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Rounding Out My Knowledge Base

Yesterday, I had lunch with Bill Cronin, SVP of Sales and Marketing at the company I work at. He's awesome: super competent, calm, humble, smart and getting smarter, all the bases. I wanted to get to know him better because I wanted to understand all aspects of a business, especially sales and marketing. Without sales and marketing, a company doesn't exist. I feel like more software engineers could and should appreciate that.

One thing that I learned in my lunch with Bill is the “Land and Expand” model of corporate development. In a blue-ocean environment, the marketing team's job is to land the initial customer, because the customer doesn't know we exist. It doesn't matter how large the initial order is; the job is to get the customer through the door. This is done by creating general awareness of the product through social media and information through blog posts, YouTube videos, PDF guides on materials and processes, or Google AdWords, then piping those interested to our site, making a quote, and placing an order with us. Ideally, by the time they are at that point, they will like the product enough to advocate for it.

After the customer places an order, the sales team drives the customer by offering additional services, like “Did you hear we have an injection molding service now? Try it out!", or reaching out to sales leads that the now-advocate forwards on. In doing so, the sales team drives more people at the company to buy more expensive items more frequently. More people for each company means more resilient company accounts and a more reliable revenue stream. More expensive and more frequent purchases means higher revenue, and if everything goes right, higher profitability.

The diagram below covers what I mentioned above: the “Land” part is the funnel on the left, while the “Expand” part is the funnel on the right.

Land and Expand

I asked Bill what a non-sales guy should know about sales and marketing, and he said the customer experience is not just shaped by the sales and marketing team; it's a holistic overview of the customer experience with every customer-facing facet of the company. The quality of our landing pages, our applications, the features, the performance, the customer support, the physical part - all tie back to how the customer thinks about the company.

Bill asked me what a good book for software engineering management was for somebody non-technical. I recommended “The Mythical Man-Month”. He wrote it down in his phone. He's the only guy I've talked to who did that. No wonder our sales and marketing team is so good.