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…



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


~Chris Bell

Do You Understand Your Position?


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.


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.


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.


Chris Bell 3rd

The Pinocchio Tax – Selling After A Lying Experience


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.


~Chris Bell 3rd

“No” Doesn’t Matter

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


“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…


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


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

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)


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.


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.


Chris Bell 3rd

Entrepreneur Coaching & Mentoring


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 🙂


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.


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.


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#


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

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.


-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

National Sales Network (NSN) Event – Guest Speakers: Mark Hill & Chris Bell III

Come join members of the National Sales Network (NSN) to secure great-career changing tips from guest speakers and Mark A. Hill, and Chris Bell, III accomplished technology sales professionals as they share unique insights about the technology sales arena and how you can make a personally and professionally rewarding transition into the technology sales arena.

Amnesty in Social Networking


As usual, one day last month I was up late last night preparing my notes for the next day when I powered up my laptop and started looking at metrics associated with my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn activities and I began to feel a little uneasy.

Why? I’m certain that some of the people within my social media sphere of influence accepted my invitation to connect quickly and without much thought because it was really the “polite” thing to do and would cause no harm (at least that’s what I did sometimes.) For that, I say “thank you for not hurting my feelings” but I want to give you an “out.” Let’s call it AMNESTY for Social Networking.

Almost exactly one year ago, I became an informal student, advocate, and passionate user of social media applications and platforms. And while I LOVE my virtual social interactions I took a bit of a break from blogging and tweeting to re-establish my bearings. What was  interesting about my hiatus is that I came across a few people who weren’t able to immediately understand that I’m not really the uploaded photo image in the 2-inch x 2-inch box, and that yes… I still enjoy a good verbal conversation or an occasional exchange of written content that exceeds our 140 character twitter limit. But as I’ve grown and matured around the technology, I was finally able to secure an answer to one of my most nagging social media questions:

How can one individual authentically manage hundreds, if not thousands of  social media relationships? Answer: They don’t. There’s simply not enough time in the day to do it

So, if you’ve got lots of social media connections and only a fraction of your interactions seem relevant,  lighten up, forgive yourself, and give your connections permission to break things off by declaring an informal amnesty. Simply drop a quick note of thanks to the folks who are following you and then invite them to drop you without penalty, hard feelings, or perception of ingratitude if they don’t believe your social relationship is mutually beneficial. Let’s keep it real here shall we? I’d rather be virtually connected to 3 people who actually want to have an exchange of thoughts and share experiences than to be myopically focused on monitoring the numerical growth of hundreds or thousands of followers. I mean, what’s  the point of talking if nobody’s listening?

As I researched the viability of my perspectives, I came across this video interview affirming my perspectives featuring Seth Godin: blogger extraordinaire, author, social media guru and icon. The result? Watch this 2-minute video and tell me what you think?


Chris Bell, III

Radio Interview: Building a Career in Technical Sales

A few months ago I authored an article entitled ” 9 Tips to Transition into the Technology Sales Arena” .

If you’re new to technology sales, looking for a career change, or a soon-to-be graduating college student, take a little down-time and grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage and then listen to this radio interview facilitated by Tai Goodwin, Career Makeover Coach and expert which features me and my colleague Mark Hill, Executive Director of Minorities in Technology Sales (MiTS) as we address these questions:

  • What trends are you seeing in technical sales careers?
  • What makes technical sales careers appealing?
  • What kind of people do well in this field?
  • What skills and experience are needed to transition into a technical sales career?
  • What professional organizations are out there for people to connect with?
  • What 3 or 4 pieces of advice have helped you build your own career?
  • How can someone go about making a transition into a technical sales career?
  • Where are the most opportunities for professionals interested in growing their career?
  • What advice do you have for anyone just getting started building their career?

To listen to this informative interview, click here : http://tobtr.com/s/940148 and then…


Christopher Bell, III

Technology Sales: A CIO’s Perspective

Going Solo?

Although I do my own writing and blogging, I felt it was time to offer my readership access to diverse perspectives which may enhance their own businesses and careers. As such, I’m pleased to post my first GUEST ARTICLE: How to Succeed in the Age of Going Solo by Richard Greenwald. For those of us who are new to running a small consultancy or for those who are thinking about launching out on their own, this article offers some great tips.

Dr. Greenwald is a professor and dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University in Madison, N.J. He can be reached at reports@wsj.com


Chris Bell

The Cost of Obsolete Sales Management Tactics

All of my company’s clients are owners, investors, and sales executives in small, growing technology companies. One of the more exciting benefits of my work is that on a daily basis, I’m ushered into the presence of their genius, vision, and levels of energy that can fuel and inspire all but the dead. While personalities and corporate cultures differ, most of the executives and sales leaders I encounter share a genuine passion for the pursuit of excellence coupled with sincere care and respect for their colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, and suppliers. Just as importantly, this attitude is infectious and permeates the can-do positive disposition in their sales and marketing organizations which support the monetary lifeline for the company’s growth and survival.

However, nothing is 100%. I’ve also spoken with and met a few owners and sales executives who after being frustrated with sub-standard sales performance results, adopted a corporate culture that’s fueled by old-school fear and intimidation and it works!  (It just doesn’t work that long.) All people are drawn to that which increases them, and move away from that which they believe diminishes their value.

Do you remember when your last salesperson quit? Now add on 3 months.  A sales reps letter of resignation is generally an official belated expression of a decision they made months ago. So now you’re looking at: a limited pipeline in a barely-worked open territory, a sales forecast short on revenue, personal time you’ve got to commit for new-hire interviews, and still more time necessary to have a new rep appropriately trained and oriented in the new territory before they can generate new revenue.  Now you are in deep @#%^!!!

Lesson: old-school, macho, profane, hair-on-fire, sleazy, peddler intimidation tactics are obsolete in good technology sales organizations. Even in this climate of fiscal restraint and high unemployment, good business development specialists and sales professionals simply won�t be treated like commodities without penalty.

The net: If you’re an investor, business owner, sales executive, or even an account manager and want to know how to stop the madness while also increasing your sales revenue production, contact me to setup a brief, confidential appointment. I promise it’ll be time well-spent.


Christopher Bell, III

It’s Not Just the Money

At one point in my career, I was fortunate enough to be a member of a regional sales team where everyone had simply slaughtered their annual revenue goals. Shortly after that milestone event, our CEO came to our regional office arriving with great fanfare escorted by a small executive entourage, and a professional photographer. Our egos were so overly-inflated at the time that we naturally assumed they were there to interview us and that we’d be taking pictures with the executive team. Man, were we wrong.

After rendering his heart-felt gratitude speech,our senior executive reached into a big cardboard box and pulled out T-shirts in various sizes. On the front of each t-shirt was a huge red heart with the words emblazoned “Heart of a Winner.” He then personally handed out the t-shirts (and envelopes with $200 in cash) to eight people in the office. The recipients of the t-shirts and cash were employees who may or may not have been part of the sales organization, but had shown character, pushed thru adversity, sacrificed when it mattered, all while contributing to an overall sales team win.


  1. An office with one 45-year old male grieving because there wasn’t a competition for the t-shirts (and if there was, he was confident he’d have won it.)
  2. 135 people present in that regional office meeting whose lives were un-expectedly and positively changed forever because they saw some of their colleagues securing public appreciation for their efforts and walking around wearing $12.00  Heart of a Winner t-shirts that people wanted, but couldn’t win nor buy.


Irrespective of title, role, position, influence, or income… everyone wants to feel appreciated. You don’t have to do much, say much, or pay much to make a positive difference. Be a people builder, promote positivity, help others win, and when given an opportunity, deliberately make a point to show your appreciation and say thank you.



You’re Right. You Can’t Do What We Do!

Last weekend I was hanging out with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a few years and of course we both started talking about what we did for a living, the state of the economy, the velocity of change that’s taking place around us, politics, war, and religion. Again… this is a friend.

Well, after watching a football game in which the Ravens had clearly shown themselves to be superior to the Patriots on the gridiron (go Ravens!!!) my buddy said something that I was totally unprepared for. In a tone of condescension he said: “I could never do what you do for a living.” If thoughts were visible, mine would have looked like an M1-Abrams tank crushing the compact car of his arrogance. Still, this was a friend so I calmly asked him to explain and he said, you know, selling and asking people to spend money with you. Here’ss the politically correct version of my response:

You’re right  you can’t do what people like me do.” In fact, there are very few people in the world who do what sales athletes do, love doing what we do, and most that try to do what we do either quit or fail. Sales athletes that embrace their profession accept that:

  • What they produce may determine how others define and judge them.
  • “FAIR” is a privilege, not an entitlement.
  • They will have to handle hardcore rejection from strangers every working day.
  • They will compete in a marketplace against say-anything desperate peddlers.
  • They will fight to maintain moral integrity as others discard it for a dollar.
  • They have to commit to continuing education and ongoing training to remain credible.
  • and…even if they don’t have the best or most appealing products they still have to win.
  • They may have to live out of a suitcase every now and then.
  • What they do may impact and influence careers, families, and society.

Professional sales athletes know these things. And when we’re successful we’ll be able to earn a better-than-average living, positively contribute to society, and enjoy the quiet satisfaction of knowing that that you’re right – most people could never do what we do.



Happy New Year to our Clients and Supporters!

I started delivering outsourced�software sales services, on a retainer-plus-commission basis 5 months ago in July 2009 and after a key business win, I formally launched ChrisBell3rd & Companyin October 2009. The result was a strong business launch enabled by the support and encouragement of some great business people. To that end, I want to extend a special note of thanks and best wishes for the New Year to some of the people I collaborate with to include:

Vanessa, my awesome spouse and partner: thank you for the years of love, patience, support, and self-sacrifice. You inspire me.

Michael, Nii, and the team at TeraTech – You guys are amongst the best custom software developers on the planet! Thanks for allowing me to help drive your sales efforts.

Richard and the Discovery Communications development team if it weren’t for the recommendation you received via Twitter who knows. You guys consummated my first business agreement for my first very client, and in doing so guaranteed the successful launch of my business. I look forward to collaborating with you through 2010!

Phillip at ARINC  ours was the smoothest business I’ve ever transacted. Thank you!

Mustafa, atUntra TechnologiesThank you for introducing me to Ozgur, at BlueNet Technologies -we’re off to a great start!

Terri, at Creative Blog Solutions  – Thanks for lending your professional counsel and social media marketing expertise. You and your support team are awesome!

Mike, at SmickWorks  – dude, thanks for helping to get my website off the ground. I’ll try to keep the referrals coming!

Again, thank you and best wishes for an outstanding 2010!!!

Chris Bell

So, You’ve Missed your Quota…

10408714_10201561443197425_939785768645081334_nHundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on sales books, CDs, motivational speakers, academic degrees, and formal training courses that are designed to teach people how to compete and win in their professions. Serious sales athletes spend hours and days away from the field-of-play preparing and training to compete in an arena where their value and successes are coldly annotated, empirically evaluated, and statistically justified by “the numbers.”

So what do you do when your numbers fall just a little short or when it becomes certain you’re not going to achieve your sales quota or revenue objectives? To the best of my knowledge, there’s not a lot of literature or support for teaching sales athletes how to react when they lose but here’s a reality check: most sales athletes are NOT going to be #1 all the time. While there is no single reference that covers all circumstances, here’s a list of tips to consider:

  1. Establish 360-degree awareness. Invite your supervisor to an after-work dinner with one caveat: ask her to remove her rank and title during the dialogue – tell her you don’t need a boss, you want a coach; Talk to a respected peer and request an honest assessment of your activity and skills; Confer with your pre-sales team and ask them for tips that may help your performance. Just as importantly, take time to discern the difference between personal failure and organizational systemic failure. Where the organization’s established policies or plans are clearly deficient and complicit in your personal failure, it should weigh in your decision to stay on.
  2. Probationary Performance Plan. After missing a quota goal, this dreaded document is often positioned and presented to a sales athlete with little opportunity to debate or protest. (You’re thinking OMG!!!) But be POSITIVE and show no fear! Thank your supervisor for giving you the opportunity to redeem yourself. Calmly review it, and where the performance criteria surpasses existing standards, edit the document and initial those areas that aren’t reasonable you may be able to softly negotiate a modification.
  3. Develop a 30-day plan of attack:
  • Assess whether the performance plan is achievable or if it’s a veiled request for your resignation.
  • Take a long weekend to recover. Get a massage, get-away, relax, unwind, and work on restoring your confidence & creative juices. Reconnect with friends and loved ones who’ll affirm you without a quota.
  • Get organized at work. Hire a virtual assistant for 30-days to help get you quickly organized, setup your meetings, manage your CRM, handle travel reservations, manage administrative requirements, complete your reporting, and attend to standard, repetitive customer requests. Your focus? Closing deals.
  • Get organized at home. Anything you don’t personally have to do, don’t do. Ration your time. Pay to get your laundry done, defer home projects, ask someone else wash the car, setup your bills for auto-payment via electronic banking, etc
  • Develop a territory/account plan and activities that map precisely to your performance plan. Bear in mind that the quickest path to new revenue, is by way of previous customers and/or their referrals.
  • Make your boss an asset, not a threat. Assuming your supervisor really wants you on her team, you should add her to your most important business account engagements and activities. Get her invested in your mutual success, and make them a contributor to your comeback. Plan to provide updates and confer with them at least twice per week.
  • Work the “intangibles.” Focus on your strengths let others obsesses over weaknesses; When everyone is working – plan; When they’re sleeping – work; submit all reports early and without error; be the first on all teleconferences; tactfully broadcast small wins; practice your presentation everyday; network, and make a commitment to deliver the #1 sales activity (never be out-worked.)
  • Work 6 days a week in 30 days you’ll have delivered an extra week’s worth of additional productivity focused only on those things that generate revenue.
  • Win early… every day. Workout and eat-well and when you do, you’ll have already beat 95% of the people in America, and have more energy when you need it most.
  • ABP – Always Be Positive. There will be days when the only positive thing you’ll hear is what you’ll say to yourself. Watch your self-talk.

Please feel free to add your tips, suggestions, and wisdom to this list… there are some great sales professionals who may be depending on you!


Christopher Bell, III

Path of a Blackberry-to-IPhone Conversion

iphone-blackberry-070724Yes, I did it. I’m a recent Blackberry-to-iPhone convert. The transition has been both exhilarating and disappointing. Make no mistake. I loved using my BlackBerry and though my 30-day iPhone 3GS trial is over I do find comfort in knowing that using a BB device was a smart personal and business decision… two years ago.

So what happened? Why move from a decent wireless provider and mobile device that’s been historically reliable and transition to “The Darkside?”  While not proper, I’ll answer in the interrogatory:        “Have you actually used both a BlackBerry and an iPhone?”   

Justification for the iPhone 3GS:

  1. Cost  The day I switched to an iPhone I started saving money. While AT&T and VerizonWireless devices and calling plans are pretty similar on paper, the additional fees necessary to make the VerizonWireless Blackberry compatible for my business use weren’t tolerable. For instance, Blackberry Exchange Server (BES) support thru a 3rd-party provider was an additional $38 per month, and VerizonWireless charged $60 per month fee for accessing the RIM service. With my iPhone, Exchange Server support is $3.00 per month, and I now pay a $30 per month AT&T data access fee.
  2. Rollover minutes  From month to month, I never used all of the allotted minutes in my VerizonWireless calling plan and any unused minutes were credited back to my carrier… not too me.
  3. Poor In-store customer service  after enduring 8 years of VerizonWireless in-store attitudes of arrogance and long lines, I broke beneath the torture I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had a business account and yet, no one treated me as if I’m running a business! I’m spending almost $200 a month (or approximately $20,000 over the last 8 years.) Moreover, my individual lifetime value as a VerizonWireless customer exceeded $120,000 and should I add on other employees or family members who use the same services. I’m a $1M customer!!! (No wonderthere are so many mobile phone vendor booths setup at the mall.)
  4. Applications  For months I’ve sat in airports, trains, seminars, and in social gatherings watching people move their fingers across the face of their iPhone devices and I became curious: What the heck can an iPhone do that I can’t do with my BB device?  So I asked a business colleague to give me a personal demo and he chuckled and asked “are you sure you can handle it?”  (I hate sarcasm) but after the 15-minutes zipping thru his iPhone apps and basic device functionality, I was blown away. The phone worked as expected, but it was the easy-to-read screen, logical layout, and several cool apps for just about anything you can imagine that made a big impression. In the end, I came away from the encounter feeling uncomfortable. Why? I had just experienced a demo that upset my sense of intellectual confidence and knowledge. Certainly, I couldn’t have been wrong about paying so much for so long for my Blackberry when other less-expensive and functionally better options were available?  (Answer: Yes, dumb-a@# you’d blown it.) Today, I’m soooo pleased with my transition I can barely stand it. But remember, where there’s green grass… there’s dirt underneath.

Warnings & Trade-offs in the Transition

  1. You will miss your trackball and the feel of the BB keys and buttons. Entering characters into the iPhone will initially be much slower and take some getting used to. Just as importantly, I became so comfortable with my BB keypad that I could text or write emails without looking at the screen. Those days are over with the iPhone 3GS virtual keyboard.
  2. 3G Network – The VerizonWireless commercial pertaining to the size of their 3G Network is true. However, with my previous service I wasnt able to receive or make calls from my basement home-office. So far, my AT&T iPhone 3G reception at in my basement office is awesome and my calls are clear everywhere Ive been. However, I’m quite certain that there may be some local Washington DC-Baltimore metro locations where the service won’t be great and I must admit I have some anxiety about finding out where there when I need to make or receive an important call.)
  3. iPhone Durability  –These devices aren’t built ruggedly and one cannot buy an insurance plan for the iPhone device that covers damage to the large screen. So, the 1st thing you’ll want to do is to purchase a screen protector AND a protective case/sleeve to insulate your device from the inevitable drop. This issue alone was almost a show-stopper for me.
  4. Battery Life  My Blackberry sipped power for all-day usage and if I was remote to power, I’d simply drop in a pre-charged spare battery. The iPhone battery can’t be swapped out, and my iPhone 3GS guzzles battery power. In fact, I took it into the Apple Store to have it examined and the tech rep said “this is normal use sir.” It seems the biggest battery resource hog is the large LCD touch screen. The iPhone specs state 10 hours of battery usage, but my experience has been it lasts about 7 depending upon talk-time. So it may be wise to keep your charger close-by, or as a precaution when driving, get in the habit of keeping it plugged in to the car charger (accessory) to ensure it’ll be available when you need it.

In the end, whatever your choice, both the BlackBerry and iPhone 3GS will probably address most business needs and with the introduction of other devices (like the Droid) you’re certain to have your basic wireless mobile device and service requirements addressed. Inevitably we all struggle to find the facts that support our emotional buying decisions… it’s just that I admit it. 🙂

Your comments and questions are welcome!

-Christopher Bell, III

Because, The Customer Isn’t Always Right

SSI0009639_PThere isn’t one successful professional salesperson or business development specialist who hasn’t found themselves at the moral crossroads of having to make a decision to be silent, or to speak the truth to a business decision-maker and possibly put a deal at risk. The safest position in these cases has been to adhere to the code: “The customer is always right.”

The fact is, most buyers and sellers know the truth: sometimes customers do get it wrong, it’s just their being wrong may not necessitate comment and the prospect of them spending their money with you (or someone else) makes them “right.” If you’re a sales or business development professional and you feel conflicted in this scenario, congratulations! Your conscience and moral foundation are in fine operating condition.  Sometimes moral standards and financial issues do come into conflict.

The Customer is Always Right is a powerful lie. What’s interesting is that over the years after hearing this same statement repeated over and over again from the mouths of intelligent, well-meaning business owners and executives, we should be impressed with the longevity and power of this falsehood. Why? Because ironically, there’sa contradictory but viable measure of wisdom that professional sales andbusiness development specialists understand:

  • Customers have a right to be wrong. Be quiet and let them be wrong UNLESS the consequences would cause harm or injury.
  • You’re not in the “Business Prevention” business and you probably don’t work for a non-profit organization. You’re in sales.
  • When doing the morally right thing means it’s the wrong for your client OR your employer’s business… surrender the business opportunity – don’t do the deal and/or pass it on to a supervisor. There’s power in a clean conscience, and prosperity without peace-of-mind… is hell on earth.


Christopher Bell, III

5 Appetizers for the Whiners in Sales

Assorted appetizersThis week I was invited to meet with a small gathering of so-called sales and business development professionals at a local Maryland bar and grill.  I attended the event hoping to get a lift and a laugh by listening to exaggerated stories of success, big deals being closed, and the conflict of deciding the next vacation destination (Maui or Bali?) Instead, what I stumbled into were two dull, disillusioned, whiners, and adult cry-babies with six-figure incomes and attitudes of entitlement so large they should have their own zip code who were clearly affecting the larger group’s attitude.

To keep the peace (and my sanity) I muted my thoughts until the persistence of a few to “share your perspective” overcame my ability to resist. I’m not sure I’ll be invited back, but these are the 5 verbal appetizers I served up before the main course was served:

  1. One of the few things you can control in life is your attitude. If you can�t get this right you�re in the wrong profession and a quota is the least of your worries.
  2. You don’t have a right to be successful, and SECURITY is an illusion – anything you have can be taken or lost in an instant. Be grateful and act like it.
  3. No” is one word, two letters, and has one syllable so don’t make it more than what it is. Learn to manage rejection, as it eliminates amateurs and most of the average competitors in our profession.
  4. We’re not paid well because our clients say “yes.”  We’re paid well to handle more rejection (than most people can) until we can get to “yes.”
  5. If you’re encountering potential clients with big problems, celebrate!!! Then continue to make it your mission to look for trouble. Your total compensation will be in proportion to the size or seriousness of the problems you can solve for others. Big problems and pain = big income opportunities.

Bon appetit, 🙂

Christopher Bell, III

Outsourced Sales Professionals (OSPs) – A Competitive Advantage?

iStock_000005540740XSmallWhat recession? In the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, my recent (though brief) experience is that the volume of high-quality business development and technology sales opportunities exceeds the number of Outsourced Sales Professionals (OSPs) that are available to service those companies and opportunities. For OSPs with a solid-value proposition and a track record for performance, business is really good right now. Why?

In times of fiscal constraint, companies are always seeking ways to increase productivity and sales revenue while concurrently reducing their costs. A recent BusinessWeek blog post entitled “A New Wrinkle on Outsourcing” provides an interesting perspective on the use of Outsourced Sales Professionls (OSPs) in technology sales. Here’s the net: Executives and managers in the technology space are beginning to get it – OSPs can bring a level of consistency and best practices to the job that’s difficult to achieve with an in-house sales staff.

If you’re a sales executive or business owner it’s probably time to look into leveraging OSPs – your competition certainly is.

Video Survey: Acceptance & Confusion – Cloud Computing

iStock_000007251582XSmallThe volume on the cloud computing dialogue is getting turned up, but clarity around the cloud computing definition still strike chords of minor disonance amongst technology providers and potential customers – even though cloud computing enjoys broad acceptance. This 3.5 minute Applied Research Video Survey was sponsored by F5 and features survey results that are fairly insightful. Of course the end of the video includes a soft pitch to use F5 services, but that’s fair a trade-off for good information.

High-Tech for High-Touch


With the exponential proliferation and use of high-tech social media marketing tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, sales executives are now racing to develop and implement comprehensive, strategic business development plans for their sales teams that are relevant, realistic, and tactically results-oriented. The new buzz-word of the day for the integration of social media capabilities with sales is “Sales 2.0” (Have we really been using version 1.0 since the Stone Age?)

Anyway, it’s clear the old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” presents itself as a unique challenge when a sales force begins to adopt and leverage social media tools to research, prospect, qualify, and drive their sales opportunities to closure. So where does one begin? Answer: With the end in mind.

In order to ensure that the time allotted to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn during business hours isn’t going to be misappropriated, a company’s business development and sales personnel should be expected to adhere to internal social media policies and to follow a marketing strategy that can connect to old-school metrics – the number of meetings or relevant encounters that were attained.  One of most difficult things to witness in a sales organization is the adoption of high-tech tools and methodologies without them being coupled to robust, systemic, high-touch follow-up. It’s akin to watching a modern-day Greek tragedy where the Achilles heel of a great entity is that it behaves as if virtual interactions and real world encounters are one in the same. Reality check: clients are not the .jpg image in that little box, and they don’t communicate in 140 characters or less in real life.

Now the obvious question is: when are Web 2.0 technologies coupled with social media capabilities successful without a high-touch component? Usually when the sales model is high volume and transactional in nature (typicallyanchored by a low cost, commoditized product or service.)However, if there is a complex buying process and the objective is to establish long-term collaborative relationships that result in large transactions, there’s simply no substitute for being able to shake a hand, read body language, have a conversation, and sit across from a client eyeball-to-eyeball, knee cap-to-knee cap to accelerate the speed of trust.

The awesome part about this sales era, is that we have a buffet of options and really great tools available to us as business development sales professionals. High-tech, for high-touch? Perhaps.

No Heroics, Just Limited Choices

At some point in time, a life event will affect you personally and by default professionally count on it.  However, I see nothing heroic or virtuous about being diagnosed with cancer, recovering from surgery, and working to regain ones physical health. For me the effort was self-centered and I personally had no choice as no-decision would have been a painfully slow terminal decision. Reality check: the extraordinary person was my wife. She was the one who had to work a demanding and stressful full-time job while also attending to my physical care. Is it relates to another event: there’s nothing heroic about pushing thru the unexpected death of a loved one that’s what we’re supposed to do. But watching the people you love grieve thru loss and supporting them thru their grief in some ways is worse than cancer. Surgery can cure a disease but how do you cure a broken heart? It’s a callous cliche but it’s true: Life goes on and people cope in their own way. Last but not least… yes, it kinda sucked to be unexpectedly terminated asan employee less than 90 days after returning to work after recovering from cancer surgery but so what? Millions of Americans can tell a similar story and mine is just one of them.

The unexpected benefit of dealing with major life events which converged in a 6-month period is that it forced the exercise of faith, patience, and planning which also brought clarity to logical next-steps. There’s power in the wake of pain. ChrisBell3rd & Company actually launched as a low risk, high benefit endeavor(what’s to lose?) I played it safe and had one (admittedly awesome client) paying me consistently for a period of months BEFORE substantively investing my time, seeking the advice of a mentor, and leveraging my talents to begin planning for business growth. When small, incremental success becomes evident, and one has the support of a community that’s willing to pay for your services, it provides a glimpse into the future of potential possibilities. Who then, wouldn’t strive to better leverage the situation? The net: there’s nothing heroic about my professional transition though I certainly wish the path had been peronally less painful.

Thanks for the Acknowledgements!

Many thanks for numerous shout-outs and congratulatory thanks from previous customers, old and new friends, business associates (and even a few competitors) in recognition of the inaugural launch of ChrisBell3rd & Company a few days ago. The response to our launch has FAR EXCEEDED our expectations and we look forward to helping small software companies achieve and exceed their software sales revenue goals.

We’ll see you at the top!

– Chris Bell

9 Tips to Transition into the Technical Sales Arena

A few months ago I attended the GrowSmallBiz conference hosted by Network Solutions in Washington, DC and during one of the breaks I was speaking to a polished, intelligent, articulate, and enthusiastic professional who had years of experience selling copier products, but wanted to know how to break into the technology sales and business development field. What’s coincidental is that it was the second time in the last few weeks I’ve been asked the very same question, so I thought I’d offer a few tips for competent professionals who are honestly interested in pursuing this kind of career change:

1. Avoid going in thru 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. If you can’t connect with a real decision-maker to whom you would personally present your value, then you’re not ready for a technology sales career transition.

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 them on social media networks. There is a strong connection that can be developed by discussing the highlights of another person’s interests.

3. Do your homework. Study – a lot. Go to the library and read the trade periodicals to become familiar with the general language and buzz words of the field you’re interested in. Download white papers and brochures.

4. Follow a few companies you’d really want to work with. 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 or business influencer, 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 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 word-for-word so that by the time you get a face-to-face meeting, the person you’re meeting already sees you as fellow colleague or employee.

8. Success in sales is about your track record. Be prepared to be your own best advocate and articulate where have you won before in life and your career, who helped you get there, and what it took for you to become #1? Ask them “If you were in my shoes, what ‘s your next best step?” Personally hand them your resume and references and then ask them for their sponsorship.

9. On employee skills testing – there will never be, and there has never been a test that can prove the heart of winner – Art Williams.

There are lots of career-changers out there who could use your help. Are there any tips you might add?

When Sales Performance Isn’t Enough – A sales reps view.

If you’re a sales manager or executive managing a sales team, you may have hired people on your team you’ve worked with before or have had a previous personal connection with. That’s great unless sales performance becomes secondary to the personal relationships you’ve established. Here’s a question that was recently posted by a sales professional in one of myLinkedin Groups, and my accompanying response. What would your counsel be if you were an external advisor to this rep?

“What to do when you are getting zero love from your boss? If you are a sales rep doing your job hitting your numbers and you feel that your boss plays favor to other reps he knows on a personal level, has short handed you on territory what would you do?

“This is an excellent question… thanks for posting it. Here are 3 cold realities and remedies you may want to give some thought”:

  1. Maintain focus on your purpose. Your boss is your boss. He’s not a chaplain, parent, or little league football coach. You’re in the profession for the compensation and collateral benefit of helping customers get what they want. Be lead by your purpose.
  2. Sometimes sales production isn’t enough. Do what we do long enough, and you’ll run across a bad manager count on it. If you can’t gain favor with your own boss, confidentially contact his supervisor by telephone (no email trail), compliment her on the manner in which she manages important matters in her organization, and ask her if she’d be amenable to mentoring you now and then as you view her as a professional role model. Most likely the response will be positive and you�ll get some measure of protection and visibility from the top, as well as indirect influence over your boss as your mentor will hold him accountable to take good care of you. Be assured, your boss will loathe your new relationship, but you’ve changed the game and put in place an access point of accountability to help protect and ensure the visibility of a consistent track record of sales performance.
  3. Give up on “fair” in the sales profession. The principle of fairness in the sales profession should stay in the archives and sandbox of childhood memories. Sometimes ones performance won’t be enough to gain favor- it’s just not fair; your quota will rise and your territory will be cut – it’s not fair; If your boss has established relationships that manifest in overt favoritism, that isn’t going to change. But you can.

End of a Sales Era?

I was recently sitting in my basement home office, and took a quick glance at a bookshelf containing over one hundred plus sales-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 books is probably obsolete today.

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 on sales 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 theyll 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. It’s a new game ya’ll.

Why? Frankly, potential buyers have been pissed off 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. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent teaching sales people how to close deals (versus helping to build careers) and many traditional sales tactics and strategies are adversarial and 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 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 and it’s about time.