Episode 12: Caleb Sidel on moving from dev to sales, finding a niche, and more

Caleb SidelCaleb Sidel got a degree from Carnegie Mellon in computer science and mathematics. I don’t know if you can get an nerdier than that. 😉 (He also got a minor in French, which will come into play in a story at the end of the episode where Caleb remembers me not exactly representing Americans well in France.)
Caleb is a partner and co-founder at Strategic Growth Inc, a Salesforce.com implementation partner that has grown rapidly with a core of partners who are responsible for sales and technology. This means a somewhat different approach to sales (and sales training, as they grow the team). Caleb has a long, long list of Salesforce certifications that I won’t bore you with, but he’s deep into Apex code, the Salesforce API, and more.
In this episode, Caleb talks about moving “up the stack”, from implementing features for internal “clients”, to implementing features for external customers, to doing freelance consulting, to co-founding and growing a firm.
Caleb’s tips include:
  • How to find a niche from a technical perspective. We keep talking about the importance of a niche on this podcast, but what if you don’t know what your real market niche is. Caleb discusses why you can find a niche from the technical side in a way that defines your market niche for you.
  • Why all the partners at the firm have to sell (and keep up their tech chops).
  • The importance of passion, not just with your customers, but with your partners.
  • The really simple way they train their consultants to sell.

Plus, there’s that embarrassing story about me. 😉

Get the episode now on iTunes, listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.


Château Teyssier Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2012 bordeaux blend. Delicious. Very french, in a good way.

Where you can find Caleb:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.   Sites mentioned in the Episode:

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Episode 11: Brian Spross on Law, Lawyers, and More

Brian SprossBrian Spross got his degree in Mechanical Engineering, and he takes that meticulous approach to law. Brian’s firm specializes in law for tech firms, and I knew he loved wine, so I thought he’d be a great fit for the podcast.
After all, the legal aspects of business are critical to sales, but even more than sales, something that many technical founders don’t want to consider.
Brian provides some great tips, including:
  • When you need a lawyer.
  • How (relatively) inexpensive it is to set up a company, and why you must, must, must do this.
  • Why people don’t have good contracts in place (and what you can do about it).
  • How the “designed to…” approach from engineering is so useful in law and contracts.
  • Why your technical people need to read (at least) the technical parts of contracts and agreements.
  • Just because you got paperwork from a big, important company, doesn’t mean you have to sign it “as-is”.
  • Red flags for contracts that may cause problems down the road.
  • The simple way to pick your lawyer.

Plus, I recount the painful memory of the one time a client skipped out on an invoice.

Get the episode now on iTunes, listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.


The Wine

La Posta Malbec from Argentina, 2014. Another big red, but really nice and smooth as it breathes.


Where you can find Brian:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.


Sites mentioned in the Episode:

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Episode 10: Scott Ingram on the Path to Sales Success

Scott IngramScott Ingram is the host of the Sales Success Stories podcast, which I’ve been enjoying lately. Scott’s interviews bring a lot of very specific, tactical advice which is great for people who want details.
I’ve tried to follow Scott’s lead in getting specifics.
In this episode, Scott explains:
  • How he got great mentors to help him get his network administration consulting company off the ground.
  • How referrals help, but they can only take you so far.
  • Why you should pick a sales process– don’t try to invent one.
  • Why we often fear sales, and what we can do about it.
  • The importance of having a niche (yet again).
  • How he created a great, nerd friendly sales shortcut.
  • Why it’s easy to recall bad salesmen, but hard to recall good sales experience.
  • Why women are overrepresented among top sales performers.
  • The promise and peril of The Challenger Sale.
  • How to align your sales process to you, so you can sell authentically (and why this is so important)
  • The importance of planning and ritual, including Scott’s morning routine (starting at 4:30).
  • Why there’s no replacement for “time in the saddle”

Scott was also super helpful as a fellow podcaster, using his (much nicer) setup, so this should sound better than previous episodes, too.

Get the episode now on iTunes, or listen on Overcast.

2011 Hawks View Cellars California Syrah
The Wine

Hawk’s View Cellars Syrah, 2011. Big red, but very smooth as it opens up.



Where you can find Scott:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Books mentioned in the Episode:

The Sales for Nerds Episode with Adam Boyd from Sandler.

The Comodoro Technique, which Scott uses to help him plan.

Need Nudge (relationship app).

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Episode 9: Matthew Pollard on learning to sell

Matthew PollardMatthew Pollard (“The Rapid Growth Guy”) comes on Sales for Nerds to talk about how he learned to sell and become one of the top sales reps in Australia, despite being extremely introverted. He took an approach that seems so simple after he mentions it, but I hadn’t heard of anyone else doing sales “self-training” this way.
In this episode, Matt discusses:
  • How he taught himself to sell, including the steps of the sale, how to turn features into benefits, and how to close.
  • How he taught his team to sell.
  • “People hate to be sold to, but people love to buy.”
  • Why if you’re doing too much “hard core selling”, your message isn’t right.
  • Why introverts have a long term advantage in sales versus most extraverts. (And how to take that advantage.)
  • Why he puts the message first, even before the audience.
  • Why you need to turn features into benefits, and benefits into stories.
  • Why stories are so important.
  • What can I do above and beyond the core functional skills/services/products to give my customer an amazing experience.
  • Why you don’t want to spend tons of time writing “educational” proposals– it not only wastes your time, it decreases your chances of winning.
  • If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.
  • Practical steps on niching, including a real world example (and a meta-example of Matthew’s storytelling).
  • Why our brains are overwhelmed by input and we have to focus.
  • Focus on the people who love what you do– not the people you can never make happy.
  • Most people have been motivated by fear of not having enough money for most of their lives. They have a set of goals that are driven from here.
  • Why if you do what you love, there’s always more energy (as shown by Matthew in this interview after getting 4.5 hours of sleep).
  • The mistake people make in underestimating themselves.

Get the episode now on iTunes.

barahondaThe Wine

Senorio de Barahonda Sin Madera 2012– lots of pepper and blackberry and some licorice, but not in a bad way. Opens up nicely — although, as we note, it could really do with a steak or a lamb chop. 😉

Where you can find Matthew: Web site, @MatthewPollard_, LinkedIn. And here’s his growth exercise.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

p.s. Here’s Sydney Road, where Matthew started his sales career:

Sydney Road


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Episode 8: Erik Luhrs on Positioning

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs (“The Bruce Lee of Lead Generation”) He is the creator of Subconscious Lead Generation and GURUS Selling, and is the author of BE DO SALE. In this episode, Erik talks about how good positioning provides the foundation for successful sales (and how bad positioning ruins your sales efforts, even if you execute well).
Here are some key nuggets:
  • Why if you’re crashing into a (sales) wall, you don’t want to check the last 50 feet, you want to check your map.
  • Why you don’t want to try to make up for bad positioning with sales heroics.
  • If your market doesn’t appreciate differentiation, you’re in the wrong market, or you’re looking at the market the wrong way. (The majority of businesses that have problems are going after the wrong target market.)
  • If you have chosen the right target market— what’s different about your perspective?
  • Why you need to have a niche (sound familiar if you’ve listened to other episodes?), with some great examples.
  • People’s biggest problem is that they don’t know what they’re biggest problem is.
  • If they don’t understand their biggest problem, they’ll bring in the wrong solution to the wrong problem.
  • If you’re going to do the same stuff as everyone else, you don’t need to open your business.
  • Effective positioning doesn’t just attract the right prospects, it eliminates the wrong prospects, so you don’t waste time and energy on them.
  • Once again, how we are not rational creatures…
  • How he broke the single day sales record at Champs Sporting Goods when he was 17.



The toolkit Erik mentioned.

14pn_huntington_smThe Wine


Pali Wine Co Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 2014. Really nice jammy Santa Barbara pinot. 😉 (Erik had a Blue Moon.)


Where you can find Erik: Web site, @erikluhrs, LinkedIn

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 7: Ash Maurya on Scaling Lean

Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean, talks about how to build products and companies that matter, while minimizing risk. How can you systematically de-risk your business, so you can focus your limited time, money, and energy on what makes a difference. Whether your company sells products, services, or both, tune in, because Ash says, “Life’s too short to build products nobody wants.”

“Lean” has become a buzzword, and you may not know what it really means (or means to you). In this episode, Ash talks about how you can “run lean”– avoiding wasted effort and minimizing risk, and “scale lean”, by giving yourself permission to scale in stages (tweet).


Ash Maurya In this episode, Ash gives tips on how to avoid wasted effort and minimize risk in a startup, including:

  • Why you need to fall in love with your customers’ problem, not your solution.
  • How to “get out of the building” to talk to prospects to learn from them (not pitch them), even if you’re actually still in the building. (Advice I wish I had followed many times.)
  • How long should it take to prove (or disprove) an idea?
  • How Jason Cohen (from Episodes 1&2) used lean techniques to sign up Ash to the earliest version of WPEngine.
  • If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around “lean”, consider this: “Don’t build a key first and then try to figure out which door it might open. If you flip it around, and find the door first, building the key is easy.”
  • Why the hard part these days isn’t “building the product”, it’s “building the customer.”

And don’t feel bad if you’ve made mistakes on this path.

A reader of Ash’s first book came up to him and said “I wish I’d read this book 5 years ago.”

Ash replied, “me, too.”

Here’s the link to Episode 7 with Ash Maurya.

Books mentioned in the episode:

WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012The Wine


WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012. (Listed at $58!!! I can assure you can find it for much, much less than that.) Yummy, fruity, strong California Pinot Noir. If you tend to like that kind of wine, you’ll like it. (It’s strong enough that some decanting, or at least airing, would be helpful. Or, if you can be patient, just let it sit in your glass for a while.)


Where you can find Ash: Web site, Twitter

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 6: John Livesay on How to Pitch

John Livesay (aka “The Pitch Whisperer”) helps entrepreneurs craft compelling pitches. He’s the author of The Successful Pitch: Conversations On Going From Invisible To Investable (pretty good pitch, right there in the title), host of The Successful Pitch Podcast, and has been featured in Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, CBS, Fox, and more.


John Livesay
In this episode, John discusses how he got into this niche, how hard he worked on his own pitch, plus:


  • The two simple, critical elements of a pitch
  • Why people are so bad at pitching
  • Why stories are so important
  • The importance of establishing your niche (it’s not just about your pitch)
  • What happens when you confuse prospects with your pitch
  • How surviving in the Amazon is like surviving in the business world
  • And much more…

Books mentioned in the episode:

The Wine

Stags Leap ChardonnayWe did this via Skype, so we each had to bring our own wine.ron-rubin-russian-river-valley-pinot-noir-2013

John had some Stag’s Leap chardonnay (@StagsLeapWines).
Reuben had Ron Rubin (no relation) Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (2013). Quite yummy for folks who like Russian River Valley pinots.



Where you can find John: Web site, Twitter, The Successful Pitch Podcast

Update: Check out John’s TEDx talk on being your own lifeguard.


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 5: June Rodil on wine, customer experience, delegation, and more

June RodilJune started her career in restaurants as a waitress, paying her way through college on the way to a law career that never ended up happening. Instead, she learned a ton about wine, became beverage director for some of the top restaurants in Austin, became one of 147 Master Sommeliers in the world, and opened her own restaurant.

In this episode, June discusses how to pick wine as a beginner, how she became as Master Sommelier, and how she opened her own restaurant.


  • Secrets for great customer service
  • How to delegate as a control freak
  • Why spreadsheets are still important
  • How to set up your product offerings to maximize customer happiness and minimize your stress.


The wine: 2012 Rosie Shuster Sankt Laurent (the ‘k’ is silent). $24. I didn’t know Austrian wine could taste this good. A little sweet, but not overly so. Lots of flavors. (Listen to June give the real description.)


Where you can find June: June’s Restaurant, Twitter (here’s one of those pictures with an interesting mixture of drinks)

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 4: Joe Williamson

joe-williamsonGuest: Joe Williamson, Partner at Alloy Partners, talks about:

  • how to price new products (brilliant stuff), including how pricing too low makes your prospects look bad
  • having an internal locus of control vs an external locus of control
  • what he learned from teaching at The Princeton Review
  • why he wouldn’t turn to sales books for sales advice (and the surprising persona of the best sales person)

Here’s the link to Episode 4 with Joe Williamson.

The wine: Joe doesn’t drink, but he helps me run an experiment on aerating the wine. Listen to get the results. (Hint, you may want to pick up one of the items in the show notes.)

Chateau Recougne 2012 Bordeaux. Pretty rich, definitely benefits from aeration, then mellows out nicely. Yum.

Chateau Recougne 2012

Venturi Essential Wine Aerator

How to Talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, by Barbara Walters

Where you can find Joe: Alloy Partners, LinkedIn.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 3: Adam Boyd

adam-boydGuest: Adam Boyd, Partner at Market Sense, a Sandler sales training firm (don’t hold it against him the way I did) and  co-author of Succeed: The Sandler Way.

Adam talks about the importance of process (and why that gives engineers an advantage), why you shouldn’t talk too much (which I screw up in the interview, giving you a good example of what not to do), how to uncover a solution rather than prescribing it, and more.
Here’s the link to Episode 3 with Adam.


The wine: Aegerter Pinot Noir for Burgundy (the year is 2012). Nice French Pinot, not as fruity as what you might be used to if you drink a lot of California Pinot.







The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Where you can find Adam: @adamboyd24, LinkedIn.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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