How do you get developers/engineers to engage salespeople?


The other day, I asked Why do developers/techies avoid salespeople, and found some great insight. To sum up the answers on the question, it's a matter of introversion and arrogance.

So how does one overcome this? That is, how does one get a developer/engineer type to want to engage (via phone) a salesperson?

Let's assume that the sales staff is highly knowledgable and even knows more about the problem space than the individual. Let's also assume that a 30-60 minute phone interview is all that's needed to determine whether the solution is a good fit.

Putting on your developer hat, what would pursaude you to (willingly) hop on the phone for a 30 minute interview?

  • Calling it a free consulation (which, because of the knowledge gap, it would be)?
  • Could it be done with copy? "We don't have salespeople. We have developers. And we're here to talk to you,...blah blah"
  • giving away something? Free shirt! Free mug!

Marketing Sales

asked Dec 11 '10 at 08:06
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • The answers to the previous questions are a reflection of the complex reality those programmers live in. Summarizing them as "introversion and arrogance" is simplistic and reductionist, and says to me you didn't understand them. – Bob Murphy 13 years ago

6 Answers


I'm a developer myself and the best way to convince me is to simply give me your solution and let me play with that for a little bit. If I like it - I'll buy.
If some software does not have a free trial and I need to have a call with somebody in order to try it - there is a 99% chance that I won't go for it.

And there is no way you can make me spend 30 minutes talking to some sales guy - it's a huge waste of my time.

answered Dec 11 '10 at 08:12
970 points
  • @salom, just to clarify: talking to a sales guy is a huge waste of your time, but playing with it for a little bit is not? – Frank 13 years ago
  • talking to a sales guy is usually a huge waste of time cause they never know what the hell they are talking about. I'd rather take the software, play around a little bit and see how it works. – Salmon 13 years ago


Sorry to ask in this way, but I can't post comments yet.

Do you mean:

  • "How do I get our devs to talk to our salespeople?
  • Or do you have a product aimed at devs (like tdwtf) that you want to sell?
  • Or do you want your devs to talk to external salespeople for evaluation purposes?

BTW, the question and answers are very interesting so far! Will upvote as soon as I have enough rep :)

answered Dec 11 '10 at 09:26
149 points
  • In the Why do developers/techies avoid salespeople post it says "Over the past several months, we've been expanding our marketing efforts to include developers and other techies." – Ben 13 years ago
  • That still doesn't answer the question - it could mean their own techies are doing their marketing or it could mean they are targeting techies with their marketing. It is unclear to me as well. – Tim J 13 years ago


Alex you need to build this structure into your organization. Sales folks are outgoing, energetic, and usually love the chase. Developers are usually a lot more quiet, and less glory hogs.

You can build this into your organization by:
1. Teaching your sales staff to defer to developer advice. Lets say your sales person is in charge of selling a CDN network you operate. He knows how to break objections, understands the basics of what he is selling, but cannot answer highly technical questions. He/She needs to feel very comfortable (and supported) knowing that they could always bring on a technical expert on the phone, or in person meeting at any time.

  1. You train your developers that although they are the brains of your operation, sales people are the mouth. If the mouth doesnt eat, the whole organization hurts. You get exicited about the role sales builds. A lot of this is by making sure that your company as a whole operates like a family. Make sure you spur relationships between sales and tech folks. Easy ways to accomplish this is by having group meetings with both sales and tech staff. Ask sales for tech input, and tech for sales input. Encourage crossover as much as possible. Something as simple as making sure your office layout encourages interaction could go a far ways. Developers still need quiet space, but co-work areas should be highly intergrated. To further this, you could make sure sales knows about developments accomplishments, and tech knows about the great job sales is doing.
  2. Last, you could give small incentives to Tech folks for helping close a deal. It could just be a points system or recognition. Or it can be something more substantial such as $25 bucks or each sales lead they are involved in. This way you groom your tech folks to be tech savvy.

Treat it as good cop bad cop.
Good cop = tech guys with all the answers
Bad cop = Sales guy that wants the sale.

Together the prospect is converted to a client.

answered Dec 11 '10 at 08:16
2,079 points
  • All good advice (and we currently do tag-team sales like that), but our challenge is that developer/engineers won't even start the sales process. Once they're willing to engage, things go relatively smoothly... but no phone call means no opportunity to even call them a prospect. – Alex Papadimoulis 13 years ago
  • Some of it is personality. Some developers simply reject the idea of having to sell, they see it as a waste of time, or are not attracted to doing things where they are not "good at". Recognizing this allows you to, 1 hire more outgoing sales folks in the future, or perhaps not ask the developers to get involved in sales at all. You could, if budget permits, hire a few highly technical sales folks who can serve as an in between. These guys would not actually have development work to do, but would be geeky enough to understand all the details and outgoing enough to work with sales. – Frank 13 years ago
  • These type of hybrid, Liger type personalities are harder to find, because they tend to be in business for themselves. But they do exist, and with the right amount of recruiting you could find one. Another point, if your tech guys are not converting phone calls into sales leads, then you allow sales people to monitor tech calls, and require logging of all tech calls in a call tracking system. I would even suggest recording the calls. This could benefit traning for both sales and tech, but also give smart sales rep the opportunity to call a customer back to follow up on a lead. – Frank 13 years ago
  • Modify your channels, where before someone is speaking to a developer they are first logged in. A receptionist can simply ask for a name, company, what is this call regarding, and a call back number in case the call gets dropped. This is enough for a sales member to ask the developer what the call was about (or look it up in the "SYSTEM") and then make a quick call to cultivate the lead. – Frank 13 years ago


Can you give us a link to your product/service?

Just because you have a great product doesn't mean it fits every developers needs. There is also a switching cost (in terms of time) for me to use your new product/service there needs to be a really good reason for me to do that.

Being able to do your own research first means your not put on the spot about making decisions.

I would suggest creating a short 2 minute video (4 at the absolute outside as there are alot of other things competing for my attention) which captures the value your product/service offers that I can watch first (so im not in the dark) would make me feel more comfortable talking to you about your product/service if its something I need.

answered Dec 11 '10 at 11:41
522 points
  • Here's the product... it's not for all developers of course, in fact, it's more of a team tool; but devs will often be a champion or at the very least refer it up to their boss... Papadimoulis 13 years ago
  • looks like a cool product, what would be very useful would be a table comparing your features/benefits with your competitors products to save me the time of doing it, otherwise its safer for me to use something else that someone I know is already using say hooking up buildbot and capistrano – Ben 13 years ago


That is, how does one get a
developer/engineer type to want to
engage (via phone) a salesperson?

Most of us get paid to design and write code, and are given schedules that are on the knife-edge of feasible. Our employers don't want to hear we blew deadlines because we were yakking on the phone with salespeople. Most places I've worked, they pay gatekeepers to make it really hard for cold-callers to get to the programmers.

So here are a few options.

Convince my boss first

I've sometimes been asked by a manager to evaluate a product, and have always been happy to do it.

Make a really compelling case via some other means of contact

Traditional advertising is good for that.

Pay me

With the deadlines most of us have, yakking on the phone at work means we stay late. If you want to chew into my personal time, pony up - and mugs and shirts ain't gonna do it, either.

Microsoft has tried twice to get me to spend a day evaluating some product and offered me what they called a "gratuity". I'm not sure why they think I'm a waiter; I'm a highly-educated, highly-paid professional with too much work and not enough time. At my normal hourly contract rate, I told them a subscription to MSDN for $700 would be fine, but they didn't seem to think that was a good idea.

answered Dec 13 '10 at 18:39
Bob Murphy
2,614 points


I think at the end of the day, you need to realize that developers are simply not COMFORTABLE talking to vendors in general. I know I am generalizing, but it is a reality. I think the question is great, but I do not think there is a good answer to your question. There is no good and simple and easy way to get a developer who is EVALUATING your product to TALK to anyone.

Actually, I take it back. There are two circumstances when they will pickup a phone and call:

  • If they have a HUGE pain and your product solves that pain and you are the only one who can solve it for them. IE: when they have no choice.
  • If their boss actively asks them to reach out to your staff to get extra information

So, either pray that your product is the only product that solves a huge pain OR have a way to target IT managers (ie the decision makers & bosses) and get them to talk to your sales people first.

answered Dec 14 '10 at 03:34
886 points
  • I just saw your product and website. With such a product, do not even for a second waste your time to trying to TALK to developers. Target their managers. – Igorek 13 years ago

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