October 14, 2015

Can This Marriage be Saved?

Developers vs Sales Collaborations

Product Developers vs Sales Teams: A Culture ‘War of the Roses’

It’s no secret that there is often tension or distrust between product developers vs sales teams. I’ve seen this dynamic in many companies over my career, and I’m sure you have too. Product development feels that sales is constantly pushing and promising features that aren’t possible or don’t make sense. Sales departments complain that software engineers don’t understand their customers and make it harder for them to sell.

In my experience, this ‘developers vs sales’ dynamic is common and develops for a myriad of reasons. Typically, sales professionals and engineers have different personalities, traits and skill sets.  Additionally, thought processes differ significantly between the two groups. Engineers tend to make decisions based on logic and analysis. While it’s important for sales people to focus on their numbers, they also need to get to the “emotional” reason clients purchase a product in order to be successful.

The all too familiar result of this dynamic of developers vs sales mindset? Teams that operate in silos that aren’t producing the best possible results for a company or its customers.  Even if your company produces a technically sound product and your sales team is getting good results, this less than adequate relationship between sales and product development IS hindering optimal results. Let’s be honest – none of us are in business to settle for good results.

How do we, as leaders, stop accepting this dynamic and even feeding into it with our own beliefs?

Secrets to Successful Product Developers vs Sales Team Collaboration

First, we need to develop a common vision and set of values.  At Govenda, we believe that better access to information leads to better decisions. And better decisions lead to stronger organizations that ultimately build a better world. While we have a set of values, our first and most important one is that we are committed to our customers’ success.

Second, we need to communicate these values to our teams. This is more important than all the technical specs and sales goals we could establish. In fact, our work product (specs, end product, sales goals) should all be based on our vision and values. Communicating the overarching vision for a company to team members allows them to buy in to our mission and become a part of achieving it instead of being just an individual who completes a set of tasks on a daily basis. Which team member do you think is more likely to get you to your goal?

Third, at each and every meeting between these two groups, set the stage. Remind everyone of your goal. With every decision our team makes regarding the development of our board portal software, we ask “Does this decision help our customers be successful?” This helps our engineers to consider the input of user experience professionals heavily because they understand WHY it’s important. A great feature that’s difficult to use will never be adopted by our customers.

A product can only be at its best when it’s technically superior, user-friendly, and answers the needs of its customers. The optimization of each of these requirements can only happen when there is a harmonious and respectful relationship between sales and product development. The best way for organizations to foster this relationship is to ensure a clear vision and set of values that are used in frequent communication with each team. At Govenda, we strive to ensure a harmonious environment to ensure our customers get the best possible product.


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