Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
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.

August 28, 2017

#554. A New Approach to Ongoing Sales Training. With Conner Burt.

Conner Burt, COO at Lessonly, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:48] Conner says the single biggest challenge facing SaaS sales reps today is that buyers are inundated with requests to review software, which leads to a wide variety of tools within organizations. Sellers fight for priority for their category.

[4:02] Conner says sales training for larger organizations is broken, in part from all the departments with different needs demanding attention from sales. The challenge is to combine the needs into a way to help a sales rep be more productive.

[5:26] Organizations tend to overestimate their onboarding and training effectiveness. Training gets put on a back burner behind many other sales management functions.

[7:36] Sales rep productivity is stagnant. The annual expenditure on sales in the U.S. is $92 billion. Conner talks about Hubspot and The Sales Acceleration Formula. The idea was to make individual reps better, not to hire more reps.

[9:45] The disincentive to invest in sales training is the suspicion they are training reps for the next company. Sales development reps have a job tenure of 12 to 18 months. If they were trained, they might stay. Develop talent in-house.

[11:42] Hire with the intent of building a bench, to promote. Turnover may go down when the reps feel like they have a path, and you’re investing in them for the future.

[13:32] Conner discusses the history and mission of Lessonly. Conner describes what sparked its development. Lessonly focuses on helping teams drive better performance through learning topics that matter most to customer-facing sellers.

[17:11] Trainers have access to the authoring component, and reps have access to the lessons in an easy to use form, either through Salesforce, or a stand-alone app, and through a Chrome extension.

[18:14] Conner gives an example of a company using Lessonly. They invest in the content, pulling it from executives, sales enablement, and top reps. They organize it, make it relevant, and the reps engage. Managers give ongoing assignments.

[20:20] The primary model gives a lesson, a practice scenario to record, and then later, correlates the specific training with future performance. The first goal is to decrease ramp time.

[22:42] Conner suggests his clients note how long it takes a rep to get to 80% of a fully productive revenue quota or number of closed opportunities. For an SDR, it is number of demos.

[24:19] The key to moving the needle on quota is getting an organization to prioritize seller development. From there, get insights from the better reps and managers, and SDRs, and synthesize them into a training program.

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.

May 18, 2017

#461. Improve Call Coaching with Intelligent Call Summaries. With Amit Bendov.

Amit Bendov, CEO and Co-Founder of, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

[2:30] Amit has a computer science degree, but concentrates on Sales, marketing, and leadership. is the fourth company he has led with great success. He reveals what led to the beginning of — looking for the key facts of a call.
[7:23] works with phone calls. They plan to apply the same concepts to field sales calls in the future.
[8:01] Amit sees the amount of activities preventing managers from having the time to coach field salespeople, as the biggest problem in sales. Reps learn by trial and error. If they are lucky, they are successful. There is no information exchange.
[9:16] makes it easy to provide coaching advice. All calls are automatically recorded, transcribed, and indexed, with the interesting parts highlighted, and then are shared with the right people.
[10:24] Any platform communication, phone, GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc, is recorded.
[12:32] Transcribing the call gives the AI better access for identification of parties and topics. The distilled information from the call is what is distributed to managers. Amit tells the factors that are counted in the distilled summary version.
[15:19] Amit discusses linguistic cues picked up by That is the “secret sauce” in it, from the science of linguistics.
[17:28] Within 5-10 minutes of the end of the call, the summary is sent to the rep and to the manager. If you use email, you can use The calls are indexed and can be searched for keywords, topics, specific questions, etc.
[20:53] requires no process change, but it is a great trigger for playbook changes. A/B testing of topics is easy.
[24:09] can provide clips of dialogs that had great success, and the manager can share these snippets with reps.
[25:05] captures examples of how to ask the question, not just the gist of it. Also, the rep can review their own calls, and see where they could improve, and what they did well. tracks filler words, as well, to help you eliminate them.
[29:46]’s ideal client profile is tech companies with at least 10 salespeople in the U.S. VPs of sales are the buyer. will expand to other industries.

April 26, 2017

#442. How to Fix Corporate Sales Training. With Ray Makela.

Ray Makela, Chief Customer Officer of the Sales Readiness Group, a leading B2B sales and sales management training company, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[1:44] Customers are more engaged before the salesperson is involved, and more salespeople are competing for the same dollar. So, the biggest challenge facing sales professionals today, is to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way.

[2:43] Ray gives advice on engagement; knowing the prospect’s business issues before contacting them; and with that understanding, offering meaningful value that helps the prospect to move forward.

[3:51] You want the prospect to come away from your conversation with new insights into their business needs, and the interest to act on them. How will this differentiate you from your competition?

[7:27] Ray makes two claims: first, we do not ask the right questions to know whether we are getting our ROI on sales training, and, second, we sometimes make training the end goal, rather than the means to attain a goal.

[8:50] For the $2.2B that is spent annually on sales training, what should be a reasonable return? Are we satisfying the objectives for which the expenditure was planned? Are we spending enough, compared to compensation?

[12:10] Know the executive stakeholders behind the sales training, and involve them in defining the problem, planning the training, and following up on the outcomes.

[13:32] After the training event, where are the reinforcement and the follow up? Training is a mechanism for behavior change. What behaviors do you need to change, and how do you know they have been changed effectively?

[15:27] Sales Readiness Group workshops include a commitment from each participant on what they are going to do, and awareness of how they will be tested on doing it. Managers have accountability to go out on coaching calls.

[17:04] What is the reason companies cut back on training? What is the true cost of ineffective training? We need to look at how to train successfully, even if it takes more resources and time. Consider virtual classrooms and mobile learning.

[19:16] The fundamentals have to be present. Athletes practice the fundamentals every day. If sales professionals have to practice in front of the customer, that’s a really expensive way to do training!

[24:36] Ray talks again about stakeholders being responsible to oversee development, and to engage managers to be accountable for the success of their team. The manager needs to be the chief training officer for their team.

[27:59] Devoting work time to professional development sets the tone for its importance to the company, and strengthens the culture of engagement.

April 18, 2017

#435. Frame a Message That Resonates with Buyers. With Barbara Giamanco.

Barbara Giamanco, a Keynote speaker, coauthor of the great book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, and podcaster, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!


[:51] Barbara’s company is Social Centered Selling, in Atlanta, originally focusing on helping organizations develop their strategy around implementing social media into their selling practice, and now, helping frame the entire buying experience.

[2:08] The biggest challenge for sales reps is in framing a message that resonates with what the buyer cares about. Barbara notes how management could improve rep training.

[3:03] Barbara says reps need to research their client and their client industry’s trends and pain points, to know many pertinent facts before engaging a contact. What problems interfere with this rep behavior?

[4:41] Barbara notes that very few colleges provide a degree in sales. To make matters worse, 40% of organizations are not onboarding sales staff with consultative training on sales skills. Kennesaw State University offers an amazing sales curriculum.

[8:04] Students coming from the Kennesaw curriculum are hired quickly, and hit the ground running with top skills. What does Barbara suggest to encourage additional colleges to pick up the sales curriculum?

[10:18] Barbara considers generational issues, such as the Millennial’s aversion to the phone. A sale doesn’t come from a Tweet! Inside Sales reps that are not trained may damage the company brand instead of bringing in profit.

[12:49] People need more training in how to researching industries, trends, challenges, and pain points, and how to spin that into a contact’s accepting a meeting. Quality of outreach is more important than quantity of emails sent.

[18:21] Salespeople call Barbara and ask her to tell them about her business. No. Look on LinkedIn before you call. Look at causes, charities, interests, and company focus. Don’t waste the contact’s time, and don’t roll right into the pitch.

[21:49] New technologies enable more phone calls, but it’s the quality of conversation you have when somebody picks up the telephone that counts, and that is a big gap in skill. Barbara has advice for managers.

[24:40] Harassing by email is not welcome. Don’t ask why someone didn’t respond. They didn’t respond because you didn’t offer them value that resonated with them.

[26:31] Organizations need to evaluate their processes. Hiring more salespeople to make the same errors will not move the needle for an organization. Quality plus quantity is needed. People are buying from people. See Google’s ZMOT theory.

[33:35] Individual salespeople can make a commitment to change the buyer’s perception. Don’t let the buyer lead you down the path. Learn what they need, and how you can help them.

March 29, 2017

Process and Execution Rule in B2B Selling. With Tibor Shanto. #418

Joining me once again on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Tibor Shanto, author, speaker, trainer, and sales expert.


[2:00] Tibor offers training, speaking, and coaching, and he writes. He helps B2B companies get new business through process and execution. “Everything else is just talk.”

[3:56] Tibor comments on research about social media influence on B2B. Is the research relevant and reliable?

[6:11] Some buyers enter the market on their own. Some do not, unless approached; and they may not be on social media.

[10:23] When you start content marketing, what happens when you run out of content? Tibor shares his experiences. [12:46] Tibor does not seek pain points. What does he focus on, instead? How does he help prospects become buyers?

[16:24] ‘A’ players use tools to boost their success. ‘B’ and ‘C’ players hope tools will make them ‘A’ players. “‘C’ players should be seeking employment in the hospitality industry.”

[20:41] A robust sales process that is followed, serves as a platform for coaching, hiring, and individual success.

[23:29] Managers need to spend more time coaching their B players. 75% of their time should be coaching, but rarely is.

[29:02] Some sales behaviors and traits can be taught. Can passion be taught? How does process help sales?

[34:00] Statistics vary about buyers, regarding who initiates, and who is brought into the process. Embrace both types.

[38:25] Sales complexity increases from the technology and apps being thrown at the reps to ‘help them.’ They hinder more than help. Look for helpful tech, not just new tech.

[40:44] Tibor notes that tech doesn’t make the sale, but it does help reach the buyer. Learn to sell first, and tools can help.


March 16, 2017

How to Optimize Your Sales Effectiveness. With Manny Medina. #407

Manny Medina, is CEO of


[:47] Manny was a telco software developer. He moved to Amazon, then to Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and then, sales.

[1:40] Manny founded GroupTalent, as the main salesperson. They developed internal outreach software, but customers wanted the software, not their service. So he began Outreach.

[2:42] The declining number of hours reps spend selling is the biggest problem Manny sees in sales. Why has it declined?

[4:50] Could CRM syncing take less sales time? Manny also has ideas for getting real-time client information to salespeople. What can be automated in communication?

[7:30] As sales is a process, Manny asks, for each action, what is the value of that action relative to the expected outcome. How do you optimize your time to be most effective?

[9:02] Marketing Automation provides customers with a lot of information before they buy. Salespeople should have a lot of information about the customer’s persona, and the individual contact, and engage them to fit their needs.

[12:55] In B2B sales, you need to know the structure of the prospect firm. Who are the influencers, who makes the decision, and what value proposition engages each contact?

[15:30] How can you set up your system so that when your automated message is sent to the contact, it lands at the right place and time to work? When should you use testing?

[17:55] The sales process has two issues: how well does the process fits the prospects, and are people well-trained to have the right conversations to engage with the prospect? What message resonates with each persona?

[22:16] Sales process training is largely ineffective, and, when effective, it fades in the absence of continued follow-up. When works with a client, they check for a process; if it’s being followed; and lastly, if the results are being measured.

[26:36] Manny cites Bill Walsh’s The Score Takes Care of Itself, about a standard of performance, that when followed, produce repeatable results. SaaS needs a repeatable process.

[29:01] What relationship does Manny see between quota attainment, and CRM roll-out? Are shops actually using their CRM? How can fit into the process?

February 23, 2017

How to Quickly Qualify Your Prospects. With Sean Burke. #389

Joining me once again on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Sean Burke, CEO of KiteDesk. Among the topics that Sean and I discuss are the problems sales professionals have today with prospects going dark, how prospects should be more fully qualified before the reps spend too much of their time, and the NOTE process for qualifying, explaining, and closing deals.


[:52] Sean started sales with his mother at age 12, selling burglar alarms. His mother trained him well how to make money. KiteDesk is his ninth early-stage venture, in sales and marketing, for revenue generation; sometimes as the CEO.

[2:11] Sean sees sales reps struggling to find out what’s going on inside the buyer’s walls. There are so many influencers. Often, the prospect just goes dark, and you never know why.

Andy suggests this is a failure of qualification and discovery.

[4:15] Sean looks for landmines, to plan pre-emptively for them, such as budgets, product releases, or other projects demanding resources.

[5:40] Sean sees a lot of surprises he didn’t see in the 90s. Andy attributes these changes to technology, and behaviors related to new technologies.

[6:29] Sean sees BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) as outdated for new companies. (It still works for IBM.) Sean has come up with NOTE (Need, Opportunity, Team, Effect) to qualify leads based on the buyer’s needs.

[8:25] Sean was trying to find a way to make the discovery process extremely valuable, especially the buyer, and to be responsive and efficient with the time spent with buyers.

[12:29] Sean refers to Anthony Iannarino’s book where he said that if you’re in sales, you’re focused on outcomes. Sean wanted to lead with outcomes, not features or benefits.

[12:55] If the client doesn’t Need the outcome of the benefit of your product for the cost to implement it, then there is no qualified lead. Tell them there’s no good fit here. Either they will rethink their need, or you will save everyone a lot of time.

[14:52]  Some of the need is philosophical. Sean refers to the ‘find your why’ works of Simon Sinek. It’s great to find a company in synch with your philosophy.

[15:51] Opportunity is a pressing requirement. Is the need great enough to attack now? Sean uses a scoping method to determine ROI, and asks, does the proposed solution justify the expense? This gives the prospect a way to qualify in or out.

[19:49] Team is composed of multiple stakeholders with a sense of urgency. Defining who is impacted by the opportunity helps the client qualify themselves for the deal. There is also a team defined of the influencers involved to get to “yes.”

[24:33] Effect is the experienced value of the product or service to the buyer. It is not the opportunity. The full opportunity doesn’t result on Day 1. The effect is developing the working plan to get through the process and track it for success.