Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
September 22, 2017

#572. How to Hire the First Salesperson for a Startup. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[2:57] Bridget brings a guest from Bianca Lewis was the first sales rep at is the third startup to bring Bianca in as the first sales rep. She joins a company with an unproven product and gives them a big lift.

[4:02] Bianca talks of the energy, the understanding, and the incredible dedication to the cause that such an endeavor involves. Bianca started at each startup after the Founders had dipped their toes in the market with their friend networks.

[7:01] Bianca says the invaluable initial skeleton of the system was in place. What Bianca did was to put flesh on those bones. She talked to her own network to find the value of the product to the prospect and developed the pitch from there.

[7:43] Bianca’s process: A startup has no brand against established competitors. Bianca turns that into an advantage by getting a firm grip on the technology, the market, and the value, and offering prospects a role in a new approach.

[9:14] Besides the flexibility of newness, there are pricing and support advantages, because there aren’t many clients yet. Success breeds success. After the first clients, Bianca talks about why clients are going with a new firm.

[9:47] The first salesperson is always the Founder/CoFounder. Bianca has the ability to recognize the pattern they establish, and apply it to the market beyond their network, starting with low-hanging fruit and building up a network as she goes.

[12:27] The pitch for the first customers is different than the pitch after you have gotten initial traction. The first signups need to see a low risk. Offer a one-month trial, not an annual contract, on a product two weeks old. Then hire talented reps.

[14:34] The initial sales reps will work closely with the lead seller until there is product stability. Bridget notes that Bianca is highly over-qualified, which makes her a good match for selling an evolving product, and stay involved in each sale.

[17:49] There’s a tendency to make the first sales hire the VP of Sales. Instead, hire someone who is more focused on achievement, but will add to the infrastructure in preparation for the hiring of a VP of Sales. Bianca discusses hiring errors.

[22:37] Bianca’s original title at was “Sales.” She is a pinch hitter without a large ego; good at everything with the trust of the founders and working long hours to get deals. Titles are incredibly restrictive in the initial stages of a startup.

[26:29] The initial salesperson who can demonstrate to the CoFounders their understanding of the product technology and how it will fit into companies will gain their trust and be able to build a good team. Bianca’s only focus is closing.

[29:50] When the VP of Sales is hired, as Bridget was, the question is what to do with the first salesperson. Bridget says to continue to empower them.

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.

June 2, 2017

#474. Don’t Be a Lazy and Lousy Interviewer. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[2:11] Hiring — Bridget interviews a lot of reps who list great successes on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Success at one company does not mean success at another. Bridget is befuddled by how badly they test on discovery calls!

[4:40] Bridget is not listening to their audition as a customer. Maybe the rep builds a rapport that leads to connections, even without having a great approach.

[6:14] The New York Times ran an article recently on the utter uselessness of job interviews as predictors of future success. Andy had a client who hired only by GPA, and he hired very smart and talented people. Bridget wishes Andy had told her!

[9:20] Always give a professional assessment, and come up with a way to test for knowledge relevant to the job. Be skeptical of your own ability to judge by an interview. Facts on resumes must be validated. Factor in past record, such as GPA.

[12:30] “Trust, but verify!” Interviews are not places for trust. Bridget puts herself in the place of a candidate. How should she prepare for an interview, if the interview doesn’t matter?

[13:28] Treat an interview as a discovery call. Ask as many questions as you need. (Let the interviewer ask all their questions.) The NYT article says if managers asked each candidate the same questions, it would improve reliability.

[15:07] In cases where several people interview one candidate, should they each ask the same 5-10 questions? The manager should not treat the interview as an opportunity to sell their own company. That defeats the intent of the interview.

[17:51] Separate your own emotions as an interviewer, from the interview process. Bridget wants to explore this topic more deeply. Her mindset and practices have been challenged!

[19:43] Hiring is difficult. The GPA method isn’t as far out as Andy once thought. It worked as well as any other method. Andy discusses variance and risk. Bridget may try it.

[21:55] Bridget is on her way to an interview, and will let Andy know how it goes!

May 22, 2017

#464 How to Inspire Lifetime Loyalty with Employees. With Lee Caraher.

Lee Caraher, CEO of Double Forte digital agency in San Francisco, keynote speaker, and author of Millennials in Management, The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work, and most recently, The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate! You can also listen to Episode #079, to hear Lee’s first interview.


[2:52] Lee explains the boomerang principle is that companies that encourage and allow former employees to return have a strategic advantage over those that don’t.

[3:07] Lee lists some effects upon culture from hiring back high performers. Boomerangs may stay longer, the second, or even third time back.

[4:27] Careers may span 50 years. Lee discusses the changes to companies and employees over that extended period.

[7:13] Some companies do not mention past employees or acknowledge their existence. Lee explains why not honoring their contributions is bad for company culture.

[8:23] Lee discusses Boomer attitudes, and how they’ve changed, regarding length of employment. The ‘myth of the golden watch’ still prevails, but the reality is quite different.

[11:33] There are reasons that people avoid applying at former employers, and reasons that they should apply. Lee explores these reasons. The key to relevance is to keep learning as an employee. No company is the same as it was a decade ago.

[14:40] Lee’s own company has rehired several former employees, and others are clients. About 90% of their alumni are positive contributors to their bottom line.

[15:47] Lee notes that in her experience, the continuing learning necessary for an employee to stay relevant is tremendous. Her company’s methods have morphed three times since she started it. Everybody changes to keep up.

[18:58] According to Tyler Cowen, people are switching jobs less, and moving less from state to state. Lee compares and contrasts this with her own observations.

[21:00] Lee defines the culture of appreciation. Lee’s father, a surgeon, told her, “If I said please and thank you in the OR, someone would die on the table.” She had to learn to appreciate employees. Research shows it boosts profit 7-21%.

[28:01] Lee discusses the culture of leadership. Millennials like to be acknowledged for leadership. Create an environment for Millennials to thrive, and everyone will thrive.

[30:09] Boomers experienced the best economy ever until the crashes of 2000 and 2008. That economy is over, and it will never again be what it was. Employees need to be relevant to be employed. Employers need the best talent.

March 24, 2017

Are You a Great Candidate for Your Next Sales Job? With Bridget Gleason. #414

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


[1:54] Bridget is hiring for the Boston office of! Hires must be a good cultural fit in this foundational group. Account Executives are needed for mainly inside complex sales of log management and analytics to mid-level technical prospects.

[5:55] Bridget has been using LinkedIn and in-house recruiters. One investor, OpenView, has been a great source. Bridget looks for signs of leadership on a resume. Listen to hear the other qualities she seeks.

[8:51] Don’t be overly modest on your resume. Include leadership roles, even if not titled as such.

[9:34] Schools indicate your background. A high GPA is positive, but not the determining factor.

[11:00] Attention to detail on a resume suggests attention to detail in sales. Bridget looks for two to five years of experience, and if you had a job in school. She wants ambition, hustle, self-directedness, curiosity, leadership, and teamwork.

[13:17] Bridget’s interviews: Candidates are phone screened for their narrative, then they present a mock discovery call to show preparedness and understanding. When they meet, Bridget looks for presence. The CEO Skypes each candidate.

[17:51] Bridget explores what she means by presence.

[19:11] Is it easy for a new salesperson to be ‘comfortable in their own skin’? How does that influence an interview? How does it relate to leadership? Bridget talks about a new hire on a non-traditional path, and how he interviewed with the CEO.

[21:39] How do military veterans fit into the culture? In Israel, military service is compulsory!

March 8, 2017

Use A Talent Strategy to Hire ‘A’ Players. With Mike Drapeau. #400

Mike Drapeau, is Managing Partner at Sales Benchmark Index. He heads SBI’s internal talent development.


[3:58] Revenue Growth Methodology is built around three pillars of growth: marketing, sales, and product. The equation is 50% talent and 50% performance conditions. What talent strategy can help underperforming companies?

[6:02] Mike cites Elliott Jaques on talent potentiality, and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn on the alliance between employer and employee. SBI looks not just for accomplishments, but also for  potentiality. They measure Sacrifice Tolerance Level.

[7:27] STL is measured specifically to each position, by asking what they were willing to sacrifice, and if they knew for what purpose they were sacrificing. Mike cites Clayton Christensen. Will what they give up now get them to where they want to be?

[8:14] Mike looks for people who can do long-term and short-term thinking. Instead of a learning curve, SBI offers a learning cliff, and it’s not an easy climb. The job trial is role specific, but three weeks, 10 hours a week, of their A-game.

[11:20] Mike explains the type of job trial they might offer to a candidate; in this example, a role-played virtual video presentation suited to the client scenario. Empathy is a core differentiator for working with clients, and they test for it.

[14:44] Andy says companies write job specifications, but they don’t test to the specifications. Mike agrees it is necessary to create conditions that will test the candidate’s performance and suitability for a role.

[16:40] Greg Alexander, SBI CEO, co-wrote Topgrading for Sales on how to hire the best salespeople. Calculate the cost of hiring a C player instead of an A player.

[18:27] References should include the last three bosses, and a subordinate. Look at W2s for three years. Test candidates to analyze data. Use the “threat of reference check.” One killer question for past bosses: “How would you manage them?”

[23:09] Onboarding best practices are addressed in articles Mike has written at, available for free. SBI uses a self-service tool called Asana. Put someone very senior over onboarding (sales manager or higher).

[24:24] Onboarding is a four-month process, integrating content specific to a role, by stage of development, by month. A personal dossier merges personal goals with professional aspirations. A tour of duty plans out a three-year path.

[28:45] Sales training is preparation for coaching. Without the coaching, the training degrades quickly. SBI teaches sales managers how to coach, not how to manage. Coaching is 20-25% of a manager’s time and effort.

February 11, 2017

How To Hire and Coach the Best Sales Professionals. With Ken Thoreson. #379

Joining me once again on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Ken Thoreson, President of Acumen Management Group, and author of several books on sales, sales management, hiring, and personal development. Ken’s latest book is, SLAMMED!!! For the First Time Sales Manager.


[1:01] Acumen Management was started 19 years ago, focused on strengthening sales management, through workshops, blogs, and books, around leading an organization, sales compensation planning, and hiring a high-performance team.

[2:16] Sales managers are often promoted from sales, with no management training. They have a list of management responsibilities, but continue to stick to sales activities, don’t set priorities, and fail to create business and sales plans.

[4:20] The biggest challenge facing sales managers today is their inability to build a process, so they can focus on the execution. Most organizations have poor sales execution.

[5:45] Ken quotes Butch Jones, Football Coach, U of Tennessee, “Every player does not give 110% every day; it’s the coach’s job to increase their intensity and the effort they give.” Coach to align the soul of the individual with the goal of the company.

[6:44] Salespeople need to believe in the company, in the product or service, and in how they can impact their clients. The sales manager needs stories, with real examples of people being helped. Salespeople leave if they don’t believe.

[11:09] “Don’t swing at the first pitch.” If you mis-hire, it costs four times what you paid in salary.

[16:09] Build the right candidate profile, and involve other managers, people in the sales team, and maybe customers, in the choice.

[19:21] Look at your product or service, the client you need to influence, who you want to have approaching them, and what kind of training they will need. You may hire a non-salesperson with product expertise.

[21:50] Assessments are a tool, and they should be more of an indicator, than a screen. Testing is essential. An interview is no place for trust. Let the candidate give a presentation, write a pitch on your product, or be tested in a social situation.

[26:36] Hire slow; fire fast. Take everyone through the hiring process. Do not skip a step. Just like the sales process, it’s there to qualify the candidate.

[27:58] Ken gives sample interview questions, and the reasons for them.

[30:34] Ken recommends clients start a book club, and discuss the book for 15 minutes in every weekly sales meeting. Andy mentions his 15-minute daily reading program for clients.

January 20, 2017

How to Build and Manage Distributed Sales Teams. With Bridget Gleason. #360

Welcome to another Front Line Friday with my very special guest, Bridget Gleason. On this week’s episode, Bridget and I discuss, among other topics, how she is hiring a sales team for her new position of V.P. of Sales at, how to accommodate account executives with relocation issues, and how complex sales need a complex infrastructure.


[3:04] Bridget’s new job of V.P. of Sales at has her looking for technical account executives in the Boston and
San Francisco areas. Her contact information is below!

[3:51] Bridget is, once again, setting up a sales organization from scratch. Challenge number one is time and geography. Her company is a startup, based in Tel Aviv, 10 hours ahead of San Francisco and seven hours ahead of Boston.

[4:56] Learning how to set up and manage distributed teams in a global market is something we will all have to learn to do well.

[7:53] The sales model Bridget is building, is an inside/hybrid role. There will be an SDR team, helping filter inbound and making outbound. There will be account executives, with some experience in SMB mid-market, looking to grow their careers.

[10:18] The biggest challenge of remote management is where people are located, vs. where they are needed.

[13:44] Great employees are requiring flexibility on where to live. Can they be accommodated and still cohere into a team?

[16:04] Bridget looks for people who are self-directed, motivated, smart, and curious, and who have integrity, that have some affinity for technology.

[17:10] Andy looks for big-picture ‘systems thinkers,’ for the kind of sales role under discussion. He looks at what they have done so far, and he asks them probing questions.

[20:26] In Bridget’s view, there is one team — not a U.S. team, and a Tel Aviv team. She looks for team-oriented people.

[22:03] Andy describes a $1B company that does not have a sales function. They have project teams that sell. That team mentality and cooperation are needed for complex deals.

December 16, 2016

Hiring, Firing and Knowing When to Leave. With Bridget Gleason. #332

Welcome to another Front Line Friday with my remarkable guest, Bridget Gleason. On this week’s episode, Bridget and I discuss, among other topics, employment-related questions people have asked Bridget, the sales team characteristics of companies in different stages of growth, whether personal growth or employment stability is more important to a sales professional, and how a manager should make the decision to terminate an underperforming rep.

September 15, 2016

How to Quickly Ramp-up New Sales Reps. With Scott Miller. #254

Scott Miller is founder and CEO of, a plug-in, designed to improve close rates and shorten the ramp-up time for new sales reps. Join us now as we discuss some best practices in quickly ramping-up the productivity of new sales reps, the concept of peer-to-peer selling, the importance of having a repertoire of win-stories, and the self-directed framework. Be sure to listen now!