The Push and Pull Between Sales and Engineering

Early on in the life of a startup things are pretty straightforward: everyone in the company either builds stuff or sells stuff. As the business grows and starts to scale there’s an interesting push and pull that occurs between the sales team and the engineering team. On the sales front, there’s always a desire for more features and functionality with which to show prospects and close more deals. On the engineering front, as the customer base grows, so too does the desire to refactor code and re-architect subsystems of the product to accommodate new use cases as well as enhance scalability.

Inevitability, the end result is a few months of what appears to be little to no new customer-facing features followed by a couple months of what appears to be heightened engineering activity with a variety of new customer-facing features. The engineering effort is the same but the areas of focus can make it seem like productive times and non-productive times. Sales continues asking for new functionality and engineering continues balancing time between new functionality and reworking existing functionality. It never ends.

Entrepreneurs would do well to recognize the push and pull between sales and engineering and know that each team means well. Healthy discourse is required as there’s a tendency for each party to feel that the other group doesn’t understand what they do and how hard they work. This tension is normal and part of life in a tech company.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the push and pull between sales and engineering?

One thought on “The Push and Pull Between Sales and Engineering

  1. Once upon a time at Technest, I worked at a startup where the engineering and sales teams were seated together in a small area and we could overhear the pitches of features the products didn’t have. Isolating the sales team from the same working space could help engineering concentrate more.

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