A Winners Edge – Competitive Intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

Win,

CB3

The Sales Janitor

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

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

The Sales Janitor

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

Sales Janitor Responsibilities

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

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

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

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

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

Rookie Tips: Systems and Politics in Sales

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

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

But here are a few problems about the problem:

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

Confession and Embarrassment

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

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

Lessons Learned

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

Win,

Chris Bell 3rd

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

Where Are The Buyers?

I recently had a flashback…

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

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

So, where are the buyers today?

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

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

-Chris Bell 3rd

Why Is The CEO in Sales?

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

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

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

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

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

-Chris

Speaker Series: 2013 Tech Sales Trends & Tips

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

Registration details are below…

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

 

Video: Calling on Technology Sales Experts!

Coming in February 2013!

Coming in February 2013!

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

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

The Obsolete Technology Sales Culture

Great, Old Players

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

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

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

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

Win,

-Chris

(Video) A Technology Sales Team Tune-Up

 

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

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

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

VIDEO – A CB3 COMPLEX SALES PROCESS MAP

WHAT DO SALES REPS AND EXECUTIVES HAVE TO SAY?

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

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

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

“Gimme Your Lunch Money!”

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

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

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

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

 

Initiating Collaboration That Matters

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

Von Wright, MBA

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

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

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain check?

-Chris Bell

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Win,

Chris Bell III

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

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

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

Win,

Chris III

Technology Sales: A CIO’s Perspective

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!

Win,

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.

Win,

Christopher Bell, III

The Law of “Retraction”

Clouds of WarIn T.D. Jakes book,  How to Reposition Yourself he uses the imagery of an archer, bow, and arrow to illustrate the fact that just before the moment of release, an arrow is pulled backward (or should I say “retracted”) and lays at rest as the bowstring is pulled taught and the bow bends under stress and tension. To further paraphrase the words of this prolific author, all of this is necessary to ensure that power and long flight are enabled upon release and that sometimes the life experiences of people are quite similar. I personally call this: The Law of Retraction.

Have you ever talked to, or met with someone you’ve known for years and walked away from the dialogue blown away by their transformation or growth from what you perceived as a point of failure or tough circumstances? How did they seem to move from “zero-to-hero”? One plausible explanation is the “Law of Retraction.”

Quite often, an exceptional achievement is preceded by a circumstance or event that forces one to move backwards and wait in a state of temporary tension and stress as change for the better takes place. For some, this holding period  is a matter of days and yet for others it could be a lifetime. While the posture is uncomfortable for all, the personal pressure of life’s demands, society’s expectations for short-term gain or relief and past recollections of previous success… may seem unbearable for the one who is in a state of retraction. The result? Compromise and the trade-off of a bigger long-term gain for small, temporary relief.

It may be wise for us to get better at discerning our position and to refrain from cursing every situation that may be holding us where we are. Examine your plans and quietly test them in preparation for a well-positioned and powerful release that will take you further, faster, and far beyond what could have ever happened without… The Law of Retraction.

Win,

~Chris