Salesforce ecosystem.
If you want to progress as Brad did, you need to find roles that match up with the experience you have and take steps forward.
When you do that, the trajectory below isn’t unheard of:
- Starting out – $60,000-80,000 a year
- 3 years experience – $100,000-120,000 a year + bonuses
- 5 years experience – $130,000-150,000 a year + bonuses
He described 3 years as really “the hump” new professionals need to get over to have more earning power and flexibility. At that point, you can go freelance and build up your own Salesforce client base.
For Brad, it was more of a lifestyle decision than anything else. He wanted to spend more time with his family and was willing to take a pay cut to do that if he had to.
Plus, if his freelance aspirations didn’t work out, he reasoned he could always go back to a full-time 6-figure salaried position.
Skills Required to Become a Salesforce Consultant
Brad has personally worked with people from all backgrounds and professions make a career change and start working as Salesforce consultants.
You don’t have to be tech-savvy or have a college degree. Those things are going to help, but Brad said that if you really want to make this career change, anyone can do it.
The biggest skills he said you’ll need are the “soft” skills, like:
- Knowing your “why”
- Being determined
- Knowing your focus
- Being willing to accept guidance
Brad said it’s also important that you’re a problem-solver, self-driven, and process-oriented person.
If you have — or are willing to learn — these in-demand skills, you can absolutely learn how to use Salesforce and land high-paying jobs.
Day-to-Day Work As a Salesforce Pro
First of all, Brad wants to clear up one of the biggest misconceptions about being a Salesforce Pro — it’s not a sales role.
It’s a back-end technical role.
A big part of Salesforce is setting up automated processes and streamlining workflows.
For example, when a business gets a new lead, they may make a note manually or add the customer details into an online form to get back to that person later.
Using Salesforce, you can set up some pre-qualifying questions for every customer. When the customer fills out that form, Salesforce will add them to your pipeline as either a qualified lead or somewhere else in your system based on their answers.
You can then set up qualified leads to go straight to the sales team. The sales team can then work on closing that deal, and Salesforce will continue to automatically carry that customer record through the pipeline notifying the necessary people.
In a nutshell, Brad said your role is to, “listen to people’s needs as a company, and to take those needs and make Salesforce do it all automatically.”
If you’re going to apply for jobs, it helps to have some Salesforce certifications. Salesforce provides its own online training and progression platform called Trailhead.com, with more than 30 certifications you can work through.
Brad said the best place to start is with the Salesforce Administrator Certification. This is the baseline certification that shows clients you’ve been accredited by Salesforce.
It’s evidence that you can be trusted not to “destroy everything” if allowed into their system, as Brad put it.
If you’re willing to put in about 10 hours a week to study, you could have this certification within a couple of months.
How to Connect with Potential Salesforce Consulting Clients
Brad said that one of the most in-demand sectors is non-profits. He always recommends to people he’s coaching that they reach out to a non-profit organization using Salesforce and offer to help them.
The important thing is to get your foot in the door and offer to help them for a set number of hours for free. This will give you — and them — the opportunity to see how you can help them better use the software.
After you’ve completed the number of hours you offered and delivered value, you can then pitch them for ongoing work.
The going rate for Salesforce consulting is in the $170-230/hr range. As they’re a non-profit, you can offer to work with them for $75-100/hr. This is a much lower rate than they’re going to get anywhere else.
($100/hr for 20 hours a week comes out at around $100,000 a year.)
Online Job Listings
He also said that looking through job postings online is a great way to find more clients.
Brad starts by looking at job boards, LinkedIn, and other places where companies advertise for Salesforce roles for openings that interest him.
He said that you won’t find many part-time or freelance openings, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pitch the company.
If you know you can do the role in a part-time or freelance capacity, Brad said you should reach out and try to convince them why you’re the perfect fit for the role.
If you can give them a compelling enough argument, there is a good chance they’ll want to hear more. This has worked for him a number of times over the years.
Take the free 5-Day Salesforce Challenge to see if this career upgrade makes sense for you.
How I Doubled My Salary During the Pandemic
In this video, you’ll hear from one of Bradley’s students, Anita Smith, who started with the free challenge. She shares how she got laid off from her hospitality job and decided it was time to learn a new skill.
Brad’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Take a bet on yourself.”
Links and Resources from this Episode
- Free 5-Day Salesforce Challenge
- Brad’s LinkedIn Profile
- Salesforce For Everyone – Brad’s YouTube Channel
- Skillshare – Get a free trial of Skillshare Premium Membership, with unlimited access to 30,000+ on-demand classes!
- Tailor Brands — Get 40% off the all-in-one platform to build your online brand the smart way w/ code SIDEHUSTLE.
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