Mentored by McMahon
Following John McMahon's formula for building the best sales teams, always learning, and leaving a legacy of leaders
Who’s John McMahon?
During the past 30 years or so, McMahon has created some of the most successful sales teams at five public software companies, including BladeLogic, BMC, Ariba, Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), and GeoTel.
As chief operating officer and head of worldwide sales at BladeLogic, he helped transform it from a startup to its $872 million acquisition by BMC. At GeoTel, he grew sales to $52 million prior to a $2 billion acquisition by Cisco. And at PTC, where McMahon first made his mark, sales grew from $1 million to $1.1 billion in nine years.
Today, McMahon sits on the boards of several companies, including the data cloud platform Snowflake and the cloud database platform MongoDB. To stay centered amid the hard work, he devotes a lot of time to yoga, weight lifting, and cycling; he does 25-mile morning rides around his Boston home, once biked across America and South Africa, and raced competitively.
McMahon’s approach to sales is similar to his approach to sports. He often refers to the playbooks of his beloved Boston Bruins or Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots to make a strategic point. (shout out People.ai for the bio)
“My motto in business is to always be a student of the game,” says McMahon. “Even when I’m called in as an advisor, I still learn from people around the table. That’s the mindset of being a student of the game.”
In this week’s edition of Stretch Weekly -
John talks with Andy Whyte on what makes a great seller and sales leader and so much more.
John McMahon joins Justin Shriber as they discuss building the best sales teams, always learning and leaving a legacy of leaders.
Plus more snippets to continue to learn from as you build the best sales team and a legacy of leaders yourself.
THANKS for reading!!
And lastly - as always, if you find this newsletter valuable- subscribe or share it with someone who might as well 👊.
The GOAT of Sales Leaders - John McMahon
Bookmark, save, favorite - do whatever you need to do - to listen and re-listen to this episode right here.
John’s conversation with MEDDICC Author Andy Whyte has so many great nuggets of wisdom and insight for sales leaders in SaaS, it’s hard to summarize, but here it goes.
Like different positions on a sports team, sales leaders should match their skillsets of salespeople to different roles in the org. (As mentioned in his new book The Qualified Sales Leader (his new book out now)
Intelligence (knowledge of the playbook) and Persistence (practice/execution) are the top two traits John looks for in sales reps followed by being “coachable and adaptable”.
Story of Carlo - and how urgent, genuine curiosity helped him become the top seller and eventual sales leader.
Each rep has different personalities, talents, goals, communication styles. Tailor your leadership and approach accordingly.
How John picks career opportunities in the market.
Why does a customer have to buy?
Why from you?
Why buy now?
Qualify, Qualify, Qualify. (Want a role with John? change your middle name to “Qualify”)
The Legend of John McMahon
Another really great podcast featuring the legend John McMahon talking with Justin Shriber on how he built the best sales teams, always learning and leaving a legacy of leaders.
As a sales leader, McMahon says you should only recruit people who are smart and have their “PHD”—as in persistence, heart, and desire. “If they are smart, they’ll gain knowledge quickly,” he says. “And if they are persistent, they’ll have the determination to develop new skills, because skills only come with time.”
McMahon warns against mistaking today’s make-it-fun company culture for actual culture. “Too many companies think culture is ping-pong, foosball, and beer taps,” he says. What people want, instead, is to be proud of the company they work for, proud of the people they work with, proud of their leader, and proud to be winning. “Helping people win is a culture,” says McMahon. “Teaching them how to win on their own is a culture. If people aren’t learning, earning, growing, and being promoted, they’re not staying around for the pool table.”
It’s crucial for a winning sales team, McMahon says, to speak to the C-suite’s concerns. “When my teams message to the C-level, we don’t want to talk about product,” he says. “We want to discuss the company’s corporate objectives, strategic initiatives, business pains, and the impact we can have. The minute you start talking technical functions, you’re out the door. You get relegated to who you sound like.”
To win big $10–$20 million contracts, says McMahon, sales leaders must find a business champion on the inside to help, someone who thinks in terms of business value and solving major issues that can transform how a company does business. “A champion is someone who has access to power, access to the economic buyer,” the person who can buy your product, says McMahon. “To find a champion you need to ask around: Who made the last couple purchases? If somebody got hit by a bus, who gets promoted? Who are the rising stars? Who is the C-level putting in charge of new initiatives?”
⍰ The guru of Discovery Charles Muhlbauer suggests using more humbling disclaimers to identify competitors and how you can position against them.
Something like: “At the risk of being too forward, what other solutions are you considering so that I can help tailor the differences?”
✅ Nikki Ivey and Belal Batrawy talk about how sales teams need better training for hybrid work. The customer journey as well as the remote/hybrid sales culture presents unique opportunities with less than 43% of sales reps expecting to return to the office full time.
💪 Mor Assouline says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned in sales is this: “You don’t need motivation if you have discipline”.
❌ Jake Dunlap talks through mistakes he’s made as a VP of Sales and 4 things to learn:
Results AREN’T everything. Negotiate vesting/severance.
Mentorship with consulting firms.
Build an amazing interviewing and onboarding process to scale.
🤑 Mark McWatters says too many organizations believe money is the only motivation for sellers. Research shows its much more complex - and depends on the generation and individual. Learn what your reps value and tailor your approach accordingly.
Thanks for reading!
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— Grant 👋
About stretch vp: confessions, learnings, and insights from sales leaders in SaaS
Compiled and aggregated from a network of sales leaders in SaaS, Stretch VP showcases learnings, insights, and experiences as well as best practices to overcome common hurdles, obstacles, and setbacks in your quest for excellence as a sales leader in SaaS.
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