Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
September 28, 2017

#576 Sales Enablement for Sales Teams. With Robert Wahbe.

Robert Wahbe, Co-Founder and CEO at Highspot, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[6:02] Robert says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is cutting through noise, differentiating their product, and highlighting what is important to the customer. Sales leaders must enable teams with knowledge and assets. [8:25] Buyer research shows they trust the salesperson more than the vendor. Robert says the rep should be on a texting basis with the customer. It takes three levels of winning make a deal: Brand, hearts and minds, and economic value.

[10:43] It is challenging to know the value of sales data. Robert trusts conversion and win rates contrasted with similar competitors. If you are behind, learn best practices. Deliver customer value connected to the product. Be flexible.

[13:20] Robert tells the Highspot origins. He noticed marketers had no idea what was driving deals. He saw content was published but not findable. Robert and his partners connected the cloud, user interface, mobile, and AI to content resources.

[15:29] Highspot was a Sales Enablement Platform before there was a category for it. They help across the lifecycle of content assets, making recommendations, customization, combinations of assets to send, and analytics after the fact.

[20:42] Robert comments on sales research about quota attainment and conversion rates. Companies with sales enablement and competent training are more effective. He lists questions you should be asking before buying technology.

[25:57] Hire a sales enablement person before buying the system. Robert points to Salesforce of an example of a tool that does not solve your problems, but supports you in solving your problems — and it only helps if Reps adopt it.

[27:17] Andy is looking for tools that help the customer make a decision quicker. Robert talks about references, demos, points of contact, and content to helps the customer make decisions better. Reps need access to pertinent, valuable content.

[29:43] Andy cites Peter Ostrow at Aberdeen that sales teams that properly enabled sellers were 52% better at understanding what content to use, when, and with whom. The technology supports finding this content to save time.

[32:04] Top performers without a sales enablement have to spend hours finding this data, and middle performers without sales enablement don’t bother to spend the time, so the prospect is underserved. The top tier struggle to find content.

[33:31] Robert projects that in 10 years the $50K sale in a complex environment will still require human reps. Customers are buying a relationship with the company and the vision of where they are going. That takes a human connection.

[35:42] Salespeople need to become ‘more human,’ in connecting with the prospect. There are 5,000 apps for sales stacks. Robert sees some app consolidation in the future. Customers want one integrated solution as much as possible.


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September 21, 2017

#571 Driving Sales Enablement with Knowledge Management. With Rick Nucci.

Rick Nucci, Co-founder and CEO of Guru, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[5:07] Rick says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is getting the attention of the buyer, given the number of vendors attempting to engage your prospect through their inbox. Our own technologies are creating this problem.

[7:46] Sales automation is not as well-targeted as it should be. Rick believes the answer is not found in technology, but in human engagement with the specific buyer and their needs. Rick gives some indication of targeting done by the Guru team.

[9:29] It’s a cultural shift to go back to personalized targeting. Rick tells of three practices to follow. 1. Use the right metric for SDRs — quality. 2. Don’t use a template for the first email.

[14:16] The follow-up to the first email is an email from a template with a value for that prospect. 3. Invest in product marketing early. This allowed Guru to learn and execute on personas and the corresponding messaging.

[18:02] Guru is a knowledge management app that “lives where you work.” Guru replaces sales portals, Wikis, and intranet sites with a verified solution that’s built into the technology you use, with a browser extension and a Slackbot.

[20:26] Guru is a sales enablement tool. It is an answer to the complexity we have already created. It also helps the rep to be more educated. Rick gives a case study of a customer using Guru to help reps with the knowledge around new products.

[24:16] Reps need to have product knowledge at their fingertips, and tools to understand the customer. Guru talks about reasonably complex products. Pulling up the card often enough helps reps to learn the products.

[26:40] Guru deals with changes in assets. As assets change continually, it is not effective to try to keep all the information memorized. It’s more than just getting the right datasheet.

[29:13] Tools need to be effective for the middle 60% of the sales force. Analytics is a big part of it. Who is using your wiki? WIth Guru, you get reports how it is being used.

[31:31] Guru shows “time to pipeline contribution,” or how long it takes reps to contribute to the pipeline. This is helpful in high turnover cases.

[33:59] Besides onboarding time, Guru can measure how long a rep stays with the company. Rick talks about the technology monitoring signals of rep activities without the rep needing to log them in.

[36:32] Data on the aggregate amount of time it takes to close the deal can answer productivity questions.

September 6, 2017

#560. The Value of Salespeople According to B2B Buyers. With Steve Martin and Katie Bullard.

Steve Martin, technology sales author, sales researcher, Founder of Heavy Hitter Sales Training, and adjunct Professor at USC, and Katie Bullard, Chief Growth Officer at DiscoverOrg, join me on this episode of #Accelerate! to discuss their new report on B2B buyer preferences.


[4:01] People hear Steve Martin, and they smile. He has to go by Steve W. Martin. Steve says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is customer attention span. Attention spans have been shrinking for years, influenced by technology.

[5:46] Katie explains the DiscoverOrg report, “Why Didn’t They Buy: A Deep Dive into Buyer Preferences, and Implications for Salespeople,” primarily authored by Steve. The goal is to share knowledge of buyer behaviors to adapt seller behaviors.

[8:18] The report notes that buyers rank feature sets among competing products as equal. Factors other than product determine the sale. The sales cycle is the process of ferreting out the truth from confusing product claims.

[9:53] Buyers are more informed today than ever. One of the findings of the report is the influence of the internet, and how buyers use it. Steve says generalizations have exceptions. Katie talks about selling to sales, vs. selling to marketing.

[13:41] Selling to personas encourages rigidity. People belonging to a persona are not identical. Sales methods fit the pitch around the persona, not around people. Selling fits around people, not personas, so, human connection is vital.

[17:14] In our lifetime, AI will not replace reps. The report gives six topic areas. First is Risk. Buyers see most reps as average or poor. People with degrees in the sciences have a lower view of salespeople, which affects their tolerance for risk.

[23:13] Buyer perception of reps and buyer willingness to take risks are inversely proportional. At the low end of risk are government and health care. At the high end are fashion, entertainment, and real estate. RFPs protect against reps.

[25:09] Group Dynamics is the second topic. There are several influencers on a buying committee, but the main one to convince is ‘the bully with the juice.’ This dominant person is not afraid to go against the flow. Steve explains how they buy.

[32:09] Vendor Market Position Advantages is the third topic. Buyers don’t care if you are the first, second, third, or lower in your industry market, just so your name is known. Buyers do not like unknown quantities.

[36:39] Topic four is Websites. Topic five is Selling Style. Buyers prefer friendly, moderately knowledgeable reps over personally cold, highly knowledgeable reps, and charismatic but unknowledgeable reps. Fit your approach to the buyer.

[42:23] Topic six is Buyer’s Regret. Buyer’s remorse is largely not the salesperson’s fault. Steve asked buyers to explain their buyer’s remorse. He found 10 root causes, and 70% of the time, the root cause was an action of the buyer.

[44:54] It is critical to manage expectations throughout the process, and especially, right after the contract for a complex order is signed, so there is mutual understanding of the deal, and no confusion. Buyers have a short attention span.

August 24, 2017

#550. Account-based Orchestration for B2B Sales. With Srihari Kumar.

Srihari Kumar, CEO of ZenIQ, and AI-driven account-based orchestration system, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[2:37] Srihari says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps in B2B today is that data is being collected, but not organized, and at the fingertips of the reps. He called Salesforce a logpile, full of data that’s not being examined.

[4:18] Data often feeds our confirmation bias. The underlying assumptions need to be understood. We need the correct tools. Srihari discusses AI that finds the next best account action to take. Salesforce Einstein is headed in that direction.

[6:09] There are two plans for AI in sales: do repetitive tasks and free up reps, or provide signals for reps to follow. Srihari talks of the Gartner Hype Cycle: peak of inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, and the plateau of productivity.

[8:07] AI will not do the selling. Reps need to learn how to sell. There is a balance between massive data processing and sales informed by data. Srihari gives a concrete use case for AI data processing.

[10:41] Practical uses for AI do not involve inserting it between the rep and the customer. Srihari is still skeptical of automated email, but has seen convincing demos.

[12:48] Srihari founded a marketing automation company and sold it to CallidusCloud. He led the marketing division. It was marketing in a silo by automating leads. Next, came Marketing and Sales orchestration to buying centers, with multiple tools.

[15:22] ZenIQ is the result of building, from the ground up, an account hub and a people hub; one system of truth about all account data and external data, about people, companies, and activities. On top is the AI Next Best Account Action layer.

[16:50] Marketing and Sales Orchestration includes individual execution systems, such as ads, Marketing, and SDR emails, calling, and so on, all tied into one orchestration layer using a unified account view across the systems. Srihari explains it.

[19:18] Srihari, talks about software finding the right match for the person you want to contact, below the CXO.

[22:44] Marketing Automation is not moving the needle on B2B and SaaS sales. Srihari discusses ABM as it has changed since before automation. Srihari says orchestration is the missing piece.

[26:53] Sales technologies ought to be able to take a company to the next step. The tools need to be used to their best effect. The top companies have the right tools, but the smaller companies cannot afford all the pieces of the stack.

[29:30] Tools should help the buyer to make a better decision. All the emphasis is on how the tools help the seller. Srihari suggests there are tools for buying centers to access better data for their research. AI gets you to the buying center.

August 21, 2017

#547. How to Build Your Authority with Effective PR. With Josh Elledge.

Josh Elledge, Founder of upendPR and Chief Executive of SavingsAngel, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:20] Josh says the single biggest challenge that salespeople face today is getting out of our own way. It’s so important to adhere to a script or a system based scientifically on what works, with authenticity, for the customer.

[3:14] It’s an open question how much sales has improved from the “old school.” Customer-centric selling has long been a topic. Business selling has to be about the prospect. We may not be evolving fast enough in that direction.

[6:06] SavingsAngel was launched 10 years ago to cut the family’s grocery bill by coupons and sales. It is an automated data site, building membership through PR. Josh used PR firms to promote it, but they all failed him.

[10:27] Because Josh felt traditional PR methods were ineffective, he started upendPR as an anti-PR type of firm, to use current marketing methods. They have a great success rate for their clients.

[11:31] Andy hired a reputable PR firm for the release of one of his books, and paid big money for no results. Facebook can calculate the predicted return on an advertising investment. But a PR campaign isn’t an advertising campaign.

[12:45] The number one job of a business is to grow.  Network with influencers and serve large audiences. The more you give, the more they will want to reciprocate, and the more they will look to you for value, and engage for a deeper dive.

[18:26] Josh contrasts PR with social sharing. The best way to get the respect of influencers is to be an influencer. Build yourself into the position of being an authority. An unknown running ads on Facebook will not be noticed. PR is the path.

[20:18] Radio, blogs, print all may reach your targeted client. Traditional media sources are hungry. Approach writers in industry publications. Josh discusses PR placement (instances where you get quoted). People want to be part of a movement.

[26:17] There is a playbook for startups to build their brand, and it usually neglects PR. Effective PR builds your authority.

August 20, 2017

#546 Keep Your Sales as Simple as Possible. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[:53] Wake up each day telling yourself it’s a fantastic day! Start your day with a smile.

[2:27] Do you prefer treadmills or running outdoors? Does the weather make the choice for you?

[3:58] The topic is whether we are over complicating sales. The human connection is the key in any methodology. As in soccer, the fundamentals win the game, or the deal.

[6:03] Process may obscure the buying journey. When Andy reads a sales book, as he does for every author guest he interviews, the “gold” he finds is in the small stuff, not in big concepts. It’s all about human interactions.

[8:30] Bridget may not find a new concept in a book, but often finds timely reminders that relate to her current situations.

[9:20] The sales process is necessary, like “table stakes.” The differentiators are more nuanced, and are personal to the sales professional. They are independent from the process. [10:43] Many guests on Accelerate market the importance of the process. To compare sales to golf, you can learn all you want about the swing; the action takes place where the clubface squarely meets the ball. That will not change.

[12:06] Lessons in the fundamentals are more relevant than tools and trends. «Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.» (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) Humans are fundamentally unchanged since sales began.

[15:02] In episode #432 the topic was relationships. It goes back to that. People buy from people. Bridget is in the majority of buyers, in optimizing buying around trust.

[16:27] There is no sale without a connection. Andy created a mnemonic acronym for the fundamentals: BALD — Be present, Ask great questions, Listen without judgment, and Delivervalue.

[19:00] Being present means not being distracted. Listening without judgment means letting the buyer disclose who they are. Don’t categorize them without knowing them. Don’t allow your confirmation bias to fool you. People are unique.

August 10, 2017

#536. Use AI on Sales Calls to Increase Rep Productivity. With Sabrina Atienza.

Sabrina Atienza, Founder and CEO of, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:27] Sabrina says the single biggest challenge sales reps are facing is an increased pressure in ramping quickly, combined with leaving companies faster than ever. Onboarding is increasingly difficult, as people switch companies all the time.

[5:10] Qurious is an AI platform that provides real-time feedback during sales calls. Questions, objections, or competitor references can be detected live, and useful bullet points are supplied for the rep to use in response.

[6:42] Qurious builds playbooks out of analysis of calls by ‘A players.’ Qurious gives accurate objective analysis of responses to triggers, better than the rep would remember them, if they had to report the conversation as it occurred.

[8:18] The Qurious playbooks are used in coaching to teach what questions to ask to get the most informative responses. Questions, trial closes, and transitioning are in the playbook.

[9:45] Qurious provides real-time suggestions on the rep’s screen, while they are engaging with the prospect on the phone, based on interpreting what the prospect says.

[10:07] Sabrina talks about the issue of focus. Some reps like to see a block of text. Others want bullet points. Each rep can personalize the appearance on the screen for optimal reading.

[12:04] One of the nudges is for the rep to stop talking. It is a customizable length of time, such as 60 seconds, up to five minutes. A rambling warning comes up. Qurious measures the ratio of rep to prospect talking, also, and tallies it at the end.

[14:17] It is difficult to determine what ‘A players’ do, that make them ‘A players,’ but Qurious’s analysis shows they already have a repeatable playbook. The variation in what reps say increases as they become lower performers.

[16:09] Qurious focuses the real-time feedback on reps that are new, onboarding, or struggling. ‘B players’ are enabled with data they can act upon, that comes from successful calls.

[19:20] The tools will help reps, if they are curious. If the rep doesn’t accept the proven input, that may need addressing by a manager.

[23:39] With AI you can A/B test messages across a range of reps. It is important for reps to come up with a playbook that works repeatedly for them, so ‘B players’ become ‘A players.’

[25:20] SDR churn is an industry problem. Getting a rep to success faster by reducing onboarding time is a great morale booster. Companies can take action on this today.

August 3, 2017

#529. Using Automation to Enhance the Human Element of Sales. With Kyle Porter.

Kyle Porter, CEO and Founder of SalesLoft, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!


[2:36] Kyle says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is distraction. They are distracted from the mission and what’s important. Reps must protect their time and engage in things that add value, but not be swayed by new shiny objects.

[4:52] In an organization that doesn’t have a set process, reps need to find their own way immediately. In an organization too strictly tied to the process reps have no leeway to find their own way.

[5:42] AI in sales is happening. Great AI makes salespeople more human. In sales, the human-to-human interaction is always needed.

[7:20] Kyle distinguishes between machine learning and process automation. SalesLoft, for example, logs emails into CRM, to free the rep’s time for prospect engagement. It does not analyze the email content to make decisions from it.

[9:08] SalesLoft uses advancements in technology to accelerate what sales reps do, by removing barriers to managing large lists of accounts. The rep prescribes SalesLoft actions to be triggered by specific events, and is notified to act.

[10:46] The mechanization of process tasks permits following the strategy more closely. Then the process can be measured, and sales success measured more accurately. It allows tweaking over time, based on the outcomes.

[11:58] The human portion of the strategy — person talking to person — is still unique. No two salespeople perform exactly the same way. Kyle notes that reps using a mechanized process have more time to engage, so they improve.

[17:41] Kyle says SalesLoft SDRs spend more time engaging than the industry average, because that’s the product they sell, so they’d better be good at it.

[18:20] There are many things SalesLoft can do. But all you need is to programs in the process you want to use, without sacrificing the authenticity of communication.

[20:45] Kyle notes some of the more complex features of AI in sales, and how they empower the salesperson. AI is just getting started.

[27:51] Close rates are so low because qualification is so mis-applied. Everyone wants more leads, but the leads they get are not the right ones, and the reps are not following up with them properly.

[29:43] Follow up is still a problem. Kyle says, “Not our customers.” Reps must manage all the contact points necessary. That’s what SalesLoft does.

August 2, 2017

#528. How to Fix the Failing Sales Model. With Jacco vanderKooij.

Jacco vanderKooij,  Founder and CEO of Winning by Design, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[3:56] Jacco says the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals is that they are unable to execute a proper sales process consistently. The process depends mostly on artistry.

Sales organizations are failing, and they have weak processes.

[6:32] Jacco notes that a procedure is not necessarily a sales process. A process is doing something that is proven to work, and doing more of it, while stopping what doesn’t work.

[8:11] Jacco Prepared a Prezi on the new sales process, “The Art of Making Love,” or doing sales right over and over again. If you don’t have any customers that ‘love’ you, you have not been doing it right.

[10:28] Jacco recently showed the Prezi at an event, “Flying Upside-Down.” People from various disciplines presented for startup founders.

[12:08] Jacco says to think of SaaS sales as a technology that has had no innovation over the past decade. Nothing has changed in the predictable revenue model in 10 years. It persistently fails today. Now we need an innovation.

[14:07] New tools have not produced increased levels of performance. A two-touch sales organization doesn’t work. Jacco explains the reasons. He calls it the triangle of death.

[18:29] Jacco urges changing from sales-centric to customer-centric. SaaS will evolve. Revenue is made as the customer is successful. The sales mindset is outdated. Think Committing, not closing; Trading, not negotiating.

[23:07] The trade in the heart of sales is the customer’s time for the salesperson’s value. Most business should come in the customer success system. The salesperson should work to make the customer happy. That flips the current model.

[24:25] Sales is service. Jeff Bezos said, “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.” The methodology must become customer-centric: experiences, not stages.

[28:11] The experiences are emotional steps. Salespeople need to recognize what experience the customer is having to know how to educate them. Don’t go to a pitch. Guide and inform.

[32:10] Jacco uses TALKER as an acronym for Tone, Ask questions, Listen actively, Keeping notes, Elaborate on the conversation, Repeat what you’ve heard. Don’t let there be problems from miscommunication.

[34:33] Qualification today is based on an old process. The salesperson gets all the value from BANT. The customer gets nothing. This needs to change. When organizations treat how they sell, as important as what they sell, then sales will work.

July 27, 2017

#522. How to Accelerate Sales with AI and Machine Learning. With Roy Raanani.

Roy Raanani, CEO and Co-Founder of, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:43] Roy says the biggest challenge facing sales teams is how often things are changing, so, how fast they can learn, adapt and get that learning into the process.

[3:02] Many of the ideas for process change come from individuals up through management to the C-suite, and if there is buy-in, back down throughout the organization. This needs to happen quickly, to match changing circumstances.

[3:40] came to be through the combination of the right technology and Roy’s experience in sales. Chorus focuses on reps’ conversations with prospects. The gap to fill was in knowing and documenting the content of conversations.

[6:31] Hearing the call gives clarity on what happens. This opens the way for analysis and next steps. Something to ask about competitors: “What other solutions are you looking at?” Most reps don’t ask this.

[8:24] uses of machine learning. It gets smarter with more data. It gets better at identifying patterns and prediction. It identifies patterns in conversations to close deals effectively.

[12:47] looks for the signal among the noise, to point out points of interest where a human follow-up would be needed. This supports managers who cannot listen to every call. The learning algorithms are evolving. The data is there.

[15:40] Roy shares key findings of research on discovery calls, from analysis of over 500K calls, measuring talk-to-listen ratio, number of questions, engaging questions, and so forth. There were some surprising insights about win rates.

[20:41] Asking too many questions, too quickly, tends to shut down the prospect. Open-ended questions work best early on. Factual questions that do not engage can be saved for another time, or the demo.

[22:32] Roy and Andy discuss the proper time for the demo, and why some reps rush it too early. They are just “checking the box,” in the playbook. Discovery is continual.

[29:12] Trish Bertuzzi writes about rep’s concern about sunk costs that prevents a rep from admitting a deal will not close. [30:33] There was something missed early on that indicates whether this customer is on track to make a decision. Roy notes that the data in the Chorus dashboards shows how effective the discovery stage has been.

[31:59] Discovery still focuses on pain points. This is not engaging to the customer. The customer is engaged by discussion on their goals, and plans. Focus discovery on aspirations.