Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
July 22, 2017

#517. Sales Secrets and Hiring Hints for Startup Success. With Pat Helmers.

Pat Helmers, author of the Selling with Confidence sales system, and host of the Sales Babble podcast, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:25] Pat says the biggest challenge facing sales reps is trying to differentiate themselves from all the noise on the internet. To start, build a relationship with your prospects. Go where they are. Find their itch before you pitch.

[2:48] Serve before you sell. Have two attitudes: I’m here to help, and, I’m here to add value. Don’t be afraid to ask service  questions. “What can I do to help you?” This can be a learned behavior. Non-sellers can become sellers.

[5:48] Pat works mainly with software startup companies. A lot of them are scratching their own itch with a product, and haven’t learned where else it is needed, or how to frame it for their prospective market. Pat explains the path to growth.

[8:33] Startup founders should not hire a salesperson first. They need to be their number one salesperson. Just as they pitch to VC and private equity, they can pitch to prospects. The best way to understand the product is to sell it to real people.

[10:20] The founders have to know how to sell it. A good start is to go to LinkedIn for prospective clients. Don’t hire a marketing department before you have a market. Creating relationships will never be automated.

[11:38] Founders, when they decide to hire, often hire the flashy hunter, because they are not hunters themselves. Instead, create filters, in the form of assessments and tests. Pat gives an example of a sales post, and his hiring process.

[16:02] Pat explains his hiring process. It includes giving a a software demo as a 15-minute presentation phone call, with himself as the customer. If the candidate shows the base set of skills, Pat will work with them.

[18:15] Hiring is risk management. Seth Godin asks people to intern for him for free. Who wouldn’t intern with Seth Godin? Pat’s filtering process is the next best thing for finding talent.

[18:44] At about the fifth step, Pat walks through their resume for hours with them, line by line, to see how genuine they are. Pat doesn’t bring a candidate in for lunch unless he’s 90% sure.

[20:26] Andy cites Jason Dana’s NYT article about job interviews, saying that looking at the resume gives a more accurate prediction of job success than the interview does. By the end of Pat’s filtering process, he has a successful hire.

[23:17] Certain cliche words on a resume screen out candidates when Andy hires. Many B2B companies are still advertising for extroverts and closers. That is not a good fit for B2B. Asking for the sale should be the natural meeting ending.

[27:21] Customers don’t want to spend excessive time deciding. They want to make a good decision. Most are satisficers. As a company grows, founders can’t make every decision. They become leaders and leave decisions to others.

July 21, 2017

#516. Do Sales Quotas Lose Meaning if Too Few Meet Them? With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.


[:57] Bridget is now Captain Fantastic!

[3:10] The topic is quota. Comparatively few individual sales contributors make quota. 40% – 80% do not. Quota may not be relevant. Raising quota 30% arbitrarily is not scientific. Bridget believes goals are important, and quotas are goals.

[8:16] The disconnect between the percentage not making quota, and the quotas themselves, needs to be addressed. Salespeople need to be in positions to experience success. The experience motivates them to further successes.

[9:26] The current effect is that sales managers are disenfranchising large portions of their teams. If the middle 60% have a good experience, they will want to improve. Bridget’s boss said all reps need to make quota this quarter.

[11:36] If the company needs to grow 30%, that doesn’t mean quota needs to go up 30%. If quota goes up 10%, more will contribute to the success, and you may reach the 30% growth. Quotas are often set to be difficult by pressure from the CEO.

[15:50] Andy coached one company with a great sales team. The CEO always put together goals mid-year, based on how the team was doing. The quotas were manageable, and there was trust. Another company set expectations, but not quotas.

[18:30] The company that set clear expectations grew rapidly. Trust was a key aspect of that growth. Some environments, like Silicon Valley, are very conducive to sales. Compensation should be in alignment with the effort to get the deal done.

[20:26] Startup companies, at certain stages of development, might not pay a commission, but may compensate all the team working on the deal. That is most of the staff pulling together, not one salesperson. There is so much learning at a startup.

[21:45] In SDR teams there is a lot of job-hopping, but sticking with it can be rewarding. It is disservice to self to avoid all the tough times. Take a lesson from the struggle.

[23:01] Managers should look beyond the quota, or be more pragmatic about how to establish quota, and what it means. Are they doing all they can to get more people to meet quota?

[24:27] Are there ways to set goals without setting quotas? Andy invites feedback on this question. Please send it to Or send your drawing for a female superhero figure of Captain Fantastic to the same address!

July 20, 2017

#515. Let AI Nudge You into Sales Relationships. With Paul Teshima.

Paul Teshima, Co-Founder and CEO of, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:28] Paul says the biggest challenge facing sales reps is that buyers know more than ever, so a rep cannot add value just by holding information about their product or service.

[2:19] Paul gives an overview of Nudge. It is an AI platform that focuses on understanding the insights around relationships, and how those relationships can help you get into an account, or influence an account, for the buying process.

[4:41] The version of AI — that follows — is to tackle problems that are repetitive, take some thought, and are behind-the-scenes. Paul gives an example. There is a lot of promise for this ‘grunt work’ type of AI.

[5:38] AI does more than analyze of Big Data. AI applies machine learning for continual improvement of the analysis process around the data. Paul explains by example, how topic modeling is used for Google Alerts.

[10:09] Relationships are being sacrificed to the sales stack. Paul talks about freeing up research time by moving research from the rep to AI. This gives reps time to build relationships, and focus on effectiveness while the ai works on efficiency.

[11:51] The more a role is process-oriented, such as SDR calling for appointments, the more AI can help ‘B’ players become ‘A’ players. In field sales, where the process varies, AI is less applicable for improving individual performance.

[13:35] The personal interaction is what makes ‘A’ players. AI can free up reps to get more training, and more customer time, which is how they may improve their performance.

[14:28] Sales automation tends to enforce conformity. Reps need more freedom to interact to fit the customer, and according to their own strengths. Paul sees deal sizes shrinking, which leads to less interaction and more process.

[17:00] SaaS allows for fast global reach. Startups are looking more toward the Enterprise, earlier, and Enterprise is more likely to look to a startup. Paul discusses changes in the sales force and strategies as the digital generation matures.

[22:00] Paul differentiates between insights that are actionable for an SDR, and information overload that goes over the top.  SDRs are not industry experts, and don’t need deep insights.

[23:27] Technology, tech, and sales stacks are not getting the sales force closer to quota. All the tech just helps you keep level, even with best practices. The competition is dense.

[27:17] A nudge is a push giving momentum. Sales is about restarting or maintaining momentum. Nudges keep you top-of-mind with prospects during low periods. AI suggests which prospects you should nudge today.

July 19, 2017

#514. BAM! Pow! The One-Two Punch of Knockout Prospectors. With Tony Hughes.

Tony Hughes, Founder and Managing Director of RSVP Selling, blogger, and author of a couple of books, including The Joshua Principle, and his latest book, Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:59] Tony says the biggest challenge facing sales reps is breaking through to the people they need to engage, to help them. Buyers are bombarded with email and lots of noise.

[2:48] Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales, is enthusiastic and energetic. Tony addresses why he wrote it at this time. Insufficient pipeline is a symptom that people don’t have the right mindset.

[4:24] Tony thought there were some aspects missing from prospecting, that he wanted to include in his book. One is to use the phone again as a social selling channel. The point is to create a human engagement with people. Social is one part.

[7:04] Sales is hard, but Andy doesn’t find it harder than pre-internet days. Cold calling is not dead, but it is difficult. Tony recalls the gatekeepers; now voicemail is the gatekeeper. It is a shock to get through to a live person.

[12:01] Sellers have become passive, quiet, fearful, and lazy. It is easier to look on LinkedIn than make a call. Tony gives a couple of company case examples. No phones on the sales floor! All in on social! Tony says the phones came back!

[14:31] Tony says it takes a multi-threaded strategy with the right combination. He suggests Sales Navigator to identify the powerbase of an organization — all the influencers that would matter. Message with value by phone, cell, email, and text.

[19:26] Tony explains the Law of Principal Disinterest. Don’t be desperate, especially about the prospects you already have. If you come across as overeager, you push people away. Look for people you can help with a really good fit.

[21:50] 3-5X coverage of your pipeline is needed. Tony gives some ideas how to get there. First, know your ICP. Do win reviews, not loss reviews. Ask the client what trigger caused them to go down the path that ended with a buying decision.

[23:45] “Selling is not about me or my success. It’s about my customer and my commitment to helping them achieve a far better state of affairs in their business and their personal life.” — Tony Hughes

[24:23] Conversion rates of pipelines are dropping, and deal size is getting smaller as well. Tony says the way we open is far more important than the way we close. Anchor the business case up front.

[28:22] Tony talks about failure to reach quota. Some quotas are too high. Assess the territory and the prospects, to set quotas. Don’t raise it by a percentage. Watch out for expense management, which is a scheme to limit commissions.

[31:52] Revenue is the metric that matters. We need to recognize the long-term value of the client. The way people are buying has changed. We need clients to be market advocates for us, as well.

July 18, 2017

#513. Curiosity Might Have Killed the Cat. But, a Lack of Curiosity Definitely Kills the Sale. With Babette Ten Haken.

Babette Ten Haken, Founder and President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:26] Babette thinks the biggest challenge sales reps face is that they don’t take the time to discover fully the context of the issue, and so they may propose inappropriate solutions.

[2:33] Curiosity is the hallmark of any discovery process. Data leads to assumptions. Reps need to discover what is relevant, out of all the prior information they receive about a prospect.

[3:34] Andy cites Jill Konrath on ‘overwhelm.’ Information overload may suppress asking good questions. Far too many reps end up convincing themselves, but not the buyers.

[5:06] Playbooks define the process too much. The art of selling is based in discipline. Babette compares it to opera. Interpretation is added by the artist. Being curious creates an organic conversation that cannot be scripted.

[7:04] Technology provides much information to help ‘B’ and ‘C’ players, but ‘A’ players take artistic chances that can’t be quantified. Reps need to feel empowered to act. ‘A’ players ask hard questions that help customers make hard calls.

[10:06] A seller should master relentless curiosity, researching the industry and subject matter deeply, to become expert, and should be ready to ask great, sometimes spontaneous, questions to uncover the customer’s needs.

[11:16] A rep should not be satisfied with only the information their company provides. They should hold informed opinions from their own research. They may find their product needs updating for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

[13:15] “The moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” — Jonas Salk. Babette says sales reps stop the process when they think they’ve discovered the question. There’s a question behind the question. What is the context?

[15:10] Never be satisfied. Don’t stop selling before you have the correct solution for the customer. Discovery is needed all during the sales process. It’s like archeology. Keep digging.

[19:16] Reps are feeling pushed to have their deals go through the pipeline at a certain velocity. ‘A’ players step outside the process. ‘B’ players should take a risk to be more curious and try to find out the questions behind the questions.

[23:01] The line is thin between ‘A’ and ‘B’ players. The answer is not for ‘B’ players to copy ‘A’ players, but to take the best practices of ‘A’ players, and apply them to the best version of themselves. Everyone is not the same. Babette explains more.

[26:23] Reps need to be strategic. Managers need to allow sales engineers to go with ‘B’ and ‘C’ players, after the proper discovery is made for a proposal. Babette ends with encouragement to keep the fun in selling, through curiosity.

July 17, 2017

#512. 10X Your Effectiveness with Engaged Leadership. With Stephen Moulton.

Stephen Moulton, President of Action Insight, and author of The CEO’s Advantage: 7 Keys for Hiring Extraordinary Leaders, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:25] Stephen says constant pressure from managers puts sales reps in a panic, which makes them ineffective.

Pressure has always been there, but a slump can put them under extreme pressure. Then they enter fight-or-flight mode.

[4:00] When people have a positive outlook at work, they are 31% more productive. If they interact positively with their team, they are 10X more effective than people who are neutral or disengaged. Leaders affect engagement.

[5:58] Individuals need a supportive environment to be more productive. Managers needs to know their people, build trust, and develop a team ethos to build up each member.

[8:50] Senior management focuses on numbers. Direct managers need to be leaders and put coaching, training, and leadership development of their staff first, before numbers.

[10:41] Managers manage things, leaders lead people. In reality, managers fill both roles. They need to spend more time inspiring and helping their people than working the numbers.

[11:25] Focusing on numbers and the mechanics does not produce the kinds of sales experiences that customers want, that will grow business. Managers need to coach their people.

[12:25] Onboarding should include leadership training. Many companies don’t want to invest the time. Stephen tells of a past manager who discouraged his successful behavior.

[15:02] Managers may get uncomfortable when their people perform in ways outside the process. Instead, they could support the individual skills and strengths people have, and leverage these strengths for achievement.

[16:29] Effective selling inspires customers to go on a buying journey with the rep. People want to be motivated. Reps want to be motivated to be leaders.

[17:19] Emotional intelligence can be learned, if the person has motivation. It is a set of competencies. Stephen gives an example of how he would teach a behavior within an area of EQ competency.

[22:11] Leaders need to lead by example, not by control, but by modeling the standard of expectations. Stephen asks his team to call him out if he falls below his standard. Leaders need to be open to feedback.

[26:49] Hiring is challenging. 95% of biases are unconscious. Have a structured process to measure specific required competencies and behaviors. Test to get information, then evaluate afterward. Stephen’s system has over 90% reliability.


July 16, 2017

#511. Accelerate! Expresso: Weekly Highlights Show for July 10-July 15

Accelerate! Expresso is a weekly round-up show that contains highlights from each conversation from the previous week’s slate of guests on Accelerate!

These snippets have been edited into a tight, short show that will give you a taste of the insights you missed if you didn’t catch every episode of Accelerate! last week.

In this episode, you’ll hear excerpts from my conversations with my guests during the week of July 10 – July 15. That’s episodes 505-510.

Listen in as I was joined by the following experts: Scott Ingram, Joe Gianni, Mitch Morando and Dan Negroni. As always, Bridget Gleason was my partner on Front Line Friday.

Take a quick listen now. Then go back and listen to an entire episode with your favorite guest.

July 15, 2017

#510. Coaching Digital Natives to Make Human Connections. With Dan Negroni.

Dan Negroni, Founder and CEO of Launchbox, and author of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace, joins me on this episode of #Acceler


[1:28] Dan sees the single biggest challenge facing millennials, including millennial salespeople as being bombarded with too much opportunity. They need to find the path that works best at that moment for who they are.

[3:08] Dan suggests the process is to figure out who they are, and then to articulate it. The best behavior for them is to ask themselves questions to become more self-aware about their strengths and values.

[4:14] Andy cites Dan’s article on coaching Millennials. Challenge Millennials with great questions to help them think deeply about showing up, and being present, real, and authentic. How am I going to serve?

[5:33] Dan describes authenticity as Millennials see it —  Something real, with no other intended consequences other than helping them, connecting them, or delivering to them. Someone genuine, with real integrity — a mensch.

[7:14] Andy cites The Complacent Class, that says society and our economy are becoming less dynamic, blaming it on technology that keeps us in comfort zones, and not exploring. Dan sees more positives in future tech, connecting humanity.

[10:48] Human-to-human connections are the most important. Dan agrees tech is numbing Millennials to human connections, but when they are taught to focus on others, they are eager to connect. Schools are not teaching them to connect.

[12:29] The Launchbox Inside-out technique connects the dots, starting with the dot inside, using Strengthsfinder assessment; then teaches them about their skills, values, and passions, all focused on others, their brand, and connecting by stories.

[14:02] Employers of Millennials need to provide four things: the ability to learn and grow, authenticity, feedback and communication, and a purposeful, transparent workplace environment. Millennials need to articulate, this, and create it.

[16:54] Data is part of the comfort zone. It is not personal. Feedback involves goals, ambitions, and how to achieve them. Some VPs are removing one-on-ones from the equation. Dan notes statistics on employee disengagement, based on that.

[19:09] Andy cites The Boomerang Principle, about people coming back to the company, and referring customers. Millennials want to work for companies from which they would be customers.

[20:44] Many Millennials think they have the right skills to be a leader. The gap between their ideals and skills is where to coach. They need to be responsible to grow. They need self-awareness. Mixing generations is where magic occurs.

[24:47] Sales Technology enforces conformity. People need freedom to find their way. Sales managers need to coach to individuals’ strengths. Dan cites a Harvard 75-year study.

July 14, 2017

#509. The Key Character Traits of Successful Sales Reps. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.


[2:59] The topic is character traits for long-term sales success. Andy ranks curiosity first. At a certain point, people tend to get complacent. It is important to continue learning about your product, customers, decision making, and self-improvement.

[5:44] Andy suggests continuing to learn through reading, and  listening to podcasts. People who maintain freshness of curiosity have a long, successful career. Bridget enjoys the requirement to keep learning. Sales keeps changing.

[6:49] When you stop learning, you get bored. Everything looks the same. Continue to reevaluate what’s going on, and see the changes. Bridget used to tell her sons that boredom is an internal problem only they can solve. Look for ways to expand.

[9:14] Successful salespeople are motivated more by the challenge than by money. Meet the challenge, and the money will follow. Bridget says salespeople are not coin-operated. Bridget loves the challenge. Making money is the game.

[11:06] Sales managers used to push reps to buy a new car, for  motivation to make money for the car payments. Bridget recalls a similar experience, and contrasts it to a recent interview. She prefers not to add money stress to sales stress.

[14:23] Andy’s manager once asked him to get rid of his 13-year-old car, so he sold it to someone in the office. His manager didn’t speak to him for a week. Bridget appreciates pushback and feedback from her reps. She learns from it.

[15:33] A manager does not have Papal infallibility. Managers need to learn constantly. Bridget explains the Catholic reference.

[16:39] Resilience is a trait for success. Sales goes up and down. Some months are better than others. You need stamina to face the hard times, and humility to recognize the good times are high points. Bridget’s VP role has highs and lows.

[19:05] Humility is a partner to resilience. There are points in your life when the job wins. “The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.” — Paul Tillich

[20:12] Understanding the ambiguity of successes and failures will keep you on a level field. Many claim their successes, but blame failure on others. “…victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan…” — John F. Kennedy. Don’t take failure too hard.

[21:12] Managers should teach that selling is really a team sport. Stephen Kerr of the Golden State Warriors builds team culture  through compassion, mindfulness, competition, and joy. Bridget relates team culture to her own team in Boston.

[25:41] Managers should focus more on people than on their metrics. Bridget stresses the human element. People are not tools.

[27:40] Future episode topic: AI, machine learning, chatbots, and how to preserve the humanity in sales. You need a person to talk to a person.

July 13, 2017

#508. How to Modernize Your Customer’s Sales Experience. With Daniel Rodriguez.

Daniel Rodriguez, VP of Marketing at Seismic Software, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[:44] Daniel says many organizations have up-to-date marketing, and 2017 websites, but offer a 1997 customer sales experience. Sales reps take outdated decks (that aren’t even customized for this customer) to their intro meetings.

[3:07] Reps put themselves at a disadvantage by not using existing data about the customer in their intro. Reps may feel that they can’t access the data. The data needs to be on their phone and in Outlook.

[5:10] It has to be easier for a rep to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing. Daniel suggests that the organization should provide tech to conform to the rep’s existing behavior.

[6:16] Andy says the issue is that sales is in an unhealthy condition. Some behaviors need to change. Tech should make it easier to make needed changes. Daniel talks about the benefits for ‘B’ and ‘C’ players of a platform like Seismic.

[8:38] Modeling after the ‘A’ players may be a bad idea, as far as the process goes. ‘A’ players are given more leeway to go outside the process, due to their overperforming.

[9:50] ‘A’ players use their strengths. Is a ‘B’ player able to become an ‘A’ player, working within the process? Stage advancement is a main metric of success. Study which materials are most effective at each stage, for any rep to use.

[11:55] Knowing the correlation coefficient for material effectiveness is a challenge, by the large number of moving parts in any stage. Data suggests there are some things you should use that will be helpful, because they fit this case.

[14:18] There are other materials shown by data to be ineffective or negative. Reps need to be able to find the right content. Sales and Marketing need to discard content that is not good, and make good content findable.

[15:41] Marketing controls the overall message, but there is a targeted message for each sale. Sales wants control over that. Seismic gives content tools to Marketing and Sales, including required industry regulatory compliance language.

[19:42] Seismic transforms your message and sales collateral into strategic assets for your business. Marketing is not about billboards anymore, it’s about handing leads to sales. Now ‘enablement’ ties the CMO to revenue gen. and rep success.

[22:05] Seismic is used in Marketing and in Sales. It provides interaction with digital content. It allows screen sharing, and selling by iPad, to provide hyper-tailored content and follow-up collateral for that lead, in real time.

[24:36] Just before a sales meeting, a rep opens the Seismic app, finds the intro presentation, opens it, and runs a wizard that customizes it through CRM for the specific account, with a fitting case study. Daniel explains the full process in detail.