On November 5 2014 ten software directors joined us at the Harper Macleod Glasgow office to attend a private roundtable discussion. The event was co-hosted by our MD Jordan Samuel Fleming and David Kaye, partner at Harper MacLeod. The aim of the event was to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing B2B software companies.
The conversation flowed freely and a lot of really interesting points were made. We took as many notes as we could, and have summarised them below:
The first topic came from a company with software for the Oil & Gas industry. They’ve recently opened their first Houston office and wanted to know ‘What is the best way to grow the business in the US?’ This stimulated a great amount of conversation as two thirds of the room already have an office in Texas.
Key points raised:
- talk to SDI and use the Global Scot Network
- don’t go without a customer already confirmed
- make the initial relationships yourself (don’t rely on a partner)
- get some deals closed before you get a local partner
- When you are ready for a partner, look for a subject matter expert who can lend industry credibility
- don’t shy away from the hard sale, they expect to be sold to
Recruitment of Sales People
The discussion then naturally flowed to Recruitment and, in particular, the pros and cons of hiring sales people vs subject experts. There was mixed views as some felt that there is a place for determined sales people, whereas others thought having well connected experts opens more doors.
Key points raised:
- Both types of sales person can work, but a more complicated company needs subject experts
Recruitment of Developers
Everyone had a lot to say about this topic, as everyone felt there’s a particular shortage of developers in Scotland, with demand outstripping supply. It was suggested one way to get around this is to ‘hire them young’ as interns, where they can learn from more experienced developers and then snap them up once they graduate. Another point raised was the difference in productivity from an A class ‘rockstar’ versus an average programmer and the difficulty in keeping the best developers stimulated without over developing the software.
Key Points Raised:
- There is a big difference between a “rockstar developer” and everyone else.
- “Rockstar developers” need challenges, don’t hold them back with documentation
- Get some solid developers who can mop up after the others
The final discussion features a piece of advice from one Director who closed a huge deal in Texas, where they, as a three man team, beat competition from much larger (and better known) competitor. His advice: you have to be willing to take risk with your business, and when you do, give it everything you have. If they like you, they will find a way to work with you!
If you’d like to know how you and your company can be involved in a future ’round table’ event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
– The Team