BE Selling

April 13, 2011

Are you held accountable for a revenue or fundraising quota?  What is the main thing that makes sales and development professionals happy AND successful?

I believe the answer is that the best sales and development professionals do AND feel.  I was fortunate to get my first sales job and mentor 25 years ago.  Thanks dad.  I started generating revenue for a living in my dad’s clothing stores at age 12.  He had stores in four small Kansas towns when I was growing up.  I enjoyed connecting with and transacting with people from the first time I helped a local farmer buy “Key overalls and a Sunday suit for church“.   My dad and I would often discuss the best way to approach a customer, get to know their needs and make sure their visit to “Breckenridge’s” or “Breck’s Menswear” was fun and memorable.  Since I sold that first pair of overalls I’ve become more and more conscious of what keeps my belief and energy high in sales.  This post is my first official attempt to share what’s brought me the most professional happiness and success.

In high school my class hosted a magazine subscription sales campaign to earn money for a class trip.  Everyone was supposed to sell ten subscriptions.  I knocked on every door in town and sold 125 (or something ridiculous).   I also enlisted my siblings in a door to door campaign that landed our mom on the local school board.

When PGA Tour dreams weren’t realized, I buckled down at Kansas University for school.   I declared Journalism (Media Management, Promotion and Sales) as my path of choice.  Late in my undergrad, one of my classes gave me an actual sales territory selling radio for “90.7 The Hawk”.  I enjoyed the class and role very much.  I was able to build a relationship with the GM of the local blood donation clinic. He and I put together one of the largest media buys in the station’s history.  It was coming naturally for me.   I was in the flow.  I found the selling thrilling, but best part of the class was lecture discussions.   Aside from retail sales discussions with my dad, this was my first exposure to sales coaching.  The class was set up to get us selling and then discussing as a group was effective and what wasn’t.  It was foreshadowing for fun career chapters to come.

After KU, I entered an executive training program with part the Sprint Corporation.  I signed an agreement that said I’d take a field sales territory after 24 months of training at HQ in Kansas City.  In late 1996, I moved sight-unseen to Manhattan Beach, CA (The Beaches of Los Angeles) and assumed a SoCal territory after only eight months of training.  I was 22, had a company car and lived on the beach.  The Kansas boy had arrived.

Success in multiple field sales roles lead me to in 2001.  I signed on with them as their 23rd Account Executive to carry a quota.  I succeeded in that role for almost five years.  Except for a very challenging year selling into eastern Canada from San Francisco (in US dollars that made the price for a little known “on-demand” computing service 3x higher), I felt the flow I’d experienced before.  Being purpose driven [we were changing an industry] had my belief and energy soaring.  I closed company’s first “Enterprise Edition” sale, and helped launch and serve on multiple sales teams.  After five great years, I started to think about and share with peers the tactics that had made me successful.  I built and shared presentations that outlined the tactics AND mental approach that had made me successful.

Because my success sharing hobby was well received, I was moved into a new role helping launch’s ”Global Sales Effectiveness” team.  I got to impart my perspective on the importance of selling with curiosity, belief and energy instead of arrogance to all our new hires and sales teams around the world.   We got to:

  • Write and deliver a 5-7 day ”Bootcamp” on-boarding program that 1400 new-hires used to ramp to success quicker.
  • Build and deliver a weekly “Sharing Success” webinar that spread best practices around the globe.
  • Roll out the “Value Selling” sales methodology world-wide to 750+ customer-facing folks.
  • Design and host the first ever global sales messaging certification.
  • Develop role-based sales messaging tools for reps.  And much, much more!

I was being paid to think about how people were succeeding.

I’d been compensated for personally helping 500 plus organizations contract with, and now I was being paid to think about and educate global people and teams about what made salespeople and the customers they served successful. I found that sharing success with hundreds of peers was even more fun than serving as an individual contributor.  It allowed me to leverage my creativity and love for presenting and motivating even more.  Everything we did revolved around sharing and helping people succeed.  Though I enjoy sharing what knowledge and tactics (ACTION) were best, I was always more interested in the less tangible aspects (SOUL) of successful selling.  Though the mental aspects of selling are much harder to quantify and teach, they are likely the most important aspect of the sport.

They are the aspects that I transitioned into helping nonprofits embrace and succeed with’s platform after retiring from the sales enablement team there.  In early 2011 I joined LinkedIn to build a program that helps nonprofits utilize LinkedIn’s services.  These two “sales” roles were a perfect mix of my heart and my head…my Belief and my Energy!

I’ve spent lots of time lately thinking about what enabled my most successful sales career chapters.  A friend told me recently that the three key aspects to succeeding in sales are:  Product, Capability and Territory.  I agree with him.  All of these are critical to generating individual success, however I’d add Soul and Mental Approach to the list before considering it complete.  My soul and mental approach, product, capability and territory have all aligned during my most successful selling assignments at and LinkedIn.

My Belief (in self, product, company, customers and mission) and Energy was sky high during those periods.

Below is my first brain dump of how to succeed in sales by applying a Belief Energy (BE) approach.  I foresee future posts digging deeply into each area.

  • Belief Energy means “Confident Action”.  Your goal is to create the mental and physical approach that helps you surge and sustain belief (confidence) and energy (action).
  • A confident, vibrant, energetic and curious attitude is a key building block for success.
  • Focusing on sales mastery (mental and physical) in addition to results and recognition is key.
  • It’s important to be yourself- Authentic AND Rehearsed.
  • You must be conscious of your internal values AND others’.
  • You must be conscious of your mode of operation and your prospects’ or customers’
  • You must bring a sense of mission and purpose to work every day.  It makes your work much bigger than a job.
  • Selling successfully requires “Do” AND “Feel”.
  • Understanding the basis of your credibility or lack thereof is critical (especially when first forming relationships).
  • Be honest… always.  Every industry is small. People talk.
  • The right mix of calm curiosity and energizing evangelism generate credibility and momentum at the same time.
  • Subtle energy is a good thing to be mindful of (yours and those around you).  It’s felt as much or more than seen.

To maximize happiness and success when selling you need to consciously employ:

Soul At, I believed in myself, the company, our customers and our mission.  I knew that the more we succeeded, the more we revolutionized an industry.  Later in my career there, the more nonprofits we touched, the more social change we would enable.  In other words, I made my role much bigger than a job.  It was a mission.  I also brought my authenticity (with all its creative quirks) and a mindset of compassion to work every day.  Nonprofit cultures are typically mission driven environments.  Tapping into soul is more powerful then only tapping only into our pleasure seeking ego.  It’s also more enduring.

  • Sales and Development are a  Trust Game.  Trust is rooted in soul (especially its authenticity aspect).
  • Mindfulness can be brought to work.  It’s not just the stuff of ashrams and yoga classes.
  • Forming relationships with Soul (authenticity and compassion, in my case) inspires the best in people.
  • Honest relationships are always best…for all parties involved.  They’re also the most enduring.
  • Find purpose in what you do. Share the sense of purpose. It’s magnetic.
  • Learn and engage the soul of the people and businesses you work with.
  1. Authenticity- Sell as you, not a robot with data sheets.  Learn who you are.  Do the work.  Use the self -awareness.  Prospect with it, qualify with it, present with it, negotiate with it, support and expand with it.
  2. Compassion– Serve the prospect in order to receive.  Assume their perspective. Remember that All Is One.

Tribe- Another one of the reasons I was successful in sales at, was that I built relationships with and enlisted a long list of colleagues and successful customers into every initiative every day.  I was supported and recognized sufficiently.  I made the place my “home” mentally as well as physically.  Tribe was even more powerful in the Foundation.  We were doing and feeling in order to succeed.  We knew that our tribe’s success created more social change for the much broader tribe on the entire planet.

  • “Never win or lose alone.” – Marc Benioff.
  • Form and put to good use the power of collective unity:  Prospect, Customers, Partners, Internal team and You.
  • Being conscious of your need to form and nurture internal and external relationships is important.
  • Finding people that share your perspective or have the ability to energize or empower you is the key.
  • Keeping a professional distance from energy zappers that damped your energy is good to do to.
  1. Support– Give and request mutual recognition and mutual accountability.
  2. Home- Creating trust by creating a familial energy.  Seek a shared mission.  Understand their personal and professional “family” systems and beliefs.

Health- Another reason I succeeded was that I always maintained a curious approach.  Curiosity helped me build trust, close and expand contracts, and learn the things that I was eventually paid to share globally with my peers.  I also kept my need for surge and rest in mind at all times.  I made sure that I coupled manic periods of selling with more relaxing volunteering activities.  I made sure to couple fitness and sleep with periods of high travel and sales productivity.  Later in my career I was able to blend the two:  Taking prospects on walks around their building or campus vs. just meeting in a boardroom, or volunteering with clients and partners vs. the standard business lunch or boardroom meeting are two great examples.

  • Sustaining belief and energy requires sound and powerful physical and mental health.
  • Make learning one of your main daily to do’s.  Doing and Knowing leads to more credible sharing.
  • Healthy people more vibrant and magnetic.
  • Sickness doesn’t scale.
  1. Surge and Rest- Work hard and smart. Especially in building phase.  Don’t forget about the importance of rest, however.
  2. Curiosity- Be a student.  Crave learning.  Make this the basis of how you learn everything.  Learn everything you can about:

A.  Your company, colleagues and offerings (Your industry, position in your market, your solution offered and the value it affords a buyer).

B.  Your prospect/customer in a personal context  (communication style, learning style, personality type, risk tolerance, tenure and reputation, field of study, fears/pains, personal goals, etc).

C.  Your prospect in their organizational context (Their colleagues, their politics, past experience with your offering or industry, fears/pains, professional goals, etc.).

D.  The Client/Organization you’re serving (Their current scenario, environmental complexity,  objectives, success barriers,  desired value, decision making approach, approval/purchasing process, budget, risk tolerance, budget, etc).

Action- I started my selling career at with high energy.  My energy level boosted even more (and got more focused) as my belief surged.   I knew my role and mission and created personal goals that would enable me to achieve or exceed the goals set for me by the company.  I was a self-starter and Man of Action from day one.

  • Is a series of strategic AND role aware steps.
  • Each of these steps should have its own mutual goal and plan.
  • Mission driven motivation is much stronger and more enduring than ego or brain-based motivation.
  • Enlist the client in a shared mission as early as possible.
  • Being arrogant is very hard to sustain for the long haul.  Plus your friendships aren’t real if you’re a jerk and not genuine or honest.
  • Follow through with professional persistence.
  • Enable action for clients vs. doing it all for them.
  • You must employ smart action.  Example of smart action:  Sending an e-mail with the knowledge that it will be forwarded.  You’re writing it to the recipient, but also the person of authority they’ll forward it to.
  • Successful sales professional are constantly acquiring intelligence and the clients perspective on their differentiation.
  • The best sellers manage sales or personal interactions with the cool confidence.  Too much energy can be intimidating or off-putting.  Feel huge amount of it, but channel it properly.
  • A flurry of low value action is better than paralysis.  Quality is better than quantity, however.  The more strategic the interaction is, the more you need to slow down, pay attention.  Leverage the tribe.
  • Fewer mindful actions is almost always better than lots of generic, unconscious actions.

1.  Roles and Goals let the collective define roles and goals related to the “mission”. Be sure everyone can clearly articulate their roles and goals

A.  Roles in anything should be flexible early on, but get very clear (elevator pitch clear) over time. They should also remain flexible. We should know our role or roles as individuals, but be mindful of how our role relates to others in the tribe.

B.   The best goals are missions. They should consider all of the Core4 (not just the recognition aspects of Support typically used to reward Action. The best goals benefit the broader world. They are more interesting to me then goals that offer rewards of pleasure to a selfish few. I can summon finite, less authentic “Action” for old paradigm goals (one dimensional profit motive), but I can summon Belief Energy for goals that are more like missions. They bring more of my Soul and Compassion fuel up.

C.   Living too much in result or outcome (especially financial) goal-setting can limit the amount of Belief Energy we unleash. It’s important to be mindful of the intended result, but even more mindful of the pursuit of mastery. Living with integrity in the now is bound to carry us to outcome we genuinely want.

2.  Man of Action

A. Don’t give up (until belief and energy are gone and not coming back).

B.  Execute with tenacity and professional persistence

Assignment:  If you’re in a relationship role (especially sales or development), get conscious!  Apply how you sell to your Core4+2 or apply how you sell to mine listed above.  Put lots of ink in your journal.  I’m sure you’ll interrupt a broken pattern or create a new, more successful pattern soon if you find ways to link your daily work to a self-observant framework.


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10 Responses to BE Selling

  1. travis on April 14, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    you are a total stud. I just felt an energy boost!!!! I am psyched to be selling Zuora. Come over and help us!!!!

    • bryangbreckenridge on April 15, 2011 at 6:10 AM

      Even if work endeavors carry me in a different direction I’d like to come in and facilitate a Belief Energy session or two with you and the team, bud! See you soon.

  2. Shawn on April 14, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    BB, solid entry. I firmly agree with and believe in your 4 pillars of happiness and success in selling…I especially believe in your “Tribe”. A close knit work family and those whom you believe in and believe in you when you win OR lose is so important to working towards your mission of success.

    • bryangbreckenridge on April 15, 2011 at 6:08 AM

      Thanks for the props and support of Belief Energy. I agree, Shawn.. Winning and losing together is much better then winning or losing alone. Don’t forget to build your own Core4+2. Use mine as a guide, but the real benefit is when you create your own and start applying it to multiple aspects of your life and work. :)!

  3. Greg on April 14, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    I’m reminded by your post that for me, above everything else is purpose. What am I here to do?

    • bryangbreckenridge on April 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM

      I agree. Even if you don’t know the entire answer, it’s important to start exploring it. Even in a strictly professional context, the more you work on it the more you invite the what to appear. I remember a time that I generated a sense of purpose on a standard sales call to a flooring manufacturer in Quebec (2002, a couple years into salesforce days). Instead of ending my visit after the boardroom part of the meeting with the CEO and controller I asked if i could meet with the sales and customer support teams on the floor. They were happy to introduce me. After seeing how antiquated and painful their current homegrown system was to use (looking over the shoulders of their teams), I made it my purpose to improve the lives of their employees. My purpose shifted in that account that day. From that visit on I worked hard to save their people from shitty workdays on antiquated systems – not just sell CRM to a manufacturing company.

  4. Courtland on April 15, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Great post. I especially enjoyed your take on combining work and health. It’s all abouts ANDs!

    • bryangbreckenridge on April 17, 2011 at 5:36 AM

      Work and health are interwoven. Mindfulness of this makes a big difference for me. What do you mean by It’s all about the AND’s? I’m interested to hear your opinion it.

  5. Jon Podell on April 18, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    This is awesome stuff-and it represents all the reaons you have been successful and adored.
    Let me know when you are ready to deliver this to sales teams.

  6. bryangbreckenridge on April 18, 2011 at 3:25 AM

    I’m flattered, Jonny! I’ll be in touch for sure.

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