What we don't get about Sales
How to understand Sales' mantra - Always Be Closing.
A century-old problem in software engineering is that Sales People try to sell software that is not yet there, while Engineers get angry about it.
If you struggle to understand why it’s so difficult to change it, today I’d like to introduce you to the concept of incentives.
incentive - something that encourages a person to do something (Cambridge Dictionary)
For example, discounts and loyalty programs work as an incentive to pick selected brands over others when going shopping. Cheap public transport is an incentive to use your car less often. Bonuses and stock options are incentives making you run the extra mile for your employer.
Upton Sinclair, an American writer born in 1878, once said:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
While a bit cynical, this quote summarizes the power of incentives in one sentence. As long as one is rewarded for specific actions, he will not change anything in his behavior. It’s just how humans operate by default.
In order to understand why non-existent software is already promised to the customer, you have to remember how powerful incentives are. As with every part of the org, salespeople have their own set of incentives that drives their work. Since most often they are rewarded for closing deals, you can’t expect them to always listen to arguments about something being too complex or too difficult to ship on time. It’s against their incentives.
What may help bring these two worlds closer together to stop wasting time arguing and not delivering on some implicit expectations?
Attending the same demos in front of the customer, brainstorming problems without predefined solutions, establishing and analyzing transparent product metrics, rewarding both short-term deliverables and long-term strategy, giving each other space to share feedback, and making this cross-department collaboration a part of the delivery process.
Anything but fighting Sales. In the end, it’s where your salary comes from.
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