It's not Product vs. Sales, it's Product and Sales
The other week a company with which I work sent a link to an article and asked what I thought. The link led to a TechCrunch article by Martina Lauchengco and Jim Wilson titled “Why Your Startup Shouldn’t Rush to $1 Million in Revenue”.
They questioned the importance of achieving $1 Million as quickly as possible, especially if it was at the expense of product discovery and CX/UX. Their premise of iterating product with constant customer feedback and keeping customers happy is absolutely a key aspect of sustaining growth. However, revenue and growth ultimately remain the key metrics on which companies are typically measured. It is where “now” and “later” fight against the forces of product and income. This is the intersection where both technologists and sales minded people need to become business people as their business scales. And that gap can be identified where you may not expect it: your quantifiable customer pipeline.
Successful business people use a quantifiable customer pipeline to measure and manage those forces of product and income. It is not one of those pipelines where a prospect is moved to “close” after a demo. It is a process where a prospective customer is actively managed through a set of objective gateways. When used properly, this type pipeline provides the early warning system that points to business problems. It not only provides data regarding a salesperson’s effectiveness, but depending on the stage of disengagement, also clearly tells you if you have a product problem. Additionally, this helps management proactively recognize the need for expense reduction while addressing product issues or signals the need to grow head count in advance of a surge in business. Ultimately it is about forecasting the future with confidence so appropriate decisions can be made across the business. And this was the “ahh-ha” moment my colleague had in our product vs. sales discussion.
Managing a recipe of product and sales real time in the marketplace is the key to success. Too often, that key ingredient to business success is missing. A trustworthy pipeline is that key ingredient which brings together the measure of success (revenue and growth) with the product to effectively grow your business.