Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
October 13, 2017

#583. Should You Be Certified to Sell B2B? With Bridget Gleason.

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


[4:01] Andy starts the 101st episode of Front Line Fridays with the topic of professional certification for salespeople and sales managers. It’s time to embrace it as an industry.

[4:47] It can help in hiring and has value to buyers looking for knowledgeable reps as trusted advisors. Bridget has started a certification program at SMEI has been offering sales and marketing executive certifications for 80 years.

[6:39] Will employers start to ask for certifications as a prerequisite for employment? Bridget always looks for people who have had professional sales training.

[8:53] SMEI is starting to work with universities to certify coursework they are starting to offer for sales, to start graduates toward their own certification. Would one certification cover all current methodologies?

[10:01] SMEI focuses on certifying people on the fundamental enduring principles of sales, rather than certifying on the methodologies. There is an on-the-job experience component required, as well.

[10:53] Bridget agrees such certifications would be useful. Andy would like to see a standardized certification,  that employers could specify in their job postings, rather than seeing individual companies create their own certificates.

[14:07] Bridget says yes. Now, who will do it? Is there a movement? Andy hears more talk about it, including colleges starting to offer degrees in sales. Bridget used to hire interns from a college in Ohio for BDRs to work for SumoLogic.

[17:23] The issue in sales today is that it is very risky to hire new people. Anything that can reduce the risk is a welcome step towards the ultimate answer. An MBA does not qualify a salesperson to sell.

[19:50] Andy has talked to the CEO of SMEI, who told him sales managers are hesitant to approach their CEOs to take a certification course. They are unwilling to bring up what might be considered their lack of qualification or their need of help.

October 11, 2017

#582 The Uniquely Human Behaviors We Need in Sales. With Geoff Colvin.

Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor at Large, Fortune Magazine, and the New York Times bestselling author of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[5:43] Geoff says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is fully understanding and appreciating the degree to which they are threatened by technology. Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, 20% of B2B sales jobs will be eliminated. [8:14] The single largest employment of males in America is truck driving. Driving is threatened by technology. An autonomous truck has already made a commercial delivery.

[11:01] The industrial revolution put artisans out of work. The arrival of electricity put education in the forefront. The technological revolution is now lessening the strength of a college education, as knowledge work is being automated.

[14:24] Employers require administrators to have college degrees but college skills are not needed for administrative tasks. AI technology now does what young lawyers used to do — discovery of documents — better, faster, and cheaper.

[17:18] Law school grads are hunting for jobs. The meaning of being a great performer has changed. Technology can do the repetitive work, and even more complex work. Instead of being more machine-like, we need to relate more humanly.

[19:19] To look into someone’s eyes is the key to creating value. Talking face-face with someone literally synchronizes both brains. Turning away stops the synchronization. Various visual cues combine to build trust.

[21:03] In SaaS, close rates are not very good. SDRs burn through hundreds of thousands of leads to get the deals. Andy suggests for high-value deals, get on the plane and meet the contact. Conferences are becoming more important.

[23:03] Oxford Economics reports that employers will be looking for more right-brain employees in the next few years. Other research shows that empathy is trending down among students. These are skills needed for teams and leaders.

[26:57] The greater value an employer puts on empathy, the greater value it is to hire women for those roles. Geoff talks to students and asks whether men or women are better at deep human interaction. He gets one answer.

[28:17] Training and ongoing education of sellers has to focus on these selling habits of building relationships, not on tactical skills. Some employers think people cannot be trained in these skills, or don’t know how to train for them.

[30:39] These skills, added to product knowledge and customer knowledge, are your path to a long career in sales. Knowledge is being commoditized, but skills of engagement are still uniquely human. It’s all how you sell, not what you sell.

[32:38] These capabilities are in us. We can change our habits to build relationships. “Just think of what we’re being asked to do — to become more essentially human, to be the creatures we once were and were always meant to be.” — Geoff Colvin.



This month we are celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of Accelerate! Accelerate! has been downloaded well over one million times and recognized twice by Inc.! Andy would like to hear from you about your favorite episode, guest, or topic. See the complete list of episodes at Leave Andy a message about your favorite episode to receive a free signed copy of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions, by Andy Paul. You will need to provide your physical mailing address to receive the book.


October 6, 2017

#580. Our 100th Show. What’s changed in sales since #1? With Bridget Gleason.

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


[5:00] This is 100th episode of Front Line Fridays — almost two years to the day. There have been changes. Bridget is at her second job in the same industry. AI, machine learning, and sales stacks have grown along with Account-Based Everything.

[9:21] Andy would like a better understanding of the ROI of these tools. Are we closing more deals than without them? We can’t go back to the time before the tools because the environment and the tools have changed for everyone.

[11:15] The tools continue to evolve. We haven’t brought the customer into the process yet, with tools to help them make the decision. Bridget wonders what those tools would look like, besides the internet they already access.

[12:51] Sales Enablement tools provide content to the salesperson to send to the customer, but is all focused on the sales process, not the buying process. Some of the tools help the prospect by helping the rep identify good candidates.

[14:49]  Andy suggests that content management and asset management are managing a greater quantity of content that is differentiated less and less by piece because there is so much of it. Bridget asks what has not changed in two years.

[16:06] Andy was in a conversation online recently about all the me-too content. The other party wants to see something new. Person-to-person interaction will not change much, but all people will still be impacted by changing technologies.

[17:11] We need more conversations about the changes technology will bring, instead of another conversation about giving a good demonstration, writing an effective subject line, or making sure you don’t pitch before asking questions.

[17:33] Andy feels we haven’t changed the conversation about sales enough to prepare people for the changes to come. The basics are worth reading about, but who are the new tech experts sales reps should hear — besides Front Line Fridays?

[18:47] Andy recalls that Front Line Fridays had episodes early on with subject matter expert recommendations. Maybe it’s time to do more of that regularly. Curating the information that’s out there is a service.

[20:20] Bridget talks about hiring. Great salespeople are always hard to recruit because they’re already at a great company. Bridget has a VC who helps her to recruit. The hiring process seems time-compressed but Bridget won’t be rushed.

[23:58] Andy compares Bridget hiring to a buyer. If a buyer doesn’t get the information they need on time, they don’t buy. Sometimes the hiring agent doesn’t know just what they need.

[25:11] Andy again compares that to the buyer’s journey. It’s impossible to map because it changes as they go along it. Even when you address the right contact, they may not be educated enough about their need to know what they need.

September 29, 2017

#577. Why Empathy Matters. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[2:04] This episode is about empathy. Andy quotes Meg Bear, “Empathy is the critical 21st Century skill.” As selling becomes automated, the ability to connect in an authentic fashion becomes highly valued. Society has a shortage of empathy.

[4:23] Bridget and Andy discuss whether empathy is rewarded in business. Bridget has never seen a job description for a VP of Sales that called for empathy. People hire for the number. If empathy is not present though, success will not be long-term.

[9:29] Andy reveals the one question a customer will never ask a Sales Manager: Will you make sure my rep is really salesy? They do want someone dynamic and inspirational, with some degree of empathy for their situation.

[10:38] In early-stage startups there is more need for aggressiveness. Bridget says that culture gets embedded early, and if empathy is not a core value of the Founders, it will not develop in the company. Trust and empathy go together.

[13:36] Andy cites Stephen M.R. Covey, who says empathy is necessary to develop trust. Recent research says empathy in college students is decreasing over the last few decades. It may relate to engagement with screens rather than people.

[15:39] Empathy is fading in the national discourse. Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Andy quotes Michelle Norris “We are losing the ability to actively listen and therefore to engage in deep and meaningful conversation.”

[17:49] Salespeople engage with an increasing number of stakeholders in various cultures around the world. If you can’t identify with them individually, you impede your ability to help them and win the sale. Bridget reflects on the team at

[19:53] Empathy is not stressed enough. Michael Bungay Stanier talks about the ability to listen without judgment. This is the critical skill. Understand them.

[22:20] Identify your own filters and make a mindful effort to set them aside. The sales process does not control the buyer. People tend to respond to influence, but each has their own reactions, emotions, and reasons.

[24:16] What does it take to develop empathy? It is a behavior that can be learned, but it takes mindfulness. Sales is a game for thinking people. Every action should be deliberate, not reactive. If we lack empathy, we should cultivate it.

[27:07] Continuous learning is not just about reading books but learning about ourselves, in personal growth. Society changes one person at a time. We all need to model empathy.

[28:45] People buy from people and the connection and trust is important. Empathy is key. Quoting Eric Shinseki, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” Empathy is a ‘gotta have.’


August 31, 2017

#557. How to Create Accurate and Realistic Sales Forecasts. With David Griffin.

David Griffin, CEO of Vortini, a sales forecasting system, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate


[2:33] David says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is that the level of competition increases quarterly, making it difficult to achieve predictable income. The buyer is also more informed, both on you and on your competition.

[4:32] Vortini came to be when David was doing sales data analytics. David wanted to specialize, as it is a crowded market. He looked for core business processes that were not well-supported with software solutions, and found forecasting.

[5:08] David sees heavy investments in CRM, and pipelines of opportunities. However, pipelines don’t tell the whole story for a solid forecast. Managers create spreadsheets, send them to opportunity owners, and get their forecasts a week later.

[7:20] Forecasts matter because revenue expectations must be met. SaaS has issues around staffing, and manufacturing has problems around inventory, if forecasts are inaccurate.

[9:34] Vortini takes data from the CRM, compares it to history, and considers collaboration for pipeline deliverability. Then it creates a scenario around the pipeline and resources.

[14:44] Andy cites Philip Tetlock, saying that we should train people to become better forecasters. It is a skill that can be learned. Vortini focuses on history and information available, to step through the assumptions that create a forecast.

[16:34] Reps are nervous about committing. Under-forecasting is as great an issue as over-forecasting. It can mean canceled orders if the goods or services are not available on time. Corporate forecasts are built from many smaller forecasts.

[18:22] Forecasting tip: first, ensure opportunities are realistic and achievable. The last day of the quarter is not a credible close date. Are targets set too high by management? Setting targets 15% higher this year than last is a hope, not a target.

[21:58] It is essential to manage biases. Don’t put the forecast in a spreadsheet. Keep it in the CRM, so forecasts and the quarterly results can be compared within the CRM. People can see their bias by looking at the evidence.

[24:24] Make sure you are staying connected to the overall plan. Are your quarterly forecasts supporting the annual forecast? David compares day 70 in history with day 70 of the quarter and day 70 of the forecast. Watch for going off track.

[27:17] It might be better to work on fewer opportunities, and do a better job on them. Carefully convert as many as possible. Don’t burn your way through them. They represent the base of future wealth to the company.

[30:09] The forecast that works uses machine learning to look at history and make defensible assertions about times to close. Forecasting does not say a quick close is impossible, but that it does not match past observed behaviors. Talk about it.

August 23, 2017

#549. Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams to Increase Your Revenue. With Hugh MacFarlane.

Hugh MacFarlane, originator of ‘The Buyer’s Journey,’ author of The Leaky Funnel, and Founder and CEO of Align.Me, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[3:11] Hugh says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is wanting to tell their story before the customer is ready to hear it, instead of hearing the buyer’s story, and letting that direct what to say to them. What’s the buyer’s idea?

[5:06] A rep must know what the customer already thinks. In the past, the rep was the source of knowledge. Today, the customer knows more about the product use case than the rep does. Marketing can supply the rep with info on the buyer.

[7:52] Sales and Marketing alignment is building a process together that both departments know, in which they both do their part. It does not require cross-training, but training specific to the role.

[11:22] Hugh compares alignment to a relay race. Reps don’t need to know how to write copy. They need to know prospects have been reading blogs and downloading white papers.

[12:19] Turf wars come from job insecurity over new technologies and processes. Working together serves the customer better. Hugh talks about the evolution of the process being an important factor in sales success.

[14:22] Hugh details the firmographics of two studies his firm did on Sales and Marketing alignment.

[16:16] Hugh was surprised by the results from the optimization of an aligned process. Sales reps are more likely to accept a marketing lead. Hugh notes the short life of a lead. Self-declared interest needs to be addressed the same day.

[21:20] When sales accepts more leads that will close, then both sales and marketing benefit from the improved results. A single, optimized process designed by both marketing and sales brings this result.

[22:37] Building a robust sales and marketing aligned process, and training both the marketers and reps, correlates with rises in acceptance, and closure, of late-stage opportunities.

[26:18] The data was not available on the quality of training in marketing and sales. The studies raised questions to explore. Some training appears to be an improvement over no training.

[28:36] Andy recently read an article comparing gender differences in sales, but there was little usable data. All reports have biases. Hugh’s research was looking for big differentiators. Alignment is the biggest they found.

[32:34] Organizations working for alignment adjust the process together. The driver for alignment in companies is when marketing and sales are not working together, and it shows. There are many voices making the case for alignment.


August 22, 2017

#548. 4 Cornerstone Habits That Drive Our Success. With Randall Bell

Randall Bell, CEO of the Landmark Research Group, and author of Me We Do Be: The Four Cornerstones of Success, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!


[2:22] Randall says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps or sales teams today is keeping it simple. Have a direct message that is simple, well thought-out, and to the point. It takes time and work to get to the simple messaging.

[6:08] Randall wrote his book after a career as an economist, traveling to disasters (WTC, BP oil spill, Chernobyl, etc.) to assess damages. The book is a formula for avoiding disaster and building success. He wrote it in 25 years of experience.

[8:43] Randall wrote, “Today’s habits are tomorrow’s destiny.” An ocean is filled with drops of water. Your daily habits add up. You build wealth a dollar at a time. Simple straightforward steps create authentic growth.

[9:56] Randall’s four cornerstones of life are Me (mindset), We (connections), Do (productivity), and Be (our future and legacy).

[11:20] Me refers to habits to improve the quality of your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Read to think more. Develop a mission and philosophy. Know and understand your feelings.

[12:33] Andy shares quotes on thinking and life. Randall recommends to leaders to take time in the early morning to develop their Me cornerstone, before the day’s distractions.

[14:48] Randall conducted a rich international survey of the four major English-speaking nations on success status and their daily habits, and correlated the habits with successes. He notes statistical success habits. (E.g., read, and be honest.)

[16:39] The survey was by self-assessment. There were some very direct questions on honesty and integrity. Andy’s father was a tremendous role model of integrity.

[18:02] We refers to building relationships. Randall ranks social capital higher than financial capital. Randall has a network of contacts all over the world, and they are critical to his work. He reciprocates as well.

[19:45] Randall’s success circle are 20-25 long-term contacts and friends who have been greatly successful. The advice they give is smart and reflects their success. We habits include being mindful of being kind. Watch your tone of voice. Wave.

[24:58] Randall explains social exchange. For every negative thing you say or do, say or do six positive things to counter it. Studies support a six-to-one balance of positive-to-negative to maintain social capital. Don’t create a bad first impression.

[28:05] Humility is another We habit. Authentic humility is attractive. A Type A personality needs to be mindfully humble. Randall talks about one of his humility heroes, Leo Fender.

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 18, 2017

#544. Books to Elevate Your Attitude and Change Your Behavior. With Bridget Gleason.

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


[2:45] This is a book episode! Bridget read What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan. There are lessons in failure. The book asks why someone stays in a losing position. Don’t tie your self-worth to external things.

[5:37] Research shows that specific direct goals are less attainable. Put some space between your personality and the ultimate achievement. This book was about a trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He learned to be resilient.

[7:23] Resilience is a trait of a sales professional who will endure and move on. Bridget looks for examples of resiliency in her interviews. It’s not indifference, but self-acceptance.

[9:16] Andy recommends Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, by
Geoff Colvin. It speaks directly to sales. The research on technology shows there will be changes, so provide value.

[11:11] Geoff Colvin states, “Look into someone’s eyes. That turns out to be metaphorically, and quite often, literally, the key to high-value work in the coming economy.” What is often missing in sales is face-to-face contact. Go visit your customer.

[13:12] Sales visits have to be used wisely, to contain cost. Andy used to visit overseas customers about once a quarter. Use travel strategically to make something happen. Consider the lifetime contract value. Group multiple calls in as trip.

[14:48] Bridget read The Halo Effect: . . . and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers, by Phil Rosenzweig. His premise is business thinking is shaped by delusion, such as assuming all aspects of a great company are equally great.

[16:58] Studies on successful companies like Google show we tend to underestimate the impact of luck, market conditions, and things outside the control of the company. The book notes the delusion of the single explanation.

[17:53] There are humans at the helm, executing plans and relying on chance. Avoid the hero cult. See past the halo effect.

[19:27] Increasingly our information is informed by Big Data. Andy refers to Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day, by John H. Johnson and
Mike Gluck. We err by shaping data to fit our world view.

[21:34] Pablo Mastroeni of the Colorado Rapids said, “Pundits … will look at possession … and … metrics that have very little to do with heart, and courage, and the commitment … The stats will lose to the human spirit, every day of the week.”

[25:11] Andy’s last book is The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales, by Anthony Iannarino. It’s about gaining customer commitments that each lead to the next step, all the way to the buying decision.