Why is there often disdain for sales and business teams from the engineers and technologist that build the products?
Technologists have the impression that they do all the hard work of creating a product or a solution, whereas the business guys do the easy part. A good product sells itself, and a bad product falls apart in the market quickly. So where does the sales guys contribute?
Well, if it were that simple, there would be no need for sales teams. Companies that build good products and solutions, would succeed without sales and set the standards. But that does not quite materialize.
So what does sales do? Having been a technologist first, and on the business side later, I can take a shot at answering that.
The theory behind today’s technologies is complicated. But once a technology has been realized, it is replicable at scale. While it takes decades to master the disciplines to invent a new technology, it is easier to sustain it. This is because technology theory is perfect, and its systems are predictable. All the theory that goes into building a smartphone is difficult to master, but building one is not as hard in practice. And this is as true for building it in India, China or the Dominican Republic.
On the other hand, business theory is simple. It is obvious that good communication leads to strong relationships. But executing it can take decades of practice and perfecting. Sales involves human behaviour, which is unpredictable. The recipe for the right skills and processes are dependent on an assortment of variables such as geography, culture, time, and the temperament of the individuals involved. These skills are difficult to scale or replicate. The same sales strategy for selling a smartphone in China today would simply crumble in India, or even in China 10 years from now. All these factors also make seemingly obvious business theory imperfect, and impossible to perfect.
The mistake made by most technologists is to look at how simple business theory and mistake it for being complete, obvious and easy to implement. They do not realize how many years of practice go into performing a sale that looks easy.
In summary, the technological world of difficult theory and easy implementation fails to understand the business world of simple theory and difficult implementation.
Inspiration: Zero to One – Peter Thiel