All for One and One for All – Unifying Development, Marketing and Sales

It’s an exciting time to be in enterprise software. IT is now perceived as an enabler of growth rather than overhead, enterprises of all sizes are adopting cloud technologies to modernize their application stack, and the available cloud infrastructure has become a catalyst for entrepreneurs to build and deploy enterprise grade software faster and cheaper. Though it is easier to launch a new product than ever before, it’s harder to gain market traction.

Scaling go-to-market is not easy. Especially when you lack alignment between your development, marketing, and sales teams. When a product fails to get market traction:

  • Sales blames Marketing for not generating enough quality leads
  • Sales blames Development for building something that customers don’t need
  • Development blames Marketing for not crafting correctly the product’s value proposition
  • Development blames Sales for not closing deals for a product that is clearly what customers need

It’s a finger-pointing game that can be avoided with three simple tactics designed to create transparency and foster alignment among Development, Marketing and Sales

1. Write a one-page press release

Force your developers to write the initial draft of a hypothetical press release before writing the first line of code. This document should explain in simple terms why customers need your product. Involve Marketing to polish the edges, and get Sales to read it and pitch it. This simple tactic will help create alignment around your product’s Promise-to-Customers.  

If Sales can’t understand the press release, neither can your customers.

[Tweet “Force your developers to write a draft of a press release before writing the first line of code.”]

2. Quantify the economic value of your product

Customers buy software to grow revenue, minimize costs or reduce risk. At some point during the buying process, your customer will ask for a business case that objectively measures their return on on investment.

So once again, before writing the first line of code, translate the product’s value proposition from your hypothetical press release into economic terms: Dollars and Cents.

This will force Development, Marketing and Sales to have an objective conversation around economic value for customers, and will clarify for everyone your product’s promise-to-customers.

If you can’t quantify your product’s value in economic terms, you will have a hard time selling.

[Tweet “If you can’t quantify your product’s value in economic terms, you will have a hard time selling.”]

3. Create an “Educate to Close” plan

Sales is about trust. You gain customer trust by educating customers in understanding the problem they have, and how your product helps them solve this problem.

The best way to do this–in a structured and programmatic way–is to understand your customer’s buying journey; identify the objections or doubts that they will have along this journey; and develop the content to address those objections.

For example, during the buying process of a CRM product, your prospect will need to create alignment among multiple stakeholders in his organization. In anticipation of this, you can create an educational content piece that addresses the question directly: “Getting buy-in for your CRM implementation: a 5 step process.”

Your customers go through an emotional journey when they buy your product. Getting Development, Sales and Marketing in a room to develop a common understanding of your customer’s buying journey and build an “Educate to Close” content plan tailored to this journey will force you to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and spark the right conversations that help you amplify your product’s Promise-to-Customers.

Don’t Leave This to Chance

As your product portfolio grows and your company becomes more geographically dispersed, the importance of alignment between Development, Marketing, and Sales becomes more critical to gain market traction.

My lesson learned through years of experience in enterprise software is to never take alignment for granted and never assume that a meeting, call, or the sponsorship of a senior executive will create the alignment you need.

Alignment is a process, a contact sport. Fortunately, alignment can be engineered with the right set of tactics. Investing in these tactics can maximize your chances of ensuring market traction.

Enrique is Head of Commercial Operations at SAP Ariba and holds an MBA from MIT School of Management. He possess 15 years of experience in enterprise software in roles spanning: product management, software commercialization and operational excellence.

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