Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
September 20, 2017

#570 Using Funnel Metrics to Close More Deals. With Matt Ostanik.

Matt Ostanik, Founder and CEO of FunnelWise, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[5:53] Matt says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is changed buying behavior, with buyers going further in the buying process before contacting a salesperson, plus changed sales technology. Reps need to be very adaptable.

[7:14] Matt discusses recent changes to the buying journey and how it continues to change.

[8:57] Committee-driven buying is the rule across many industries but there is always one person on each committee who is the most accountable, according to recent research. Find this person during discovery.

[11:37] FunnelWise is a set of services to help you get more out of your marketing and sales funnel. Matt started the company after starting and selling a SaaS business and struggling as a sales manager to look forward in Salesforce.

[14:34] FunnelWise analyzes funnel metrics such as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) converted into sales opportunities and win rates of sales opportunities. It shows how MQLs get higher win rates than other sources. It can study individual rep rates.

[17:05] Matt address variability of variables between industries and clients. FunnelWise takes into consideration points that are fair comparisons and points that should not be compared due to variability. Matt sees a need for funnel education.

[20:22] To get more out of your funnel, draw conclusions from the data, then test the conclusions and iterate continually. Matt gives an example of how to hypothesize and test conclusions.

[21:49] People want to use the metrics to find the top performers, see what they’re doing, and teach others to do the same. Andy doesn’t see that working. Matt sees three dimensions to test: actions, skillsets, and product knowledge.

[23:39] The real variable is the individual seller. The biggest puzzle is to measure individual productivity and to improve it. It is a conversation of art vs. science of sales and management.

[25:47] Productivity is a key metric that is not standardized. What is the maximum an individual contributor can produce? Matt sees organizations looking more at capacity planning.

[27:15] A rep produces $X of revenue per hour. What is that number and what is its growth potential? Look for patterns and the bigger picture, and what reps do with their leads.

[28:22] The CEO needs to drive Sales and Marketing Alignment, and sometimes they need to see the business case, based on potential success from more sales. The CEO either intentionally or accidentally shapes company culture.


September 19, 2017

#569 Should you become a Certified Sales Professional? With Willis Turner.

Willis Turner, President and CEO of SMEI, Sales and Marketing Executives International, Inc., joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[3:54] Willis says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is taking time out to sharpen the saw and keep up-to-date on the newest technologies and education.

[4:51] Organizations want sales reps to educate themselves. There is a trend toward self-directed learning, investing their own time and money. A sales professional is in charge of their own career.

[6:29] Work is becoming more flexible and outcome-oriented. Individuals need to keep up with industry education. Sales may be going in a direction of independence, as manufacturers’ reps often are today.

[8:31] SMEI was founded as a nonprofit in 1935. They follow their founding principles of career advancement support by certification for people in the sales and marketing profession and provide career readiness support for college graduates.

[10:25] SMEI offers four certifications by testing: CSE for sales managers, SCPS for salespeople, CME for marketing managers and SCPM for people working in the marketing department. Certification is a validation of individual producers.

[13:28] Certifications test for knowledge, not competence. There are pre-requisites which imply competence. To be certified you need experience in the field. A certification starts with a detailed job analysis and a bank of tests.

[17:22] Andy would like to see basic sales skills covered in sales courses at the university level, to prepare graduates for professional selling and sales management. Willis adds his list of theories and topics that should be taught academically.

[20:00] SMEI continues to update the certifications, based on their detailed job analyses, which are refreshed every four to five years. The core competencies include principles which are not trendy, as well as technologies, which are developing.

[21:50] Customers who are certified themselves in some discipline are the first to notice the value of a sales certification. This drives demand.

[25:34] Hiring managers could add certifications to job postings to help mitigate the risks of hiring salespeople. SMEI issues digital badges as part of the certification. The badges plug into LinkedIn profiles and at career centers.

[31:07] Willis explains the cost for individual certifications, including an online exam prep course, and annual renewals.

[32:19] Willis has not seen any movements toward government regulation of sales. He would like to see self-regulation by peers. People taking the certification recognize why they lost certain deals in the past.

September 18, 2017

#568 The Science of Effective Presentations. With Nadjya Ghausi.

Nadjya Ghausi, VP of Marketing at Prezi, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[4:41] Nadjya says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is noise. Attention spans are decreasing while competition for attention is increasing. Reps need to learn to engage prospects by zeroing in on their wants and needs.

[7:06] Prezi started in 2009 in Hungary and moved to San Francisco. There is a user base of 85 million. It is a unique presentation platform built on an open canvas that allows free collaboration and conversation.

[8:33] Prezi’s non-linear navigation is unique. With pans and zooms, the experience is more like a movie than a slideshow.

[10:12] Prezi was the inspiration of an architect/visual designer and partners. They wanted a presentation that made good relational use of space and freeform movement. It became a unique new approach to communication.

[11:55] Nadjya explains how a user creates a Prezi. Start with the end you want to reach. Think of visual metaphors to use along the way. Consider story structure, and nonlinear paths to establish the story. The canvas presents topics at a glance.

[13:50] Prezi allows reps to zoom into what the prospect wants to know, whether introduction or detail. This can focus and help accelerate the sales cycle. Nadjya contrasts Prezi with a sales deck. Prezi is usable as an interactive conversation.

[17:03] Presenters using Powerpoint are telling a sequential story. Prezi requires mastery of your subject matter, leading to better conversations. Graphic presentations are more persuasive than text presentations.

[18:29] Nadjya discusses graphics, and expectations, as audiences will evolve through generations. Storytelling is a natural aspect of Prezi.

[19:51] Storytelling is an underdeveloped skill in sales. Prezi makes it easier to present your story.

[20:46] Prezi tracks how the presentation goes and what is shown, with analytics integrated into Slack or Salesforce.

[23:11] Prezi can share editing through Slack with permissions. Analytics note the time each user spends with a Prezi. In the course of a meeting, a Prezi can be zoomed in as the prospect comments. Watch for Augmented Reality to come!

[29:12] Preparing a Prezi, Nadjya asks herself what’s the best visual way to explain what she’s saying, and how all the parts fit together or stand alone. Higher user engagement adds memorability.

September 15, 2017

#567. Overcoming Resistance to Being Coached. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[2:54] This is episode 97 of Front Line Fridays. Watch for Episode 100! The topic of this episode is coaching and helping people who have been promoted.

[3:40] Bridget asks about coaching reps who are resistant to coaching. One rep is aware of his distaste for it and admits it, which actually makes him quite coachable. Others resist it altogether. The feedback from your manager is important.

[5:32] Coaching is meant to be collaborative, not directive. It is encouraging. Ask questions, so people see for themselves what the problem is and have a framework to let them develop a solution for it, without feeling defensive.

[8:47] You cannot force someone to be coached. It is a joint activity. Wait until they are in a teachable condition. Let them stumble, and ask for help. If they don’t learn and don’t ask, they should be managed to another career. Don’t do their job.

[11:27] Another approach is to learn more about the account that the rep knows, and discuss the account with the rep. This was used on Andy in such a way that he knew he had some more work to do on that account.

[13:37] Andy comes up with another avenue: Find one thing on which to coach someone. Keep it small. If there is still resistance, that leads to a question: Is this rep in the right job? Bridget suggests hiring for coachability.

[15:54] Mark Roberge of Hubspot would have a candidate give a presentation, provide the candidate with feedback, ask them to leave the room, and then have them come back and repeat the presentation. Mark watched if they used the feedback.

[17:51] A person who doesn’t use the feedback is not aware of their situation. Observation and awareness is a very important aspect of sales. Listen intently and integrate what you observe.

[20:49] A person who visualizes the outcome of the coaching they receive, and then desires to go try it, is most coachable. They are curious. A person with poor performance is fearful to move out of their comfort zone, even to improve themselves.

[24:11] The lesser performers are those who complain about management and make excuses. The higher performers are always seeking new insight to improve themselves. You can only coach people who want to be coached.

[25:52] Where do you go for training at a company that has no experience in the job you’ve just gotten? Take a class, find a mentor that can teach you. Go and visit customers. Talk to product end users. Immerse yourself with customers.

[29:40] Being promoted from an SMB rep to an enterprise rep is opening many layers of complexity in one motion. You want a lot of support to complete the transition easily. Andy talks about doing it with no support. Build client trust. Be a pioneer.

September 14, 2017

#566 Bots and AI for Chat in Sales. With David Brunner.

David Brunner, CEO and Founder of ModuleQ, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate! Also, listen to David’s first episode, #200.


[3:40] David says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is complexity. The technology, the competition, and the number of people and tools you interact with to work continue to expand. David suggests, stay focused. Don’t try to multitask.

[7:23] To eliminate unnecessary distraction, it is necessary to triage important interruptions that represent new opportunities, from what is unimportant and can wait.

[8:12] ModuleQ builds people-facing AI to understand you as a professional. This works with data-facing AI to bridge the gap, and to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time to make them more effective in their role.

[9:08] David gives an example of the process. The AI listens to your team chats and joins the chat to offer suggestions in real time about new data or other informative content that may help you engage the client you are discussing.

[10:22] The AI-enabled bot sitting on the messaging platform is the delivery vehicle for the intelligence. The concept is to bring the information to you in a place that is natural, timely, and contextually relevant, without distracting you from your focus.

[11:08] The AI tunes the preferences based on your actions. You have a Not Useful button to mark content not contextual or helpful, and a Useful button for helpful information. You can click on links and email them. The AI learns what you want.

[13:52] Andy notes that some companies are using a similar approach with AI-assisted calling. David sees chat as better because it gives you time to reflect before replying. The theme is to augment, not replace, human intelligence.

[15:01] Routine, low-level tasks will increasingly be replaced with machine learning. The human touch is needed for jobs that involve higher-level conceptualization and personal relationships. AI may never perform some unstructured jobs.

[22:13] David offers predictions of upcoming developments with bots and AI, including top-of-funnel activities, predictive analytics, bringing the right information to the conversation at the right time, and mobilizing resources.

[24:38] ModuleQ helps unlock the value of corporate content. David cites Lew Platt of HP, “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” That problem has only gotten worse. People don’t have time to search for data.

[25:33] David discusses how audio, photos and video can be indexed. The data-facing side is a huge undertaking. It can attach meta-data, which then allows the people-facing side to match the metadata to the people who need it.

[27:16] In the future, video sales calls might be analyzed in real time, pulling in pertinent references and adding to the conversation. The buyer may have bots working on their side, comparing vendors. Bots are watching and listening!

September 13, 2017

#565 The Five Hallmarks of High-Performing Sales Organizations. With Norman Behar.

Norman Behar, CEO & Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate! Also listen to Norman’s first episode, #318.


[3:34] Norman says the single biggest challenge facing sales teams today is ‘qualification.’ There is a disconnect between the leads generated and the opportunities going into the sales funnel. Norman explains how lead qualification has changed.

[4:45] There is a high percentage of leads not being followed up. So many leads are based on content marketing, and those leads are often not market-qualified. Some companies have a team to follow up these leads, and a team for qualified leads.

[7:44] Sales Readiness Group, with Selling Power, released the “2017 Sales Management Research Report: The Five Hallmarks of High-Impact Sales Organizations.” It covers responsibilities of sales managers. A survey was sent to find best practices.

[10:23] Norman discusses the data from the survey. 17% of organizations have fewer than 25% of reps meeting quota. Assuming the quotas were set right, their managers are not as well-skilled or trained as managers are in the other groups.

[11:55] Sales managers at high-impact sales organizations spend more time coaching. There are two types of coaching: opportunity and skills. Skills coaching is harder for coaches promoted from sales. They haven’t learned the right skills.

[14:42] Survey questions included: Do they make coaching a collaborative process? Do they assess the sales person’s knowledge and skill levels? Are they developing personalized coaching plans for each one of their sales people?

[15:09] Do they plan and maintain an organized coaching schedule? Do they follow a defined coaching program? Respondents noted how important they felt these skills were, and how well they rated themselves on these skills.

[15:35] In high-impact groups, managers spent a higher percentage of their time coaching. Norman offers a suggestion for the ideal percentage of time for managers to spend on coaching, depending on the size and nature of the sales team.

[17:44] 73% of all sales managers receive no training on coaching. This is a missed opportunity. What is more important than training the trainers? Norman always first recommends sales manager coaching training.

[21:46] High-impact organizations are proficient at recruiting and hiring salespeople. Managers need to be trained how to hire. It is critical to know what behaviors are wanted, and how to ask questions to reveal them. Learn to ask great questions.

[27:45] Interviews are more effective if everyone interviewing asks the same questions of each candidate. You can compare consistent data points from each interviewer.

[28:46] High-impact organizations invest more to develop their sales managers, but they may not yet be spending enough. The lower groups are spending much less, if anything, on training their managers. A good program is $1,500 to $3,000.

September 12, 2017

#564 Improve Your Close Rates and Build Your Brand. With Chris Smith.

Chris Smith, CEO of Curaytor, and author of the best-selling book, The Conversion Code: Capture Internet Leads, Create Quality Appointments, Close More Sales, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[3:26] Chris says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is distraction. Reps need to focus on meaningful conversations with humans. Chris says technology, used correctly, makes it easier, if you work on engagement.

[6:11] AI may start conversations and warm people up, but it doesn’t close sales. Know your numbers. Use digital activities to help salespeople talk to more people.

[8:44] Chris gives an outline of Curaytor. It is a turn-key marketing outsource site. Curaytor has a team and a network of business owners who can use each other’s best ads with a click.

[10:44] Chris explains the Curaytor CAB process. Curaytor helps you Create amazing Content, run effective Ads, and send effective Blast emails. This makes selling easier using data-driven decisions with the resources of a community.

[12:31] Curaytor’s ICP is a successful small business that wants to be more successful but doesn’t have time for digital. Curaytor started from Chris’s influential real estate blog, Tech Savvy Agent. People wanted him to market for them.

[14:34] Chris talks about his book, The Conversion Code. People don’t know how to navigate the digital landscape, so he wrote a book about it, in sections for leads, appointments, and sales. There’s a science to selling.

[15:59] Your job in sales is to get people more emotionally excited than the price, during the time you have their attention. It involves a set of factors that Chris explains.

[17:15] ‘Belly-to-belly’ interactions are still as important as ever, but you will have fewer of them if you are not good on social platforms first, to get the attention of your prospects. The internet magnifies both greatness and mediocrity.

[21:28] Build a great business that creates a great brand. Market what you did to build your business. That improves your brand. It is a cycle.

[24:00] Chris comments on the professionalism of texting with your contacts. People check texts more readily than emails, and texts are more immediate. Don’t let replies to your website sit for hours without your contacting them. Text them.

[26:28] Chris coaches salespeople. When they find a method that works every time, they stick with it. Texting works, if they give it a try. A phone method that works is ARP: Acknowledge, Respond, and Pivot back to what you were saying.

[29:25] Respond, then pivot. A sales script is a framework for a better conversation. Wing it, after you’re making $10K a month using the script. Bill Belichick knows the first 20 plays and the last 2 plays, and the rest, Tom Brady has some leeway.

September 11, 2017

#563. Leverage Social Media in Account-Based Selling. With Garrett Mehrguth.

Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[2:46] Garrett says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is differentiation — presenting your niche and value proposition, and including content that adds value to the prospect.

[3:53] Garrett tells how to create differentiation. The human-to-human connection is first, but differentiation comes from showing how you’ve solved similar problems for others.

[5:14] Garrett discusses increasing revenue potential in every stage of the pipeline through the use of social media. He explains how Facebook ads target can your CRM contacts.

[10:06] Garrett gives numbers for his own Facebook usage for top-of-funnel awareness.

[11:50] Garrett says that Facebook ads give him the best cost per response. He notes their features compared to Twitter and LinkedIn ads. Use graphics with a professional appearance.

[14:23] Garrett explains the essential nature of the call to action and the landing page. Garrett uses dual offers on the landing page of his calls to action.

[16:49] There are different offers for different personas. Garrett gives an explanation of the outreach to personas at different levels.

[21:07] Garrett talks about pitching Andy to get on the Accelerate! Podcast, and how he did it.

[21:39] What is Garrett’s ‘ask’ for a Facebook ad? Garrett wants to get the prospect on a call, to establish for them that they are a good fit.

[23:07] Garrett’s immediate target is to grow the business, through new hiring. He explains how he has delegated hiring.

[24:54] Garrett elaborates on social proof. Watch your keywords. The highest close rates are coming from sites where social proof (reviews) are present.

[26:56] There are alternatives to Captera for smaller companies. Garrett points out how works, and other directories with reviews.

September 8, 2017

#562. How to Generate Product Qualified Leads. With Bridget Gleason and Mitch Morando.

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


[2:05] Bridget is joined on this episode by special return guest

Mitch Morando, CEO, and Founder of Whalr, the exclusive sponsor of Front Line Fridays. Whalr focuses on Product Qualified Leads and watches product usage for sales cues.

[4:43] A SaaS company with a freemium product can use Whalr to analyze the SaaS usage, and the firmographic data to determine PQLs to engage in a sales outreach.

[5:09] Bridget shares her experience with product use data. Mitch learned the PQL technique from game developers using player telemetry to build immersive games. He started applying the principles to his sales teams years ago.

[5:23] The ICP is a developer of freemium products for engineers and their sales team aimed at the enterprise.

[7:32] Mitch recommends best practices for sales engineers approaching engineers, and sales reps approaching management. These conversations happen by email, GitHub posts, and SMS chat.

[11:66] Bridget says uses use text and private Slack channels. Some sales reps use the title customer success engineer for engineers and learn the technical jargon. It’s a different conversation than with the VP of Engineering.

[14:02] What music is on Mitch’s playlist? Only one thing: Pearl Jam. Mitch speaks of how well they treat their fan club members at concerts.

[16:51] Mitch’s favorite sales book is Influence, by Robert Cialdini. Mitch has every new salesperson read this book. His favorite non-sales book is Boyd, by Robert Coram, about the fighter pilot, theoretician, and strategist who introduced OODA loops.

[22:04] Mitch asks for Andy’s and Bridgets favorite books. Andy’s is anything by Shakespeare and Harold Bloom’s book about Shakespeare. Bridget loves Les Miserables, and StartUp Nation, about Israel.

[23:21] Andy’s recommended business book is Triggers, by Marshall Goldsmith on behavior change. Bridget recommends Winner’s Dream, by Bill McDermott a memoir of his success journey in business.

[26:17] Mitch’s words to live by: “We come from a time where you were expected to make your own way. We didn’t wait around for people to do something for us.” — Unknown. Mitch is focused on improving his skills in qualifying and closing.

[29:00] Mitch asks about “the July lull.” Bridget says to have a plan for a lull. Andy spent years selling to Europe. You have to pierce the veil. He did a lot of business in August in Europe — maybe not in France! Mitch always had good sales in the lull.

September 7, 2017

#561. Buyer Aware Account-Based Selling. With Darlene Mann.

Darlene Mann, Co-founder, President, and COO at Akoonu, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[3:08] Darlene says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is the complexity of the selling process to create value leading to a sale. The mechanization distracts reps from the heart of selling — understanding and helping buyers.

[4:30] Is the sales stack too complex? Darlene sees two sides to the issue. They buyer team faces greater complexity in buying, from many competing vendors offering feature-rich services. Personal connection is the key.

[7:03] The sales stack serves the seller, but where are the tools to serve the buyer’s need for making a good decision quickly? Darlene says Akoonu factors in the buyer and seller, each with their own activities. It helps the seller to understand the buyer.

[10:15] There may be an opportunity for an entrepreneur to develop tools to engage the seller and buyer systems in collaboration through the buying journey.

[10:50] Akoonu means ‘content.’ It looks at content the digital marketing world is producing, in an effort to reshape account-based selling for sales organizations. It is suited for complex, long-cycle sales, not for transactional unit sales.

[12:48] Akoonu collects data from Salesforce, email, calendars, and other sales enablement tools, to construct a buyer’s journey in alignment with your sales process, showing an opportunity map, and suggesting next steps with each contact.

[14:20] Darlene discusses Akoonu’s ROI. Giving the rep better views of the buyer puts them in a better position to close. Two extra deals a year will pay for Akoonu. Buyer context that persists is being created. Deal reviews are quick and efficient.

[18:02] Does the stack help sales? Darlene says the marketing side of the stack is essential. The sales side of the stack facilitates account-based selling. Reps are using the CRM mainly to store data, while the stack enables sales efficiency.

[21:37] Reps are still figuring out how to use the stack to make account-based selling efficient and productive. Darlene explains marketing automation, and leads, vs. opportunities.

[25:45] Distinguish between tools and best practices. A smart organization aligns marketing and sales, so outreach is researched, and contacts are personalized to specific needs.

[30:67] Use the technology to help position yourself as buyer-centric. Understand the business and needs, and get feedback to help the buyer make a good decision to buy.

[32:16] Customers change through the act of selling to them. They become more informed and intelligent about their needs. Be thoughtful, mindful, and deliberate as their ideas about their needs change through greater product knowledge.