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Chris’ Top 5 Sales Insights

indexMost know that technology sales revenue jobs can be beastly simply because of the speed of innovation and disruptive potential in the marketplace. What was hot last year can be obsolete this year and the competitive landscape can be brutal and unforgiving. The most successful sales pros I enjoy sharing with get good at mastering the “unlearning-learning-relearning” cycle, consult with one another, and embrace change as a friend.

In order to help other serious technology sale pros outside of my direct sphere of influence, I’ve shared some insights and tips in conversations, meetings, blog posts, and speaking events along the way that some have later come back and contacted me to say: “Chris, this was really helpful!” Here are the Top 5 insights I’ve shared that have garnered the most feedback.

10 Tips To Transition Into Technology Saleshttp://chrisbell3rd.com/10-tips-to-transition-into-technology-sales/

The Pinocchio Tax – Selling After a Lying Experience http://chrisbell3rd.com/pinocchio-tax-selling-lying-experience/

Selling With A Home Field Advantagehttp://chrisbell3rd.com/pinocchio-tax-selling-lying-experience/

The Obsolete Technology Sales Culturehttp://chrisbell3rd.com/the-obsolete-technology-sales-culture/

Don’t Jump, It’s Temporary – A Sales Recovery Scenario – http://chrisbell3rd.com/dont-jump-its-temporary-a-sales-recovery-scenario/

Win!!!!

~Chris Bell 3rd

Go Back to Win Now

IMG_2442Somewhere, a sales professional or senior executive woke up this morning in a cold sweat after having a nightmare. They woke up in a cold sweat believing that their best and largest deal was just lost to a competitor and for a few brief moments they panicked… until they got a grip on reality. It really was just a nightmare (or was it an unconscious warning?)

If  you’re driving deals for your organization, it may be time to review the quality of your previous engagement execution, and upcoming joint working plans for one primary reason: Q4 is well known to be “spoiler season.” We’ve all watched as the deal that “is absolutely closing next week” was snatched by a competitor or indefinitely deferred (which is just as bad as losing the deal straight out.) Result: A jacked-up sales forecast leading to terminations with the survivors… working in fear.

As a sales leader, one of the best insurance policies I’ve written for a strong sales forecast, begins with ignoring  my traditional linear “Qualified Prospect-to-Contract” pipeline nomenclature for a time, in order to circle back and periodically re-validate existing presumptions, re-initiate senior executive interactions, re-confirm articulated needs, double-check competitive positioning, review the ROI, and make sure my sense-of-urgency and the prospects compelling business events or issues are still congruent for a prompt and timely buying decision.

Businesses are dynamic and alert competitors understand what was relevant yesterday may not be a show-stopper today and look forward to killing your deal. Just to be clear, in today’s busy corporate environment it’s unreasonable to expect your executive sponsor to call and tell you what’s going on inside their organization. Things change. To go forward it may be smart to…

Go back, to win now!

~Chris

A Winners Edge – Competitive Intelligence

photo(17) - CopyWinning is a Habit. Unfortunately, So Is Losing. – Vince Lombardi

Kudos and a big shout-out to the sales athletes who show up to compete in the sales arena. You put it all on the line and are driven to minimize the influence others may have in deciding where you can afford to live, what kinds of schools your kids can afford to attend, what kind of car you can afford drive, when and where you can vacation, and how much you can invest and save. Want a raise?  Simple – go out and close another deal. Sure, quota is important to achieving your company’s sales revenue objectives but you don’t need a sales manager or a quota hanging over your head once you accept that winning and losing in the sales profession should be motivated by the vision of YOUR lifestyle goals and legacy.

Most of us already understand: That too often, the difference between winning and losing is so small… that just a little additional insight can make a champion. Since I’m always on the hunt for tools, solutions, methodologies that support my lifestyle and legacy goals, I recently came upon  “Insight” from Ignite Intelligence Solutions at www.winloss.com.  This is a new company in the competitive intelligence space that’s developed software which leverages input from members on the sales team which is then used to dynamically illuminate winning and losing competitive scenarios and nuances… before you go out and break a sweat. Question: how much more effective would you be, and how many more deals would you close if you were able to discern the winners and losers with a higher degree of confidence before committing significant time and resources? Hmmm…

I was so impressed that I’ve joined the Ignite Intelligence Solutions team and soon, I’ll  be engaging sales executives, marketing executives, trainers, and sales operations people in various verticals to help their sales reps achieve and exceed record-breaking quota success.

Care to know more? Do you have bigger sales revenues targets for 2015? We should connect. Feel free to contact me to schedule a discussion at cbell@winloss.com and in the meantime…

Win,

CB3

Winning and Losing to Win… Again.

IMG_0002We’re not strangers to these stories: The world-class athlete who experiences an epic defeat in the arena who is seldom heard or seen again; the business mogul who has experienced extraordinary success and is blindsided by competitive forces who has to shut down his business to retire almost broke; the company’s top sales performer with an enviable lifestyle, ideal family, luxury home and big boy toys… suddenly laid off and watching his life being transformed into an episode of Jerry Springer; or the highly respected, battle-tested military officer who was entrusted with life & death daily decisions over hundreds of men or women, who is now unable to find credible employment in the civilian world.

What’s really brutal is this: struggling and paying the price to win, overcoming adversity, tasting success, and then losing it all or becoming broke after being recognized as one the best. This painful sequence of events breaks the hearts of winners and while winning is a habit (an addiction of sorts)… so is losing. It also explains why many are tempted to comprise their moral values just to get an edge on the competition.

The habits of a winner are unlike that of the common man or woman and when a habitual winner is taken out of their game or profession… it can get ugly for everyone within their sphere of influence because they aren’t able to express their authentic best selves. Winners and high performers are like lions – instinctual hunters who when at their best are free, resent being kept, caged, domesticated, or dependent on others to be fed.

So what do you do when you’ve already experienced success, but maybe you’ve been out of the game for a while and you feel stuck? Because winners never really quit, they purpose themselves to find a new game in which to play and compete so that their instincts to win (though repressed) can be authentically expressed.

So, if you or someone you know has ever stood on a podium to receive a medal, worn a championship ring, had a trophy or plaque presented to them, coached or taught others how to win, or if you’ve ever been publicly recognized for exceptional performance and achievement, we should talk. My name is Christopher Bell, III and I’m here to tell you… It ain’t over. You CAN win… again – CONTACT ME

Win,

~Chris Bell

Do You Understand Your Position?

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The good news: You can’t lose what you never had. The bad news: The “job” was never yours in the first place.

Sometimes it’s hard to debunk long-standing institutional myths (even when the facts assault our senses) but you’ve always known that you don’t own the job right?  The job belongs to the company. Don’t believe me? Get fired or move on and “Your” so-called job will be posted on LinkedIn by next week as the words “it’s nothing personal, it’s just business” echo in your mind. (Hmm… your mortgage payment and kids education isn’t personal?) Jobs are positions that people move in, up, and out of all the time. Yes or no?

So now, you’re connecting the dots, coming out of denial, and it’s sinking in: you’ve been renting your youth; outsourcing your creativity, energy, and education; and traded time with your loved ones for a bi-weekly bank deposit, a pay stub, and the illusion of security so that someone else can live their dreams. The cold truth is, things are EXACTLY the way they should be. Those who show courage and take calculated risks that succeed, should be rewarded. Those that play scared and are committed to a pyramid (go check the company org chart) have little chance of owning the company they work for and when they can’t work… eventually they don’t get paid.

IMG_3262.JPGSince you’re probably a smart, educated, disciplined, team-player with character and personal drive, you understand the price being paid to have no leverage, no equity, and no ownership interests in that which you give your best effort and most  of your time. Still, having a job is a VERY good and necessary transitional position because you get to learn as you earn, build powerful professional networks on the company’s dime, establish expertise, and develop a practice of discipline and habit of winning in business. Even if the job is temporary in nature… it’s a great first step to taking control of your career.

The question is this: if you’re working a job today, what’s your exit strategy? Have you built and tested your “Plan B” before it’s needed?  Do you have a great idea, product, or service in mind that excites you and gives you leverage? Have you thought about launching your own business and do you look into other ways of earning money?

Contact me: Maybe… just maybe, I can help.

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Chris Bell 3rd: Coaching for Big Results

2013-03-29 21.57.05“My name is Joey Price and I’m the CEO of Jumpstart:HR, LLC. My company provides full-service HR support to small, emerging businesses in the United States and international firms looking to establish or grow their presence in the US.  My company helps business owners grow their firms with confidence while alleviating the sting of the inevitable burden of HR headaches.

Working with Chris Bell 3rd helped me in a lot of ways. As a leader, he helped me grow courage in weak-spot areas that existed in my mental focus. As a sales person he helped me strengthen my sales process. As a friend, we were able to connect on life issues – which helped me trust his business acumen all the more.”

My name is Chris Bell 3rd  and I love to see people win in life. As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, I had the privilege of being a business coach and mentor for Joey Price, the CEO of Jumpstart: HR, LLC who was recently recognized in the Baltimore Business Journal Top 40, Under 40 and featured in the University of Maryland University College commercial spot (you just watched) which aired just before a Baltimore Ravens NFL preseason game a few weeks ago.

If you’ve ever thought about starting a business; if you’re new to business and want to increase sales and profitability; if you own a business and want to get “unstuck…” contact me to begin transforming your business AND your life.

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

The Sales Janitor

30_janitor“The Sales Janitor” an excerpt from the BUT I HATE SALES©  Training & Speaker Series for Non-Sales Professionals

If you’re not in sales or new to the profession, it can be a bit overwhelming when you see great sales and business development professionals in action. Most often, they’re engaged with multiple buying influencers (evaluators, executive decision makers, technical influencers, coaches, etc…) in multiple deals at a time. In addition, most qualified prospects and sales professionals are just finishing or just beginning a deal and mentally, have to be in the beginning, middle, and end of several sales cycles… at the same time. Unfortunately, the negative residue and mess left after recently completed business deals or bad buying experiences can hang around in the minds and business units of  qualified prospects. Result: the atmosphere in key interactions can stink and result in degrading the likelihood that a win-win business deal can be consummated. What’s needed? A Sales Janitor.

The Sales Janitor

A Sales Janitor is a cleanup professional and fixer of OTHER PEOPLE’S MESSES. Sometimes you’ve got to clean up a mess you didn’t create before being able to do your best work. The Sales Janitor is acutely aware of what I call “The Pinocchio Tax” ©: a subjective penalty paid by both a prospect and sales person due to a previously bad buying experience where lies or a misrepresentation of the truth have resulted in a potential or actual loss. However, the Sales Janitor knows that if he can do something for the prospect not necessarily associated with the sale of his company’s products or services, the rewards may be: easier access to buying influencers and decision-makers; achieving consultant vs. peddler status; and the establishment of competitive immunity at the beginning of the deal vs. brutal negotiations at the end of a deal. So what does a Sales Janitor actually do?

Sales Janitor Responsibilities

1. Includes Prospect/Buyer History in your qualification and discovery process. Ask 3 questions: “Can you tell me about your experience purchasing these kinds of solutions in the past?; Is there any previous issue, incident, business unit, or individual we’ll be working with that is, or has been impacting your business?” And you can ask your coach/sponsor “Who has a vested interested in seeing that this project or deal does not succeed?”

2. Networks Relentlessly. You don’t have to have the answers, but you may know who does. Take authentic interest in people. In our profession, we interact with lots of people and may know experts in other companies in various field that we can introduce to prospective buyers across the breadth of their business that can do the fixing for us!

3. Prepares Joint Working Plans that include the prospects buying process and procedures. This will accelerate the speed of trust, and introduce predictably in the sales process after the cleaning up job. Result: Sales Janitors can ask for what they want and have the moral leverage to get it.

4. Lets It Go.  One major difference between a sales pro and a rookie or non-sales professional is the length of time it takes to emotionally let go of the memories of a good deal gone bad. We’ve all asked the question: “So now, how do I explain this to my boss?” I highly recommend the truth. S**t happens. Deal with it, and move on. But most importantly, don’t leverage your previous negative experiences in future opportunities. Start with a fresh attitude with no baggage and watch your bank account increase.

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

The Pinocchio Tax – Selling After A Lying Experience

index

Pinocchio (pi-noh-kee-oh) – The hero of Carlo Collodi’s children’s story, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883), a wooden puppet who comes to life as a boy and whose nose grows longer whenever he tells a lie. – Dictionary.com

A Pinocchio Tax is a subjective penalty paid by both a prospect and sales person due to a previously bad buying experience where lies or a misrepresentation of the truth have resulted in a potential or actual loss.

The prospective buyer’s Pinocchio Tax payment is often manifested in the enablement of a new, but flawed and elongated buying process. In some companies, an abdication of leadership is the result as key buying decisions become delegated to committees who are given influence without authority. This new, dysfunctional buying posture ensures that the best offerings, products, services, and personnel available withdraw from competitive consideration. Dysfunctional sales organizations love these buyers as they have no intention of actually supporting them for the long-term. Given limited time and resources, only desperate sales professionals and bad business managers can give meaningful time and energy interacting with these entities.

The sales professional’s Pinocchio Tax payment is evidenced in forecasted deals evaporating from pipeline reviews. The new, old rules: “It’s ok to lie to the sales person, because they lie to us.” A series of these incidences may result in a sales rep being put on a performance plan and lead to their eventual termination. At a higher level, great companies with awesome, innovative products may be forced to close their doors.

Now that we’re consciously aware of the Pinocchio Tax™ the obvious question is “So what do we do about it?”The short answer is this: Where a large, transformational enterprise opportunity exists, assume the prospect has put multiple people and processes in place to “protect” their company. Put down your briefcase and pick up a virtual bucket and a mop to become The Janitor. Inquire about the “who, what, why, and when” of the customer’s buying process to understand the prospect’s sensitivities and business proclivities. Then offer creative and thoughtful options that may clean up some of the emotional residue and issues left behind in previous bad buying experiences BEFORE going on a full-court sales press.

Becoming The Janitor often doesn’t make sense for short-term, small, transactional deals. But if you’re in the game to do big deals and build long-term collaborative mutually profitable business relationships, you can get paid BIG if you’re willing to help clean up some of the mess others have left behind. We’ll be hearing more about the “The Janitor” further along in the But I Hate Sales Speaker Series.

Win,

~Chris Bell 3rd

“No” Doesn’t Matter

(An excerpt from the BUT I HATE SALES®  Speaker Series by Christopher Bell, III)

What-Not-to-Do

“No.” One word, one syllable, two letters.

So what is it about that one little word, that can cause normally confident men and women to retreat, pause, or halt their advance toward their breakthrough to a better life? What is it about “no” that causes discomfort, ushers in pause, and can kill the motivation to persevere? If you’re a non-sales professional, answers to these questions and a remedy may require you to remember when and how you initially heard the word “no.”

“No.” (One word, one syllable, two letters) is one of the first words a child ever hears, speaks, or mimics and how one initially learns “no” often determines it’s power and influence, or frames our comfort with the word.  Was “no” used as a warning or word of protection? Was “no” rationed, or unemotionally and judiciously applied in learning, education, or correction; or is the root of “no” emotionally anchored in a legacy of pain, rejection, or behavioral enforcement?

One, some, or all of the aforementioned reasons may be true for you and if you’re like most non-sales professionals… You still haven’t figured out how to deal with “no” and leverage it to your advantage the way some professional sales people have learned to do.

Want to diminish the power of “no” in your life? If you’re a non-sales professional, you may want to follow this thread on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChrisBell3rd to share experiences and to capture insights and tips on how to successfully overcome and manage the dreaded “no” in your business interactions. Until then…

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Never Touch A Public Toilet Seat Again

1505435_134694753367859_303128317_nImagine: A product for women and children that removes anxiety normally associated with using public bathroom facilities.

Well, it’s almost here,  it’s calledThe Tidy Potty” and soon you may never have to touch a public toilet seat again.

As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) in Columbia Maryland, I’m privileged to work with extraordinary start-up companies and visionary executives who are innovating and creating products and services that are being prepared for launch into the marketplace. One such company, Beacoupdeforce Solutions and its CEO Thomas Harris, have a patent-pending for The Tidy Potty that is certain to receive global attention and international demand.

The Tidy Potty is a discreet, portable, safe, flush-able plastic, biodegradable toilet seat cover that is sturdy, thin, and pliable, but still offers a 100%  barrier of protection against moisture, microbes, parasites and debris. Because of its cleverly thought out design of smartly placed elastic for a secure fit on any toilet seat, and (2) tabs placed strategically to denote proper placement and to enable easy removal … The Tidy Potty can be easily and securely applied and removed to and from any toilet seat, without touching any part of the toilet whatsoever.

Kudos to Thomas Harris and Beaucoupdeforce! Here’s a video about the Tidy Potty. Want to know more? Visit www.thetidypotty.com

 

Why I Go To Prison

Jail picGenerally, it’s a good idea to stay out of prison. But as a socially conscious entrepreneur, a portion of my company’s time and revenues are committed to improving the human condition. In response to this “calling” I go inside at least once a week as a volunteer Assimilation Coach sponsored by a faith-based organization with an empirical goal of helping to reduce the ex-offender recidivism rate. While inside, I lead inmates thru a course based on the book “A Purpose-Driven Life” by Rick Warren and interact with a community of male inmates who are incarcerated in a maximum security correctional facility to address their hurts, habits, and hang-ups BEFORE they return to society.

So you may be asking “What’s this got to do with business, sales, or anything that may matter to me?” Here’s some food for thought:

  • An ex-offender I never met before, positively impacted my business. Four  years ago, I stopped to fill my gas tank after visiting Portsmouth, Virginia and a self-professed, former convict informed me that my left-front headlight had blown out. He proceeded to give me “country” directions (a left turn after crossing the railroad tracks) to an AutoZone where his cousin was the manager, and then used my cell-phone to call him at 8:45PM to inform him I was coming for a halogen bulb for my car. I arrived at AutoZone after the store closed, but the store manager opened up, and in the dark, in 15-degree weather, in an empty parking lot, he installed the bulb… for free.  I then drove 4.5 hours up I-95 and the next morning, I completed a presentation and interviews that netted $110k in business/sales revenue in 12 months.
  • Ex-Offenders often become entrepreneurs and business owners out of necessity because they have difficulty securing a decent-paying job in a job market that discriminates against ex-offenders, and they LOVE freedom. As a business owner or sales professional, you may actually be competing with an ex-offender and you don’t know it; they may be buying your products and services, and you may not know it; many are highly motivated because they’re proud of their transformation and know what “the bottom” looks like.
  • Ex-Offenders are getting out of jail. They won’t always be incarcerated. Some forget that these men are someone’s brother, husband, father, son, uncle, cousin, or your former classmate. We should not forget their offense against society and the necessity to pay the penalty for causing harm. However, these are people we will be living and working with, thus, they cannot be ignored.

The net: whether in business or in life, you may not be able to discern the life-path of everyone you interact with, nor ascertain or even care to know their “story.”  Still, it’s probably wise to treat everyone you encounter with a measure of dignity and respect, irrespective of their current condition or socio-economic status as life is strange. You or someone you know could become one of “those people.” The next time you sit down to map out your business plans or sales strategy ask yourself this: “How can I help improve the human condition?”

Chris Bell 3rd

Kiss My Glass of USA: A Veteran-Owned Business With A Smart Start

1925025_276760475817597_1118171973_nHere’s a BIG shout-out and special congratulations to Chuck Davis, CEO of Kiss My Glass of USA http://kissmyglassofusa.com/ for successfully graduating from Project Opportunity – a 10-week, rigorous course prepared for US Military Veterans who are launching new businesses. Here is a PRESS RELEASE featuring the program and it’s graduates.

In addition to successfully launching his new company, Chuck Davis distinguished himself amongst his peers in the Project Opportunity course by standing up 2 new social media business platforms, authoring a summary of details he’d learned about using social media, and explaining how to apply it in his business after taking on an assignment I’d given that was detailed in a blog post I’d written entitled: “Project Opportunity US Military Veterans and Social Media”.

For going the extra mile, I had the privilege of presenting Mr. Davis with the book “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months” by Melinda Emerson… a friend and feature writer for the New York Times. In 2013, Forbes rated Melinda Emerson as the #1 Most Influential Woman in social media for small businesses.

1148967_276760529150925_157320317_nCongratulations Mr. Davis and Kiss My Glass of USA. We’re going to get the word out about you and your US Military Veteran-Owned company!

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Project Opportunity US Military Veterans and Social Media

51dTjt1aVmL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Last night I had the opportunity to share my insights and tips on leveraging social media for business with the Project Opportunity class of US military veterans graduating next week, and I left the class with a contest challenge and opportunity that would require them to uses multiple social media platforms to win a modest prize and public recognition that can be shared across multiple social media platforms. If well-done, positive public recognition for one of the Project Opportunity students may be leveraged to accelerate their business growth.

The Contest

Participation is restricted to the Project Opportunity, Glen Burnie class members of US military veterans graduating on March 18th 2014

Write a brief essay of no more than 250 words, describing the most important thing you learned during our presentation/discussion on social media, and how you plan to leverage social media to grow your business.

Publicly post your essay in the section “Leave a Comment” (just below this blog post) on this website NO LATER THAN SUNDAY, MARCH 16TH.

Optional: follow me on my business Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisBell3rd and on twitter at: https://twitter.com/Chrisbell3rd

Chris Bell 3rd will select the contest winner, and the founder of Project Opportunity, Joe Giordano will announce and present the contest winner with their prize during your graduation ceremony on March 18th 2014.

The Prize

The best-selling book “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months” will be presented to you during next week’s Project Opportunity graduation ceremony in Glen Burnie. This book is best described as being “a month-by-month guide to a business that works” and was brilliantly written by my own executive mentor and personal friend, Melinda Emerson. Melinda is committed to ending small business failure and rated by Forbes as the #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs. She’s also a small business feature writer for the New York Times, hosts #SmallBizChat on Twitter and carries the handle @smallbizlady.

Business Recognition

I’m one of two Winners of the 2010 Melinda Emerson $25,000 Entrepreneur’s Challenge. Melinda’s coaching, counsel, and support over the last four years has been priceless. But the public recognition I received opened doors and gave me access to a network I didn’t know existed.  If you’re a new business owner and entrepreneur in Project Opportunity, here’s your shot to leverage 3rd-party authentication of your winning attitude, hard work, and commitment to the growth of your business via social media.  I look forward to reading your submissions!

Best to All!

Chris Bell 3rd

Schedule Creativity?

indexIf you’re like most entrepreneurs and people of purpose, your calendar is slammed with appointments, meetings, conference calls, team meetings, interviews, personal care, family time, business socials and you frequently find yourself exhausted. Such is the life of an entrepreneur… or is it?

Remember when you once poured hours of creative energy into your business idea before there even was a business? Do you recall when you were in your “creative zone” and then… that once-in-a-lifetime epiphany of your dreams and glimpses of a future reality collided with your conscience and stoked your passion to launch your business? The fact is, a business formed without a culture for creativity is a business on the way to being out of business. So what do YOU do?

As a leader, you’ve already recognized that creativity can be the secret sauce that helps to keep your company competitively differentiated. But how do you seed, develop and nurture that culture in your organization? Here are few ideas:

  • Make it alright, to be wrong: In fact, reward some bad ideas. Why? Because incremental failure or a not-so-great idea, can be the catalyst for creating great ideas. Editing an idea is easy. Creating a viable idea is hard.
  • Make creativity everybody’s job: Put creativity on job descriptions and delegate assignments that challenge your team to create and optimize existing processes that can impact productivity, market competitiveness, and ultimately… the bottom line.
  • Brain Storm: Surrender or set aside office titles and senior/subordinate rank in brain-storming sessions with your team to fuel a collaborative creative processes. It’s amazing what can be achieved if everyone contributes to framing an exceptional idea that takes form and enhances your business.
  • Schedule Creativity and Make it a Priority: Schedule creative time on your calendar and insist that your team does the same. Why? Your competition already has!

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Inspiration in Desperation

iStock_000010025070Medium-300x199That Terrifying Drowning Sensation: When the big deal you’ve been forecasting for 6 months has been deferred and you’re short of quota; your best team member just quit, conversations with your spouse have degraded to grunts and hand signals; sleep deprivation is a constant companion, and now you’re trying to find the bank card for the line of credit that was only going to be used for business emergencies because… it is an emergency. What now?

Drop the Ego and the Denial:  Ask for help. If you don’t know it, the people in your life already know things are unraveling and having tough times… they’re just not telling you. Privately share challenges with a select few within your inner circle of professional trusted advisors or a friend. Quite often the “problem” is not the problem. How we see the problem is the problem and a remedy may not be as complex as initially perceived. Sometimes we need others to believe in the best of us, when we can’t see it.

Relax: Stop flailing about and begin conserving your personal energy. Take your rest as seriously as you take your work. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it may be appropriate to relax and float.  To regain perspective, rest your body, meditate, reconfirm your purpose, and guard your self-talk. Is your “Why” (your reason for doing what you do) big enough to keep you motivated to persist in a sea of issues that threaten to drown you?

Sailors Get Wet: Entrepreneurs, business owners, and business development sales professionals understand that risk is inherent to their profession and sometimes the waves of fear, uncertainty and doubt can wash across our vision, throw us into previously unknown waters, and disorient us.  Mentally prepare for the challenge. The alternative is to waive control over the time, IP, and equity in your life by giving it to an employer as a W-2 employee. What’s better? There’s no right answer. You decide.

Prayer & Meditation: What do you do in your toughest moments?  Perhaps we can take a lesson from a very old book which says: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the resting of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:24 (NIV)

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

“Why” Matters

2013-03-29 21.57.05As a Business Launch Coach with a specialty in business development and technology sales, I have the professional pleasure and privilege of mentoring exceptional entrepreneurs and individuals in start-up companies who are most often in the ideation and pre-launch phases of business maturity.

While most of my clients and constituents have successfully launched their companies and are on the right path to develop new products and services, or are preparing to secure their first round of investment capital, some have taken hard blows and struggle to master the fundamentals of living and enjoying a life that really “matters” after experiencing the sting of failure, teammates quitting, rejection, family instability, relational disintegration, or personal loss for the first time in their career – stuff not covered in business graduate school.

Sadly, our formal business training and education is often constructed to show people how to win in business at all costs while assuming that the achievement of business success and material gain connote personal fulfillment.  The problem: your life is not a business and launching a new company is a full-contact sport. To illustrate that point, one of our great American philosophers, Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.”

In the arena of life, everyone gets hit hard and when it happens (not if it happens) will you be skilled, prepared, willing, and able to successfully defend your business, maintain or enhance your relationships, and make a real difference in the world?  What’s your “Why?” (The reason you do what you do.)

Try this:

  • Take a small dose of humility every morning. Pray, meditate, and plug in to your Creator to know peace in the midst of chaos. Then ask yourself this question: Are your business goals and your life goals congruent; and ultimately are the reasons you fight, compete, and hang on, really sufficient?
  • Insulate yourself from negative influences and the voices of doubt.  Prepare and plan for iterative, incremental failure as part of the “scientific method” (fail often, fail fast) in the success cycle. Failing isn’t fatal until you quit. Your “Why” should be strong enough to help you persevere.
  • Get a coach with business development AND personal development experience to help you map and navigate a path to business AND personal success.
  • Figure out how to give back – commit to becoming a socially conscious entrepreneur BEFORE you experience massive success.
  • Start now. There is no such thing as perfect timing to begin doing the right thing.

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Why Settle?

2013-07-10 07.18.27Consistently connecting with energetic small business leaders and entrepreneurs at events and immersing myself in the day-to-day interactions of the staff working at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and Howard County Economic Development Authority… is simply awesome!

As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, I’m still blessed to have the opportunity to coach and mentor high-energy executives in newly-formed start-ups executives during weekday evening hours and occasionally on weekends. This week I felt like jumping up and down in excitement when a few of the executives I coach and mentor hit some major milestones (but I refrained from doing so after straining my lower lumbar in a heavy workout.)  As awesome as these entrepreneurs are, I’m certain I’ll have another opportunity to celebrate soon, but here’s an example of some wins just for this week:

  • An entrepreneur was just featured in Money Magazine
  • A company launched their business FB page and securing over 4,000 “likes” in their first 24 hours.
  • Another new small business owner secured the investment he needed to take his business to the next level

Work it and Win!

Rookie Tips: Systems and Politics in Sales

stock-illustration-16835359-jumpstart-solutionExcited about your sales career? Good. You should be! However, there is no one size-fits-all reason for individual sales success, though one of several critical variables that determine successful longevity in professional sales is an incumbent’s mastery of existing systems and their ability to identify, learn, unlearn and adopt systemic sales processes that may accelerate or impede their professional success.

So, what is a “system” anyway? BusinessDictionary.com calls it: A set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, OR solve A PROBLEM.

But here are a few problems about the problem:

  • How we view the problem (is it a systemic or individual problem?)
  • The original problem has evolved (Hey, have you guys seen this?)
  • The problem has complex inter-dependencies with other problems (Too big. Not my problem.)
  • You’re in a static, inflexible system (You know our guidelines, what are you doing?)
  • You’re working with the author of the system (Since when did you become the expert?)

Confession and Embarrassment

Early in my career I was employed by a software company and was the only rep to make quota for 6 straight months. In an impromptu meeting with our team, the CEO asked “Chris how did you do it?” I explained that I’d personally and quietly made small, iterative, but continual improvements in a flawed systemic process that ALL of the reps were supposed to follow. I was young, dumb, and totally clueless as to the politics and power moves being made within hierarchies of management I’d never been exposed to at the time.

The result: I embarrassed my boss , my teammates felt as though I was a prima donna, and the author of our systemic sales processes was unintentionally discredited. When I finally achieved my annual quota I was relieved… not happy, and felt like crap. The company dismantled their original sales process and things did improve… without anyone seeking one word of advice from my naive, arrogant a**.

Lessons Learned

  • Master the systems you use and quickly discern how best to win within existing constructs.
  • Understand the difference between systemic and personal failure
  • Test the receptivity of management to new ideas and then adapt to win.
  • Nobody believes you’re an expert until you do what nobody else is doing. Be humble in your achievement.
  • Quickly give other “experts” credit and they will advocate for you when you’re not around.
  • Always be a team player. Sales is a collaborative profession and winning alone… sucks.

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Entrepreneur Coaching & Mentoring

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Howard County Economic Development Authority – Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship

Over the last few months, I’ve consistently said that: “I must have the best part-time job in the country.” As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) I have the privilege of being paid to mentor and coach some of the most talented, energetic, visionary, intelligent people on the planet. With a technology business incubation program, technology council, and other programs all under one roof, the MCE delivers opportunities for literally everyone – innovators, entrepreneurs, established businesses, service providers, and investors.

Last week, I had the privilege of being only one of 3 people asked to participate on a panel to help prepare an 11-year-old Maryland girl to make her business pitch to the 3rd most wealthy man in the US – Warren Buffet. Click here to see a video of the event.

Taking Back 40 Hours Per Month

First and foremost, if you haven’t read “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris… you should pick it up! It’s got some eye-opening recommendations for sales executives and busy business owners with limited resources, big goals, who want more time freedom.

As many have, I picked a chapter in Ferris’ book, then I took a day and detailed every single business and personal activity I did during the day while asking these questions: “Will this activity generate more money AND more freedom; and which of these tasks can be outsourced?” The next steps were painful: five years ago I actually hired and fired 4 different virtual assistant companies in a 3-month period of time because the US-based individuals assigned to me lacked the flexibility, technical skills, and executive communication skills I needed to effectively interact with my high-maintenance prospects and constituents:  C-level executives and business decision-makers in the technology space.

But then, I stumbled upon Dawn Davis. Once I gave Dawn an overview of my business processes, primary objectives, and described my own unique preferences and protocols…  in one week a peaceful confidence and efficiencies I’d never known, cloaked my entire business. Moreover, I was able to pick up an extra 2 hours-a-day/40 hours per month/ 3 months per year of FREEDOM. It’s enabled a personal lifestyle change that allowed me to become more efficient, effective, and happy… generating millions of dollars of new software and services revenue for my employers and clients over the last 5 years. Question: What would you do if you found an extra 3 months per year?

Today, my “Virtual Assistant”, Dawn Davis also serves as my Director of Business Operations AND has brought on a hand-picked staff of extraordinary professionals in her own VA business that are simply top-of-the line. If you want to get your life back while taking your business to the next level… contact me. I’ve got the “hook-up” that could enhance your business 🙂

Win!!!

Christopher Bell, III

Radio Interview: But I Hate Sales™

Perfect World Network: Women in The Morning.

Business Matters,” host Mindy Guisewite interviews Christopher Bell III, the author and creator of the “But I Hate Sales™”  seminars and events for non-sales people. If you own a business or are in business, you don’t want to miss this one! To listen to the radio interview online or to download this episode, click here: Radio Interview

Familiarity – Impediment to Progress

Any consultant who has been around long enough has heard this executive statement:  “I’ve done this before been there before, this is what works, and this is the course we’re taking. I didn’t get here because I’m stupid.”  Alternatively, few are well-positioned to challenge this presumption without fear of termination or loss of opportunity.

FAMILIARITY connotes: “I’ve successfully done this before, so of course I know what I’m doing today.” But In business, many of The Roads of Familiarity which were once traveled without incident have become over-used congested routes that are easy to follow because many that share this mindset and are the same road, reassuring one another… but going nowhere fast.

Here’s an option to consider: Go off-road and change the scenery. Follow a fresh trail of activity to uncover creative microcosms of expertise that are evolving in collaboration away from entrenched centers of understanding that have the potential to stoke the furnace of your creativity. Nevertheless, should you choose the path of familiarity… as least slow your roll, drive cautiously, and adapt to conditions such as you find them. It just makes sense.

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

Where Are The Buyers?

I recently had a flashback…

The first office job I had in the early 80’s was in a telesales sweatshop for Satellite Business Systems (SBS) co-owned by MCI, Comsat, and Aetna. I still have moments when I can hear the mono-toned echoes of my boss’ voice calmly saying: “Bell, make more calls… sales is a numbers game!” And like a hamster on a wheel, I kept running for my “production” numbers, cranking up 60 to 70 calls per day, eating lunch at my desk for my $12,000 base salary and an additional $13,000 in annual commissions… if I made my monthly quota.

As if experiencing déjà vu, I stumbled upon a business owner spouting off similar obsolete half-truths to members of their sales organization because they’re either clueless or in denial.  More than a few of today’s subject matter experts have spoken and written about the latest phenomenon in the buyer-seller dance, which is:  Buyers are self-diagnosing their “pain” and addressing 70% of their own issues before a sales rep can make a sales pitch. Result: by the time a sales professional is engaged in a qualified sales opportunity, the concept of “value” is off the table and price dominates the landscape. New reality: Some of today’s technology sales professionals are being marginalized by savvy buyers who are active before a formal sales engagement and they respect two things: a technology sales subject matter expert AND a fair price.

So, where are the buyers today?

  • They are doing business with your competition in response to a content marketing message that was authored and directed to specifically address their issues in their market segment.
  • They’re on their smart phone watching your competitors YouTube video on a mobile compatible website.
  • They’re buying products and services from people and organizations where they are being educated.

In the technology sales space, today’s sales professionals can longer afford to be generalists as customers are now buying from people that can challenge perceptions and share what they’re unable to discern or discover for themselves thru their own research. Welcome the era of  technology sales subject matter experts.

-Chris Bell 3rd

Why Is The CEO in Sales?

At-a-glance, this wasn’t a promising opportunity. My competition was the established incumbent in my target account and carried “trusted adviser” status in a key circle of internal influence. Moreover, I was a little late to arrive in this competitive scenario so I didn’t even forecast this engagement in an “Opportunity” stage because it would be a long-shot for me to close. However, for my competition (the CEO of an emerging technology company) this was supposed to be an easy, simple, “renewal & upgrade” deal coupled with an opportunity for a co-marketing agreement, right? Think again.

Most CEO’s may have successfully driven an end-to-end sales process at some phase in their company’s growth and development. But more often than not, as the company’s products matured and evolved, many settle into their primary role as the chief visionary and executive responsible for achieving investor requirements.

The result: CEO sales skills get rusty or they may not even be aware of  the recent subtleties and nuances of engagement that have evolved and are preferred by today’s decision-makers. The fact is, keeping up with changes in the technology sales industry aren’t a priority for a company’s senior executive and in general, it’s not easy to do. However, just as world-class professional athletes have training camps, ongoing practices and drills, coupled with personal performance coaching to stay competitive… so do the top technology sales reps. Therefore, matching-up a highly motivated and well-intentioned CEO against a well-trained, tuned-up sales executive may not be a fair fight. The bell had been rung, and I salivated like Pavlov’s Dog… sensing that a high-profile slam dunk on a competitor was now possible. Here’s why:

  • A full-time CEO is a part-time sales rep.  Focus, or lose to those who do.
  • No Escalation Option. Things happen. Something will go wrong.  Guess who has just put their executive reputation on the line?
  • Limited Leverage in Negotiations. Have you ever seen a senior executive being humbled and having to put their ego in check because they’ve been turned into a “Discount Queen” to save a deal the Board of Directors were guaranteed would close? It’s not pretty… not pretty at all.
  • Limited Account Knowledge.  A CEO can’t take the time to go deep AND wide in large enterprise engagements or in complex sales scenarios to really know and validate economic and technical buyer influences. Nor are they postured to challenge incorrect presumptions.  Last but not least, managing an internal home pursuit team that doesn’t normally “play” together while leveraging limited internal resources… is a nightmare for all parties.
  • FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt)  A CEO who manages deals in competitive scenarios may be unintentionally promoting uncertainty and instability that translates in buyer code as “desperation.”
  • Alienation from the Bottom.  Do W-2 salaried, director-level business and technology managers (generally the evaluators) feel comfortable transparently interacting with a self-employed, soon-to-be mega-rich CEO? Some do and some don’t. Want to risk it?

The net: Just because you can sell… it doesn’t mean you should.  Mr. CEO thank you. No, really… I mean it. THANK YOU.

-Chris

Selling With a Home Field Advantage

Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore MD

Obsolete: the habit of regularly showing up to onsite customer meetings and sales engagements to influence the sales process.  It is a time-consuming, expensive activity that is being usurped by a preference for virtual engagements for every-day business interactions.

Remedy: Change the game and modify your selling process. Instead, focus on the customer’s buying process and determine how and when to strategically insert a single milestone event that can give you an unbeatable edge in close, fierce, competitive scenarios.

Objective: Home Field Advantage. Once an account executive has secured affirmation from his internal team that she’s engaged in a qualified sales opportunity, she should preset expectations with the prospect that an invitation for a small group of their peers (technical influencer, business influencer, executive coach, economic buyer, technical decision-maker)  is forthcoming for them  to meet the teams who are responsible for leading the company, developing the product, successfully implementing the solution, and providing customer support.

Your pitch: “Would you buy a product or solution that can affect your career and your enterprise without knowing or meeting the people you may be consummating an agreement with?  My company is willing to pay the fees for your travel accommodations for a half-day visit to help you mitigate the risk of your pending decision,  if you’re willing to invest the time to show up to personally see how our technology AND our people will exceed your business requirements .”

Result: Competitive Immunity

  • Accelerate Trust: 1:1 Face Offs = CEO with Decision-maker; CFO with Economic Buying Influencer; CTO with technical influencer & evaluator, etc…
  • The Sales Account Manager runs the show – his internal pursuit team works for her thru this milestone event
  • Affirming 3rd Party Reference: An existing customer can share their vendor experiences, selection criteria, use-case, and reason for selection with the Prospect Entourage via online Web-Meeting presentation/discussion while visiting.
  • Huge Potential ROI:  For four-thousand dollars (less than the cost of attending some conferences) a company can secure a car& driver, hotel, lunch/dinner, airline/train tickets for 4 to 5 people in order to initiate a long-term collaborative business relationship with hundreds of thousands of dollars in new sales revenues attached to it.
  • Product Development & Futures Presentation:  Prospects not only buy what you have… but what you’re going to have. Sharing a product development timeline or high-level details of pending releases implies future benefits will be realized for near-term decisions.
  • Allows for the introduction of Value-Based selling:  Today’s buyers are always seeking ways to commoditize the products they buy. Hosting prospects onsite can be advantageous in pricing negotiations and inhibit the need for significant discounting.

Win,

-Christopher Bell, III

Speaker Series: 2013 Tech Sales Trends & Tips

423876_3015206471201_20528481_nThe 2013 Technology Sales Arena. Are there new rules and new tools? Will it be a New Year with new fears? The velocity of change is only increasing in the technology sales/business development arena  and you already know… what got you here, won’t keep you here. You’re invited to register and attend a presentation hosted by the Howard County Economic Development Authority Speaker Series, authored by Chris Bell, III entitled “2013 Tech Sales Trends & Tips” that may transform your business.

Registration details are below…

Date: Friday, February 8th 2013
Time: 9AM to 10:30AM
Location: Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship
Address: 9250 Bendix Road, Columbia MD 21045
Registration http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5066734740#

 

Video: Calling on Technology Sales Experts!

Coming in February 2013!

Coming in February 2013!

Sales training, books, CD’s, pod-casts, and seminars are integral to framing our understanding of what it takes to win in the technology sales/business development profession.  But has yesterday’s expert advice lost some of its efficacy or potency? What’s the shelf-life and expiration date on so-called “best practices” and established methodologies?  What’s new and what’s coming?  Can we talk about it?

In February 2013 “The Razor’s Edge” will be re-launched as a forum featuring blog posts and videos created by TODAYS experts who will share their personal insights and tips with “all who would see and hear.”  Want to further establish your street cred in the sales/ biz development arena?  Contact CB3 at chris@chrisbell3rd.com  to introduce yourself and schedule a brief interview to discuss sharing your expertise with our peers in this new forum launching in February 2013!

The Obsolete Technology Sales Culture

Great, Old Players

This week I was casually listening to a “seasoned” sales executive reminisce about the “good old days”… when he knew he was top dog because he was receiving a sales order order by this new courier called Federal Express. Then I went home and as I was sitting in my basement home office, I gazed at a bookshelf containing over one hundred plus sales & business-related books I’d bought, read, or acquired in the last 12 years and then it hit me: (besides spending too much money) much of what I’ve read and the counsel proposed in many of these may be obsolete today. The game has changed and many of the best old players… couldn’t compete and win in today’s hyper-competitive technology sales arenas.

What Happened?  Nothing really. Ever since mankind stood on two legs, somebody has been selling and not many people esteemed those in the profession. In fact, I’d describe society’s perspective regarding sales people as being one of  strained tolerance. That was yesterday. Today’s prospective buyers don’t have to take it anymore. They can do a Google or Wikipedia search and at the click of a mouse secure information that used be only available via a sales rep; they’ll research their options and get referrals about how you’ve treated your customers by reading their blog posts; they’ll communicate with like-minded buyers via twitter, and before they’ve even meet a salesperson face-to-face, it’s likely they’ll read the salespersons LinkedIn profile to validate their professionalism and character thru common connections. The net: Potential customers have more leverage and there’s more transparency in the buyer-seller relationship in a game that’s been evolving for years.

Why? Frankly, potential buyers have been frustrated or angry for years and they should be! For them, today’s revenge is sweet as the tables have turned on those who for decades have advocated “anything goes” to do business. Billions of dollars have been spent teaching sales people how to close deals and build careers vs. solving real business problems, and many traditional sales tactics and strategies are adversarial or manipulative processes (and everybody knows it.) This old reality resulted in the implementation of buyers deploying defensive, dysfunctional buying processes that have made it extremely difficult for those sales professionals who are operating on a platform of integrity and presenting excellent products to be successful. In fact, I don’t know a single sales professional who during sometime in their career, hasn’t exercised their training only to reach the crossroads of a moral decision to either knowingly do the wrong deal because of their management’s quota pressure, or walk away from it with their integrity intact and a termination notice in-hand.

The Old-New Reality: We all know that there always have been, and always will be deal-whores and hustlers without a moral compass. But today’s access to information and the exercise of social media for business empowers and informs potential buyers as never before to quickly ascertain who is authentic and whats hype. The winners? Sales and marketing organizations leveraging the latest tools who have established a corporate culture of selling with integrity for the purpose of developing mutually beneficial collaborative business relationships with their customers.  The result: good sales professionals will actually be able to afford to do the morally right thing. It’s about time.

Win,

-Chris

(Video) A Technology Sales Team Tune-Up

 

My name is Christopher Bell, III and I’ve spent more than a few years successfully generating new sales revenues in both information technology and biotechnology software sales arenas as an individual contributor, sales executive, and coach to more than a few six-figure sales producers.  But along the way, I’ve been perplexed by the callous brutality of some of some senior sales executives who prematurely terminate their sales athletes out of frustration, with little warning or opportunity to honestly remedy or ascertain the root cause of poor sales performance problems. Worse, a few have privately confessed (after summoning the courage to exercise introspective due diligence) that the primary culprit for failing to hit revenue goals …was looking back at them in the mirror.

“Call high!” Great… Now what is a rep supposed to say and do when they get to the executive suite, AND is it enough to be invited back? “You need to make more calls” is a common sales management cliché and default cop-out for some execs who aren’t able to successfully address complex sales and marketing collaboration deficiencies. So, how do you evaluate sales effectiveness BEFORE deals are forecasted or before the competency of your sales management and leadership is questioned? Obsolescence in the sales profession is quite real and the velocity towards the cliff of irrelevance is accelerating. The net: What got you here… isn’t enough to keep you here. Is your sales team struggling because of organizational systemic failure and obsolete processes, protocols and tools you’ve put in place; OR are they lacking the evolving sales skills and a personal sales coach  to help them win in a hyper-competitive business environment? Perhaps, it’s ALL OF THE ABOVE, but how do you know?

Call CB3 at 443-398-2230 or email dawn@chrisbell3rd.com to schedule an appointment with me to discuss a tune-up or remedy for your sales organization thru a One-on-One Personal Sales Coaching Program designed for sales athletes, and our consulting services developed to optimize your existing sales processes & tools necessary to improve sales forecast reliability. Nobody knows it all. Let us help you take your technology sales organization to the next level… and win!

VIDEO – A CB3 COMPLEX SALES PROCESS MAP

WHAT DO SALES REPS AND EXECUTIVES HAVE TO SAY?

“… a sales professional that you want on your team, because if he is on your competitor’s team you will lose.” Carl Fijat, Business Development Manager, Cisco

“…an innovative problem solver and has an extensive understanding of the strategy it takes to move forward in a complex selling environment.” Cris Lull, VP Business Development & Sourcing, Optoro

“… a significant portion of my sales knowledge came from Chris, which helped shape my successful sales process today.”  David Michaels, Federal Account Manager, CLC Bio

CB3 Featured Success Story

Howard County Economic Development Authority

Most of the entrepreneurs and small business owners we know work extraordinarily hard to transform their business vision into a reality but too few are provided with an opportunity to be recognized.

CB3 is both humbled and proud to be featured in this recent Howard County Economic Development Success story:  http://www.hceda.org/grow-a-business/success-stories/chris-bell-3rd.aspx.

We are grateful to our family, friends, the Howard County Maryland business community, and our global clientele and their customers for their continued confidence, trust, and support.

Thank you!!!!

 

 

10 Tips To Transition Into Technology Sales

The Technology Sales Arena is where the elite of the sales profession compete to deliver solutions that transform and improve businesses and governments and they are commonly rewarded with six-figure annual income opportunities. Most are professionals… not peddlers. So how does one begin or transition their career into technology sales?  Here’s an update of some tips I recently discussed with a group last week, that I initially authored and posted a few years ago.

1. Avoid going in thru the front door via human resources. Traditional hiring processes are exclusionary, meaning they’re designed to keep people out. HR personnel can only say “No” they can’t say “Yes” to a potential hire. Leverage HR after you’ve connected with the hiring manager. If you can’t connect with a real decision-maker to personally present your value, then you’re not ready for a technology sales career transition. The best senior sales executives in the competitive and lucrative tech sales business are hunting for candidates with equal measures of competency, professionalism, and tenacity.

2. Talk with people in the niche you wish to work to ascertain what’s hot, relevant, and what’s keeping those in the know up at night. Read their blogs, attend their virtual webinars and follow subject matter experts on social media networks. There is a strong connection that can be developed by discussing the highlights of another person’s interests and having insight into their subject matter expertise.

3. Do your homework. Study a lot. Read trade periodicals to become familiar with the general language and buzz words of a specific technical field of interest; Download white papers and brochures; Go undercover “Geek” and attend free Meetups and conferences to become familiar with local industry influencers, experts, and icons.

4. Leverage LinkedIn and social media platforms. Follow a few companies you’d really want to work with and aggregate compelling info and job postings to understand their business priorities. If they’re publicly listed, dial into their quarterly call, and read their 10-k. These activities will detail the latest news, opportunities, wins, and concerns of the company.

5. When contacting a decision-maker ask them for their help and advice (everyone wants to help someone.) Get to know their executive assistant or secretary and ask them to setup an informal 20-minute introduction at their local coffee shop before business hours, or setup an invitation for a quick sandwich and informal lunch at a local deli.

6. To schedule a meeting you should be prepared to restate some of the quotes in public documents, discuss recent news from their press releases, or paraphrase statements made on the company’s quarterly report. Always leave the person you’re speaking with the impression you know as much or more about their company, than they do!

7. Memorize the salient points of a company’s summary product brochure or website word-for-word so that by the time you get a face-to-face meeting, the person you’re meeting can visualize you as fellow colleague or employee.

8. Success in sales is about your track record. Winners want to be around winners and winning (like losing) is a habit. Always be prepared to be your own best advocate by sharing where have you won before in life and in your career. Be quick to give kudos to those who helped you to achieve #1 status in previous endeavors. Humility and gratitude will empower you to ask: “If you were in my shoes, what would be your next best step?”

9. Present a professional business card. The best tips and insights I’ve ever heard regarding the development and use of business cards were offered by an associate of mine, Steve Fisher in a presentation he did entitled: 10 Rules for Killer Business Cards. http://www.slideshare.net/stevenfisher/10-rules-for-killer-business-cards-slideshare

10. On employee skills testing“there will never be, and there has never been a test that can prove the heart of winner”Art Williams. Don’t be intimidated by the technology verbiage, acronyms, and the “geek factor” you will undoubtedly encounter. Most disciplines and specialties are intentionally, superficially, and deceptively presented as being complex to enhance the reputations and certifications of their practitioners. The net: This stuff isn’t that hard. You’ll get training and your focus will be on solving business problems.

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

 

“Gimme Your Lunch Money!”

Remember that kid back in grade school who used to bully and extort other kids to get their lunch money or favorite treats?  It seems that in technology sales, the same juvenile antics are being played out again amongst educated, highly trained, generally confident adults who happen to be in sales roles. Are reps willing to fight for their deals?  I was recently doing an audit for a sales executive who wanted to know “Why are so many of our qualified opportunities mysteriously stalling or evaporating from our sales pipeline and revenue forecast?”

Over the next few weeks I quietly uncovered the issue:  While all  the sales reps knew their products and even their competition quite well, they had unknowingly or unconsciously allowed themselves to be subtly lulled into complacency or bullied and intimidated by: their prospects flawed buying processes, a competitors new marketing campaign or product release, or the unethical antics of their competitors. Why? Some weren’t trained to take action to aggressively respond to potential deal-breakers. Others were hiding behind their computer monitors – as there’s very little emotional investment made in virtual interactions. Others were unnerved by negative innuendo,  feared future non- buying threats and reprisals, and almost all avoided difficult or potentially contentious conversations for fear of rejection. (I know what you’re thinking: “Fear of rejection as an issue for a sales rep?”) Yup, especially when sales people aren’t hired by executives with sales experience but that’s a separate issue.

Fast forward in time: We’re no longer in the 4th grade and if there’s ever a time to fight for a deal and your business… it’s now. “Show & Tell” sales processes and activities have their place, but on occasion a sales rep is going to encounter a bully. While nobody’s lunch money is on the line anymore,  your company’s capitol investments and the future employment status of  you and your colleagues could take a hit.  Look at it this way:  Someone is taking the down-payment and mortgage money for your dream home right out of your  bank account because a rep chose to not to fight; Someone is attempting take away the choices as to where you vacation, where your kids go to school, what you can afford to drive, the quality of your retirement… and more.

So, now that you know…what are you going to do about it?

 

Unplug and Change the View

A business associate and I arrived at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in Columbia, Maryland this morning with our coffee in-hand feeling a bit sleep deprived, (which isn’t unusual for most entrepreneurs) because we pulled an all-nighter planning, checking, and double-checking the schedule and quality of our client’s project deliverables. We both agreed: “We’re at capacity – It’s time to bring on more people… we’ve got to scale up.” 

A few hours later I dragged myself home and realized that I hadn’t watched or listened to the news in a few days and when I did… I couldn’t relate to the gloom & doom, or the depressing economic forecasts that the talking heads and financial experts were broadcasting as their pronouncements were foreign to where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve nor am I one of the bourgeoisie. I know some extraordinary people who are going through hell on a day-to-day basis looking for employment. I also know what it’s like to be suddenly laid off from a decent paying job, with 2 kids in college at the same time, and accepting a part-time job to clean toilets and mop floors in a local office building as a janitor very late at night (so I wouldn’t risk the embarrassment of being seen by my friends or neighbors with a mop and a bucket.) But that experience INSPIRED me, humbled me, and shook me out of my complacency and acceptance of the status quo.

So for my nearly-broke, unemployed, desperate compatriots out there who are trying to hold it together for their children and their families who are praying for a break… I’ve been there and hope this may help: Turn off the TV and stop paying attention to the unemployment numbers as they have nothing to do with your destiny. Control your environment, break the cycle of negative communication and start thinking BIG. Have you ever thought about launching your own small biz?  Learn new skills NOW; begin connecting with other entrepreneurs, get out of your comfort zone, build a network of potential clientele, become a student of business, and put yourself in a position to discern and take on business opportunities that may transform your life and elevate your legacy.  The net: you’re not a loser and where you are today has nothing to do with your destination. Moreover, the most important people in your life, you may not even know yet so prepare yourself and…

Persevere,

Chris Bell 3rd

The Pinocchio Tax

 It’s no secret that the sales training industry is a billion dollar business and many of us are its beneficiaries. The question is, who’s preparing and protecting the businesses and consumers who are doing the buying? I LOVE the sales profession and enjoy working with PROFESSIONALS – people committed to a standard of excellence and ethics in the profession who will walk away from a deal when it’s not a fit. But my peers and I become infuriated when we think about the “peddlers” – the imitators and amateurs that have given our profession a bad reputation and disrupted business across the globe. Countless businesses and consumers have been harmed by the manipulative tactics of poorly trained, unethical, non-professional peddlers posing as sales professionals and the chasm of distrust that exists between sales people and their prospective buyers… couldn’t be wider than it is today. The result: everyone ends up paying a “Pinocchio Tax.”

So, what is this so-called “Pinocchio Tax?”  Here’s an example: “After checking customer references, an intelligent, highly-educated business executive purchases an enterprise solution for their company from a lying, manipulative peddler, who is under pressure “to close.”  (By the way, what fool would share a bad reference anyway?)  Shortly thereafter it becomes clear that there are “issues” with implementing the newly purchased solution. The result: Buyers don’t trust themselves and HATE sales because…

  • The credibility and competency (and career) of the decision-maker is brought into question.
  • Additional consulting professional services may have to be contracted to make things work and quite often higher prices are passed on to consumers to cover business losses.
  • Buyers don’t trust themselves so they form evaluation & selection committees who often don’t know as much as a single qualified subject matter expert who has abdicated the influence of their expertise, influence, and authority, for fear of failure.
  • Projects become longer, more susceptible to failure, and more expensive to manage resulting in elongated buying cycles that cause vendor sales forecasts to fluctuate wildly, seemingly without cause.
  • The best sales professionals in the business are often forced into “rebound sales & buying relationships” and are held hostage to new flawed buying processes and expectations because buyers remain traumatized by a previous buying relationship. Buyers never really give the best a fair shot at delivering their best.

In the end… this Pinocchio Tax hits most businesses, organizations, and the legitimate sales professionals who are working to improve their businesses and households. The But I Hate Sales™ seminars and products are being launched to empower businesses and consumers preparing for sales engagements. Legitimate sales professionals will be delighted because now, your buyers will know who you are and will prefer to do business with you. It’s about time.

This post was originally published from the “But I Hate Sales™ website.

Christopher Bell, III

Six Olympian Tips for Technology Sales

Closing Ceremonies 2012 London Olympics

Now that the closing ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics are over and the world have had a chance to see the best athletes in the world, one of the questions I asked as a technology sales athlete was: “What did we see and hear that can be applied to enhance our performance AND make a difference in our profession?”

Both Olympians and sales athletes struggle with the demands of daily living, rejection, competition, and family matters but sales athletes also wade thru frigid buying cycles driven by global fiscal constraint, and a more knowledgeable and informed buyer. So, how can you keep winning in the technology sales profession for 5, 10, 15, or even 20+ years and still LOVE what you do? Here are 6 observations and tips from world-class Olympic competitors that might help:

  • Technology matters. Just because you sell technology products and services doesn’t mean you’re competent using them to become a more effective professional.  The velocity of change requires top competitors to leverage the latest tools and techniques to prepare, train, and win in a hyper-competitive niche.
  • Win today or find yourself sitting in the crowd watching others achieve your dream. Winning is habitual… and so is losing. Whatever you do once, your mind validates it as a possibility. Win and you can win again.
  • Schedule your rest like you schedule your work.  Reject the “always-on” trend. Without sufficient rest & recovery your performance will suffer.
  • Get a coach. If a world-class, gold-medal Olympian has coach, why wouldn’t a sales athlete?
  • Specialize. Just because you run a great 100 meters, is no guarantee you’ll finish a marathon. The internet can make anyone a generalist in a few days. Become an expert and others will call on you when they reach their limits.
  • Give Back. Few can understand the unique psyche, passion, focus, training methods, and intensity of a champion… except other champions, their closest competitors, and the ones who loved them before they were successful. Share what you know with a few select, disciplined, and dedicated professionals who will commit to do the same when they win.

Win!

Chrs

Initiating Collaboration That Matters

Last month, I invited a few of my peers – a highly respected entrepreneur, a sales professional, and a business development expert to my office in Ellicott City, MD to participate in a Business Development Collaborative Initiative (BDCI) I started with IGLOO Software in Ontario, Canada. The purpose: to ascertain whether synergies exist amongst participants that could be leveraged for our mutual benefit.  The result: Two participating executives signed agreements and we’ll be working on driving business together.

Von Wright, MBA

A week later I was in Charlotte, NC invited to share and exchange ideas with several business executives and new MBA and PhD graduates regarding: the nuances of successfully launching and managing their own small businesses; the CB3 “But I Hate Sales™” Seminars being rolled out in September; and framing new initiatives that address the needs of the under-served.  Southern hospitality was at its best in Charlotte as I was a guest in the home of Von Wright, MBA – a highly motivated businessman (who happens to be a former Marine, former US Army Officer, an Airborne qualified logistics expert, and my Pershing Rifles fraternity brother) and his hostess wife whose awesome cooking is responsible for making me put on 5 lbs. 🙂

Lessons learned:  There’s power in transparency in YOUR personal story. While it’s necessary to use wisdom in the management or disclosure of your intellectual property, there’s no substitute for sharing and exchanging great ideas and real-world perspectives with ethical, highly motivated professionals with purpose.  Want to expand your network, be introduced into warm markets, and transform lives while being handsomely compensated? Stop trying to win alone. Take the time to share what you know and commit to “pushing up people” (a phrase made famous by the great Art Williams.)

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

The Cost of Time Traps

Most small business owners, entrepreneurs, and technology sales professionals expect to live pretty hectic, out of balance, and occasionally sleep-deprived lives for more than a few seasons as they transition from predictable industrial-age working hours to the state of “constant-on” where the word is out:  BEING AT WORK IS NO LONGER A PLACE, IT IS A STATE OF MIND.  As a result we don’t watch the clock in a way that most salaried employees do because for us… executing linear, non-revenue generating tasks and activities is an unrecoverable expense and TIME TRAP that doesn’t add equity to the bottom line of our businesses that we can leverage later. Nor does it put additional commissions into the wallets of most sales and business development professionals that’s sufficient to improve their lifestyles.

Here’s a little math that nets out the necessity and justification to avoid ONE TIME TRAP ACTIVITY (and most people have more than one.) Let’s assume you’re a technology sales rep and you earn $100k annually, which means your hourly wage is $48.08. If you spend 3 hours per day talking to unqualified people or doing activities that don’t put you in front of prospects who are ready, willing, and able to buy… it’s costing you $2,884 monthly or $34,617 annually. Over a 3-year period (the average on-the-job tenure of a technology sales rep) that nets out to be a $103,851 top-line, cold-cash loss. The opportunity loss (because you’re not using that TIME to focus on activities most likely to convert to real revenue)… is incalculable. Disturbed yet? I hope so.

Change & Win,
Christopher Bell, III

“Let’s Do Dinner” – A Failure to Reciprocate?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a team pumping out a few high-quality leads (like the inside sales crew at IGLOO Software to supplement your own activity) you feel super-loved and supported but under no illusion… you know that’s how they’re compensated.

When sales professionals have significant business opportunity engagements in the technology space,  they’re also introduced to enough economic buyers (EBs) in the normal course of  regular qualification and discovery processes that enable them to begin handing out really good, qualified leads to colleagues and peers working with other organizations – as long as it’s clear their products and solutions aren’t a fit, and there’s no competition for the same budget.  Unfortunately, it’s also quite likely they’ll receive a generic token of appreciation from the recipient of the lead that sounds like this:

 “Oh, thank you so much! We really have to get together sometime for dinner or maybe hit the links – I’ll call you!”  Even if the bearer of good news doesn’t say it, they’re thinking: “you’re kiddin’ me, right?  I just passed you a fat, actionable lead that’s going to  keep your insecure butt out of the fire for another 90 days or that may change your life, and you just pitched me the superficial oh-we-really-do-have-to-get-together-sometime” rap?

Me? I’m of the opinion that the “let’s do dinner” response is obsolete and that we should all press “reset”, start over, and think again about this aspect our professional interactions.

Instead of offering me dinners and golf outings that you know will never materialize, why not just make it a priority to reciprocate by returning the favor received by giving a qualified lead, in exchange for a really good qualified lead.  It’s the “golden rule:” do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In the process you replicate yourself and put another set of feet, eyes, ears, and an advocate into companies and places you don’t have access to… yet.

Want to take your sales initiatives to a higher level? Give away qualified leads, set reciprocity as a condition for lead-giving and then watch both you AND your peers income increase.  Dinner?  Thanks, but my wife called – “Big Daddy’s” going home to a feast of lovin’. 🙂

Rain check?

-Chris Bell

Video: But I Hate Sales™ – The Beginning

Two years ago I was reading thru some of my old journal entries and one theme I’d consistently stumbled across in my professional life was that most of the people whom I knew, loved, and respected … hated sales (and avoided sales people in general.) In fact, most didn’t want to be associated with selling anything, or they were envious of sales people (“My God do you know how much money he made for one deal?”) Others were terrified at the thought of being perceived as a “salesperson.”

Then it hit me – while companies are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars annually into sales training, who is training non-sales professionals who are doing the buying? Why is selling and buying so hard? What has been the impact of this in-congruence on businesses and families? Why not change the game? So I did… and began creating the But I Hate Sales™ Series of seminars and products with the inaugural seminar taking place on Thursday September 13that the Columbia Hilton in Columbia, Maryland.  Welcome to But I Hate Sales™

Christopher Bell, III

Don’t Jump, It’s Temporary – A Sales Recovery Scenario

I recently received a call from a colleague whom I’ve sold with and coached regularly. He was sending me his sales plan and recent revenue numbers for us to discuss together.  With a new job and in his first quarter with a new employer, one of the best revenue producers I’d known found himself bearing witness to the atrophy of his initial revenue forecast commitment.  The Result:  embarrassment, frustration and disgust at the thought of being at the bottom of a sales leader board. (Note – this was also a déjà vu moment for me.)

After listening to 10-minutes of venting, I asked: “Are you finished yet?”  He laughed when realizing his Type-A, hyper-competitive personality was both an asset and a curse… if it wasn’t kept in check. This scenario also provoked me to spend time in introspection as I asked myself “Do I sound like that too?”

Here are the Top 5 Actions we agreed to implement to change the view from the bottom of the leader board.

 Take a humility pill: step away from the ledge, and don’t jump!  You’re good – not God.  The view from the bottom is usually temporary and in transitional scenarios such as this, finger-pointing can be dangerous and self-condemnation is premature.  Share your perspectives with a supportive manager and winners on the team to leverage their experience for guidance.

Practice a Flawless Opening:  It’s true – first impressions count.  Be prepared and be certain you have articulated or presented clear, concise, and compelling business reasons for them to remain engaged with you… again. An acceptance for a meeting invitation is nothing. The question is, are you being invited back?

Think Big, Be Big: You’ll work just as hard for a $5,000 deal as you will a $50,000 deal… and won’t achieve your quota objectives. Re-prioritize your focus to invest 80% of your the time and energy doing those things that matters most, with contacts who are ready, willing, and able to buy.  Delegate non-revenue generating activities and engage in those activities that will make a BIG difference quickly.

Network with your peers & recruit new partners:  This company’s largest previous deal came from a lead which was supplied by a partner. Replicate success and recruit other partners who have ongoing access to the hottest projects, understand the latest trends and have executive-level access to the clients you want to do business with.

 Up-sell Existing Customers & Revisit Lost Deals: The fastest path to new revenue has always been thru an existing customer. Initiate account reviews to ascertain what’s changed, discuss new capabilities and ask for referrals.

Win,

Chris Bel, III

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

 

If you’re in the sales/business development game you’ve already figured this out: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Here are 5 tips that may enhance your effectiveness and productivity:

Avoid Going Alone:  An “A” quality demo expert + an “A” quality business/sales expert = an “A quality” buying and sales experience for all parties.  The result: Bigger deals and better forecasts.  Demo experts can concentrate on delivering the best “Wow” moments and connect technical features with real prospect challenges or requirements. Business/sales people can strategically optimize every minute of a demo or proof encounter to note, nurture, and enhance business dynamics. Just as importantly, there’s no substitute for a 2-party post-demo debriefing. Everyone gets better.

 Take a Humility Pill:  Don’t always answer.  Where a prospect asks a question, find a way for someone else to get credit for the response to accelerate the speed of trust and reduce perceptions of risk in your engagement by introducing a SME.  Promote others.

 Delegate:   Maybe you can do it all. Great! Now let’s assume you have an annual 6-figure income and at a minimum you earn $50 per hour to engage in customer-facing, revenue generating activities.   Appointment-setting, CRM administration, cold-calling, social media activities, etc… are all absolutely necessary, but at $50 per hour?  Probably not.  Secure a virtual assistant at $10 to $15 per hour to put thousands of dollars of productivity values back in your wallet, and to provide a foundation of focused intensity back in your day allowing you to prioritize those prospects that appear ready, willing, and able to buy.

 Recognize Systemic Failure and Adapt:  One can keep doing what they’re doing and claim “I was just following orders” without regard to the results OR one can look at how their personal numbers are trending AND adapt. Some things take time to develop, but if existing systems and processes aren’t working for you, don’t complain. Personally develop your own “smarketing” (or corrective sales + marketing activities) where both marketing and sales outcomes are below mutual expectations.  Share the facts with management and get creative with your marketing organization.

 Collaborate: interact with a few trusted colleagues and peers outside of your sales organization. Fresh eyes can often see what you can’t while also providing excellent counsel along the way. Just as importantly, you may be able to recruit your peers to bird-dog and pre-qualify opportunities for you!  At CB3, we welcome the opportunity to share ideas, leads, and… revenue splits for closed deals.

Win,

Chris Bell III

From the Top: How Did You Do It?

As the founder of the company, over the last day or so, I received a few inquiries and notes of congratulations (and even one warning) about CB3’s transformation from “solopreneurship” but the most common question was: “How did you do it?”

Answer: “I” didn’t do it, and my experience is that few people actually make it on their own.  I’ve had access to a phenomenal supporting cast of extraordinarily talented people and professionals who have patiently and unselfishly poured themselves into my development, and whom I’ve personally won with in business.  Along the way, I’ve become humbled by their generosity, grateful for the opportunities presented, and carried by my faith.  With these assets, it’s easy to be inspired.

Win,

ChrisBell3rd

A Solopreneur Transformation

We’ve been REALLY busy.  Yes, I did say “we.” At CB3 (or for the more formally inclined, ChrisBell3rd & Company LLC) we’ve done more than just a little re-branding in the last 120 days. Here’s what I mean…

We’ve always understood that complimentary synergies exist between our executive clients, our peers in the business development technology arena, and our potential customers.  In response, CB3 has developed four new service offerings for executives of small technology companies and start-ups; Our peers are already talking aboutThe Razor’s Edge” – a digital destination where business development (sales, marketing) subject matter experts will be sharing insights to improve performance; and we’re delighted to be able to educate a community of future buyers and consumers in our upcoming “But I Hate Sales™” Seminars.  But there’s more! We now share office space in the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, which makes it immensely easier to do local business.  But MOST IMPORTANTLY,  we’ve evolved from solo-preneurship by adding a small, highly motivated TEAM of talented professionals to help optimize all business interactions (and yes… we remain on the hunt for exceptional talent.)

What’s next?  Subscribe to this page to hear about our upcoming Razor’s Edge featured guests; watch for the posting of the new “But I Hate Sales™ ” schedule; and for the next 30 days, read the daily, public “shout-outs” of gratitude and thanks to individuals or companies who have helped to make our transition possible.

Subscribe to this Conversations page… and don’t miss out!

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

Relaunching with New Products and Services for 2012!


At ChrisBell3rd & Company, LLC (also known as CB3) these are REALLY exciting times! A little more than two years ago, I started the company as a Solopreneur with only $395 after being laid off. The following year I was recognized as a Winner, in a 2010  $25,000 Entrepreneurs Challenge.

Today, in less than three years we’ve been able to expand our services, maintained several long-term partnership agreements, closed multi-million dollar contracts for our clients, moving into shared office space, and have become established as trusted advisors to CEOs and executives across the globe with an exemplary track record for performance. The net: we’re growing as a company, adding great professionals to our team, and we believe it’s a perfect time to TUNE-UP and:

  • Initiate a WEBSITE MAKEOVER
  • REBRAND the company
  • Introduce an impressive NEW BUSINESS VIDEO DESTINATION
  • Present our NEW SERVICES
  • Leverage EXCEPTIONAL RESOURCES
  • SUPPORT others in our COMMUNITY

Come back and visit us soon and keep up with activities related to our business re-launch here to…

Win!!!!!

-Chris Bell III

chris@chrisbell3rd.com

Telephone: 443.718.0977

Another Reason for Excellence

Fighting in Afghanistan

I just finished spending the weekend with The National Society of Pershing Rifles Alumni Association (NSPRAA) at our annual Royal Blue & White Weekend celebration at Morgan State. More than a few of these guys are commissioned officers in the US armed forces just back from “The Sandbox” (Iraq/Afghanistan) and some are going back for their 2nd and 3rd deployments.

A few of us were talking about a “brother” who was hit by an IED in Afghanistan,  and the severity of  his wounds, when someone asked me “Bell, how’s it going with you?” I decided to make my response pretty brief because when I think about what I do, and then think about the sacrifice those in uniform are making on a day-to-day basis… my business and professional transition issues seemed fairly petty.  Here’s what I said:

“My business  is in transition, growing, and in this climate of fiscal constraint and layoffs… I’m doubly blessed to also have a well-paying  job that I love.  Look for a complete business website makeover in 10 days.”  Then, I shut up.  They wouldn’t want to hear about my hiring a virtual assistant and operations specialist who proactively manage most day-to-day business requirements nor hear the benefit of being able to stay focused and productive in a full-time, W-2 position as a Solutions Strategist.

After this weekend, it’s no longer business-as-usual for me. I was reminded that people I know, respect, and care about are paying a heavy price in foreign lands so that I can follow my dreams at home.  I owe them my best. What about you?

Win, Chris

The Stereo-Typical Sales Manager

If you’re in sales… you’ll love this video. If you’re sensitive to rough language… this isn’t it for you. Still, It’s BRILLIANT!  Kudos to YouTube’s Mrsalesguy01.  Enjoy!!!

Win, Chris

Smallbizlady Coaching with ChrisBell3rd

It’s a calm, new day and quiet optimism abounds here at ChrisBell3rd. As most of you already know, in May 2010 I was announced as a winner of the “Become Your Own Boss $25,000 Entrepreneur’s Challenge” which was sponsored by Melinda Emerson (aka Smallbizlady.)  Melinda has established a stellar reputation as a small business expert, public speaker, and as the author of an awesome book entitled “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.

One of the conditions of my being a contest winner was a requirement to blog about my experiences working with Smallbizlady.  I knew I’d gain access to her business expertise but I didn’t know that I would also be the beneficiary of her encouragement, empathy, energy, inspiration, tactful correction, generosity, and personal authenticity. I didn’t just get a business coach… I found a friend. Here are some of the things we’ve covered:

The rules: Smallbizlady set the ground rules and preferences for interaction in our upcoming coaching sessions. My challenge: ensuring my client/customer requirements don’t encroach on my pre-scheduled business coaching sessions – we’re working on it.

Financial review: I submitted my company’s quarterly financials, but my business plan and marketing plans were obsolete in 8 months as I had surpassed all my initial Year-1 objectives. Now I needed a makeover. This became a priority for complet ion as Ms. Emerson needed more detail into my company’s core competencies to ascertain paths and opportunities for growth. Truth: I was impressed and… I’m not easily impressed.

Life Plan: every legit business owner understands the necessity to complete a business plan, but Smallbizlady introduced me to the benefit of using a “life plan” as an integrated part of my business plan. Have you ever busted your butt to achieve a goal or objective in life and then find yourself asking: “Is this it?” Never again… I’m workin’ on a life plan.

The new “normal”:  I soon discovered there was nothing crazy or unusual about my life or experiences as a new entrepreneur and that I should look to model the mindset and leverage the experiences of others who’ve been successful in my moments of doubt or in times of extraordinary challenge.

Pray for me and of course… I’ll keep you up to speed as my coaching sessions with Melinda Emerson, the Smallbizlady continue to unfold. By the way, a complete chapter of  Smallbizlady’s book is being featured in 4 pages of Black Enterprise magazine this month. Check it out!

Winning with you,

-Chris Bell III

“Show Him the Money: a $25,000 Social Media Success Story”

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… are all FREE social media tools. In this article I was interviewed by Tonya Taylor  the feature writer for social media at the local Baltimore Examiner.com. During this interview I briefly shared a few tips as to how I used social media tools to launch my business, and continue to leverage them to address my clients requirements. Of course, for competitive reasons I didn’t share everything.

To access the article entitled: “Show Him the Money: a $25,000 Social Media Success Story” you can click here: http://bit.ly/cIPLAe

Win,

Chris III

10 Tips for Rookies In Technology Sales

Congratulations on making the dive into your first job in the technology sales arena!!! Whether you’re in IT, engineering, biotechnology, or telecommunications… your personal brand and reputation will be established thru your extraordinary performance because nobody remembers “average.”

Depending upon the products, services, and sales cycles, most companies will give their new sales pros at least 90-days to score a win and/or to build a viable pipeline of qualified sales opportunities. So here are a  few  tips to consider as you  immerse yourself into the financially rewarding but pressurized world of technology sales.

1. You get a new report card. As a student, your GPA validated your performance and potential. In sales, nobody cares about potential or academic pedigree. You’re now validated by your quota achievement and W-2.

2. Know your products, but don’t aspire to be an expert – you’re in sales. Instead, study the niche marketplace you’re in and learn to present a compelling business value proposition; prepare great questions in advance of meetings, and defer to the real experts to reconcile technical viability and compatibility.

3. Don’t mistake activity for progress. Your sales activity is going to be monitored, annotated, and posted for internal viewing, but in the end it’s your sales revenue achievement that will keep you employed or viable. Learn to develop high-quality sales activity.

4. Live on the base and then save or invest your commissions. Of course, you’ll be tempted to go out and buy expensive toys and splurge on luxuries your colleagues have. Treat yourself well, but strive to enjoy a lifestyle that will accelerate your run to financial independence.

5. Work in 30-day increments. You may have a quarterly or annual quota, but it’ll be difficult to maintain consistent intensity if you focus on longer periods of time. You can do anything in 30 days. Think “one-month- at-a-time” and the year will be awesome!

6. Observe the winners but be careful and selective when adopting their methods. That which you see may only be the tip of the iceberg with the mass of real content unseen, and possibly incompatible with your personal principles.

7. Optimize your commute time – make your car a lab. Listen to podcasts, motivational CDs, books on tape, and recordings of presentations to keep your edge

8. Treat your rest as seriously as you do your work. As a new sales athlete, you will expend a significant amount of emotional and physical energy to be competitive. Rest, recover, and then compete in top form.

9. Socialize with your colleagues, but remember they’re also your competitors and may use informal “down time” to size you up and probe for your weaknesses.

10. Get your boss involved early in every legitimate opportunity and leverage her experience to drive your sales process. Once she’s invested time and you win together, you increase your value.

Win,

-Chris Bell, III 

ChrisBell3rd A Winner in $25,000 Entrepreneur’s Challenge!

In celebration of her first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works (Adams Media, March 2010), Melinda Emerson is annoucning contest winners featuring a prize of weekly small-business coaching sessions. “The contest brought so many worthy applicants that I found it impossible to choose one winner,” describes Emerson.  “I narrowed it to two winners who agreed to share the one-on-one coaching.” Entrepreneurs Jennifer Furr, owner of PictureThatSound in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Chris Bell, owner of ChrisBell3rd & Company in Columbia, Maryland, will work with Emerson weekly and blog about their experiences.

In 2009, Jennifer Furr decided to leave her steady job in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue a dream – bringing a product to market that she couldn’t find in the retail world.

Furr founded PictureThatSound to fill an unmet need in the US memory-keeping market.  The company’s first product pairs a photo matte with a recordable device for sound.  Furr describes being pregnant with her second child and wanting to capture the ultrasound image with the heartbeat sound in her scrapbook album. “There are so many sounds that we take for granted, that we think we’ll always remember. Sometimes I close my eyes and picture a sound in my head, like my toddler’s giggle, my grandmother singing, or even my husband snoring. We provide a product that allows you to capture a photo and an audio snapshot of that memory, all in one.” Visit www.PictureThatSound.com. In June 2009, Chris Bell decided to use his creative business development and technology sales expertise to launch his consultancy, ChrisBell3rd & Company, LLC to exceed sales revenue objectives on behalf of executives, investors, and owners of small to mid-sized IT software and life sciences software companies. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be coached by Smallbizlady, and I am thrilled to have been chosen.  I know she will help me grow my business,” said Bell.

ChrisBell3rd & Company, LLC exercises proven best practices with the latest in Sales 2.0 technology to deliver customized business development and sales approaches that uniquely fit their client’s product-type, corporate culture, and revenue goals. His mantra is simple: “Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care – all is business is personal.”   Visit http://chrisbell3rd.com

Emerson says, “These two emerging entrepreneurs are exactly the type of dedicated small-business owners that I love to coach.  I was so touched by each of their stories of starting a business.”Jennifer and Chris will receive coaching twice a month for one year and an autographed copy of Melinda Emerson’s book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, her life planning journal, and her Audio CD: 10 Things You Must Never Forget in Business. Emerson will also coach both entrepreneurs every other week throughout the year. The winners will be required to blog twice per month about their entrepreneurial journey.

Melinda Emerson “Smallbizlady” is a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach. Her areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Melinda is a well-known expert in achieving bottom line results and has helped many entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.  Melinda hosts #Smallbizchat, a weekly talk show on Twitter for emerging business owners. Melinda publishes a blog about running a profitable small business www.succeedasyourownboss.com.  Her first book Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to Start a Business That Works” was released March 2010 from Adams Media.  For more information, please visit www.becomeyourownbossbook.com