Build What You Sell, Sell What You Build

Ensure your product team builds what you sell, and your sales team sells what you build. If either part of the process is out of sync, problems arise. In that case, product teams could build software no one wants, and your sales team could make…

Ensure your product team builds what you sell, and your sales team sells what you build. If either part of the process is out of sync, problems arise. In that case, product teams could build software no one wants, and your sales team could make unreasonable promises.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one.  Your sales colleague has a hot lead — a customer that is sure to place a big order.  But… the catch is, they need a brand new feature. One that doesn’t exist, but that your colleague assured would be no issue.  

Does that sound familiar to something that’s played out at some point in your career?  If not, then congratulations — you’ve worked with some stellar sales teams.

Of course, those salespeople could be telling a similar story about the product people they’ve worked with in the past.  They may roll their eyes at the times that the product people on their team were dedicating so much time and energy to a product that didn’t even seem to fit where the company was heading.

If you’ve fallen victim to being “that person”, well… you’re probably not alone.  

But Des Traynor of Intercom suggests that if we kept things simple and believed in the mantra, “Sell what you build, and build what you sell” — we might be better aligned with the rest of our colleagues.  We focus on building the products that are sales organization is designed to sell and that our customers need. And we sell the products that we actually have, not the ones that we may offer in the future.

It’s a simple enough mantra.  Will living by it automatically improve those interdepartmental relationships that are so critical for product-driven organizations to succeed?  Maybe not by itself. But we’re with Des that more product people would be better off in adopting this mindset.

Paul McAvinchey
Paul McAvinchey
paul@productcollective.com

For over 15 years, Paul has been building and collaborating on digital products with fast-growing startups and global brands, including AOL and WMS Gaming. Currently, he's a co-founder of Product Collective, a 15,000+ strong worldwide community of product people. Members collaborate on Slack, meet at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, listen to Rocketship.fm, learn at Product Lunch and get a weekly brief that includes best practices in product management. In recent years he led business development at DXY, a leading product design firm in the Midwest, and product innovation at MedCity Media, a publishing startup acquired by Breaking Media in 2015.