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The 2 kinds of sales people

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There are two types of sales people: order-takers and rainmakers. Which do you need?

I often hear developers complain “our sales people are just order-takers”—but isn’t that what they should be? If you’ve created a complete product that solves a problem for a specific market segment, selling is immensely easier.

What makes it hard—and why you need “real” sales people—is when you’ve created a set of technologies that doesn’t solve a market problem. Meaning, the sales people need to push the client to buy with promises of future features rather than simply explaining the product and taking orders.

These sales people are deal makers and rainmakers. They look for clients with money who need problems solved, and they bring those problems back to the product team for resolution. They sell what you don’t have and require the product team to fill in the missing pieces.

Rainmakers are, in effect, a primary marketing program. Since you didn’t start with a persona or market segment, you rely on these sales people to sell to their personal contacts—people they’ve sold to before. And since you didn’t solve a problem for that segment, you have an incomplete solution for everyone.

The ideal scenario is to sell what you have to people who need it. That requires product management and development to target an ideal persona and create a product that sells itself.

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