Should Developers Be Allowed to Talk to Customers?: Page 2

Posted December 13, 2010

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

Jerry the “expert” responded. “What is the use of talking features if the product doesn’t perform as promised? And your user interface was not very intuitive.”

Dmitry was now standing, with fists clenched and pacing. “Oh yeah, well you must not be very smart Jerry because my 10-year-old could use that UI without any problem. “

Daniel’s mouth dropped in horror. I decided to interject and attempt to end this debacle.

“You know what, everyone, let’s set a time for a sales engineer to come out and take a look at your setup and I’m sure we can work this out.

Our customer spoke up to put us out of our misery. “Actually, Daniel, I think we are going to move in a different direction. But thanks for your time.”

And just like that it was over. Dmitry gave me an anguished “I told you so look” and stormed out. Daniel just sat there with his head in his hands.

Guess what? It turns out that Jerry the “expert” was actually representing a competitor and had sabotaged our efforts. Daniel agreed that the call was a trap to begin with and even though Dmitry responded inappropriately, we were fighting a losing battle. As a result, luckily there was no major fallout for me from the CEO.

As for Dmitry, he tried to apologize and I stopped him. Instead, I apologized for putting him into a situation where he wasn’t comfortable.

Bottom line: Even the most brilliant developer may not be able to convey his or her knowledge outside of the techie inner circle. Dmitry’s strength was architecting and writing code, not customer interactions.

I have since learned that some developers do have an innate ability to communicate technical topics, but not all are suited for sales situations. Dmitry went back to writing great code, had a great time at the conference and I never again asked him to talk to a customer. Frankly, I was very lucky he decided not to quit after all.

ALSO SEE: Are these Developer and IT Salaries Believable?

AND: Do Developers Need to Brown-Nose To Advance Career?

AND: Why Developers Get Fired

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Tags: developer, software, programmers, developer salary, application

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