John McMahon, Cedric Pech, Jeremy Duggan. Familiar? Probably not. But they are the rock stars of selling in fast-paced software unicorns; businesses such as BladeLogic, BMC, Ariba, Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), MongoDB, BMC and Sprinklr.  There’s a lot they can teach our industry about how to do sales better.

Stop being ashamed of selling

Software businesses are sales-led cultures; they unashamedly celebrate the achievements of the salesperson. They think of the function as a profession. It’s number one in the pecking order, ahead of marketing, HR and others. Our industry struggles to call sales by its proper name. We suffer from an embarrassment around the ‘S’ word, a hangover from a 1980s image of shiny suits and white socks. We think of sales as dirty, so we disguise it by calling it marketing or business development. But it’s time to move on; we all need to sell and to sell more.

Agencies need to up their sales games

In many independent agencies, and even some of the networks, new business isn’t working. How often do you hear the exec team moan about great new biz people being so hard to find, or not performing to expectations once they’re in situ?

For agencies looking to scale, this is a thorny issue and there’s a lot resting on getting sales right. They will have reached the £2-3M turnover mark, recognize that they’ve exhausted their little black book and need to focus on outbound activity. Similarly, many larger agencies know their sales machine is not performing and understand it’s time for a reboot.  What can the software industry’s approach to selling teach them?