If you work in any industry that involves software development, you know there can be a disconnect between development teams and the “front of the house” sales and marketing teams. Even in small companies. We can preach corporate buzzwords like “HR synergy” until we’re blue in the face, but it can be really difficult to align these groups.
The cycle of software development is a dynamic feedback loop between the process of creating a product that satisfies a market requirement, and the actual implementation of those specifications on a development level. Everyone who interacts with customers has their own unique idea about what the product should look like, but that notion is too often accompanied by ignorance of the processes required to pull it off. Development teams that are too broadly linked to the feedback of the business’ sales element will not only be distracted from their jobs, but will not have clarity in their direction. While this may seem quite obvious, an important question still remains:
Successful software development requires a process to implement specifications to create a product that satisfies a market requirement. Those who interact with the customers know what the product should look like, but they don’t necessarily understand what it takes to pull it off. Those who are building the product have to make technical decisions, but they don’t necessarily know the target audience well enough to make the most customer-relevant choices.
How can we keep our sales and product development teams connected without sacrificing workflow efficiency and clear development vision? Technology can help bridge the gap.
1. Humanize the relationships.
It’s too easy to fall back on stereotypes. Like, sales people have no clue—they will make promises about a product to close the deal, even if they aren’t quite available today or even on the roadmap. Or, that developers have no clue—they don’t understand how this stuff needs to work in the real world. Even if there’s a little bit of truth in the cliché (after all, stereotypes come from somewhere), such generalizations are not helpful. The best way to break through is to build relationships across the functions. This is not, however, easy to do. Everyone’s busy. Teams are often not even in the same location. Collaboration tools, including easy ways to share informal videos, can break the ice and help different functions get to know each other and operate as one, unified team.
2. Foster an atmosphere of technical competence.
Sales reps are out in the field (or on the phone) every day talking to customers and prospects. Each discussion has to be tailored to the needs and requirements of the specific organization they’re talking to in that moment. And while the sales reps have some level of technical understanding, they are often not as “techy” as some of the folks they deal with. They need to be able to speak confidently about the product with up-to-date information and at any level of technical detail needed in a given situation. This requires more than just one-way, point-in-time product training. They need to be able to quickly pinpoint answers to very specific questions, and get those answers in easy-to-consume formats so they can focus on having productive sales conversations (and closing deals). Assessments that measure technical competence helps executives managing sales teams to easily identify challenges that could be affect a rep’s ability to build customer confidence and get the sale.
3. Create a customer feedback loop.
Developers work hard every day to build features and functionality. They have a strong connection to the code they produce, but often not to the product’s ultimate end user. It can be incredibly difficult to put themselves into the customers’ shoes, especially when those users are decidedly un-technical—they suffer from the “curse of knowledge.” It can be frustrating to hear that something they created, something that works perfectly from a technical perspective, isn’t what the customer wants or needs (they are, after all, human). It’s easy to dismiss such input when it comes from product marketers and sales reps (especially from sales reps). It’s harder to write it off when that feedback comes directly from the customers for whom the products were built. Creating a channel to deliver customer feedback—both negative and positive—to development teams gives them “from the horse’s mouth” input they can learn from, and can help them feel more connected to those customers.
Close the Gap…With an App
All of the above is possible, and you can deliver it via an easy-to-use, always-with-you app. And the good news is that you don’t have to re-create anything—you can use the content you have today no matter what format it’s in. Retrieve helps organizations of all sizes connect and collaborate by “appifying” knowledge, information, and communication:
- Two-way communication through videos, images, and text
- Assurance that only the most up-to-date information is available at any moment
- The ability to search for and instantly retrieve the answer to any question
- Interactive tools, such as assessments
- Secure, controlled distribution to protect confidential and proprietary information
- Analytics on usage to help you continually refine and improve collaboration