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7 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Sales and Development

In many organizations, there’s a profound disconnect between the sales and project management departments. Of course no salesperson in their right mind wants to tell a customer “no” or keep them waiting longer than necessary for a project to begin, but it’s no use for your sales team to promise the Earth if the development team can’t deliver it. Every sale is built on a promise to provide certain products and services and to maintain trust, you have to be able to follow through. This involves delivering not only exactly what the customer needs and wants, but also setting realistic expectations. If both sides can communicate well and make sure that the client remains the number one priority, it will benefit the entire company and those you serve. Here are seven ways to make sure sales and development work well together and pull in the same direction:

► Involve development as early in the process as possible. This helps provide clarification if current off-the-shelf solutions will work and if not, what levels of effort and customization will be needed to bridge solution gaps.

▼ Secure hand offs from Sales to Design Resources to Development

  • Document the process
  • Determine assumptions and requirements
  • Provide and agree on next steps

▼ Increase and foster product and technical expertise:

  • Sales people were never hired to do the job of a developer or even a sales engineer and neither were developers intended to sell. Make sure people stick to what they’re best at and ask for help from the experts as needed.
  • Find a common ground between sales and development by ensuring that each team member is an expert in your industry, solutions, and products.
  • The more overlap sales can have in understanding development and vice versa, the better folks will be.

► Understand each other’s communication style.

► Remember that both sides exist for mutual benefit. Sales signs up the work for developers, while developers create solutions that sales people can sell. Everyone is here to help each other when it all comes down to it, being a cohesive, cooperative team is better than being on opposite sidelines!

▼ Make sure the questions that sales asks developers are intentional, which can be assisted by:

  • Development taking five or ten minutes up front to clarify some information can help everyone down the road.
  • Establishing clear expectations for all internal stakeholders and the customer, and being completely transparent throughout the process

► Know going in that the personalities of sales people and developers are often quite different, but that it’s OK to embrace such differences.

By: Keith Reece – ECM Development Manager at Shamrock Solutions, LLC

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