Be a Better Developer 5 – Being a Salesperson

Friday, March 26 2010

This blog post is part of a larger series named “Be a Better Developer”.  You can check out the intro, “Stop Being a Code Monkey” to get started from the beginning.  Each post will have a link to the previous ones and a final summary post will contain links to all entries in the series.



For Sale - 1 Good Developer

This is one role that you’ll have to play as a good developer that generally sends chills up my spine: a salesperson.  This is a role that I’m not overly good at and I am actively taking steps to improve on it.  Being a good salesperson is a role that we should get better at as developers.  I think too often we see a solution in our heads and we just plow forward with the attitude of, “this is the way it should be, why can’t they see that?”.  We aren’t good at describing why we think something should be done a specific way or why we are proposing the solution we are.

You may be thinking that this role is only important if you are a consultant, or an independent, but that’s not true. As a full time employee you also have to learn to sell. You may not be selling your services, but you most certainly will need to sell your ideas to the other developers on your team and to your manager. If you want to go to a conference and you want your company to send you then you’ll need to sell to your management the need for you to go.  If you are having a “passionate debate” about how a problem needs to be solved with your team mates you need to be able to present it in a clear, concise and intelligent manner; otherwise you’re likely to be bulldozed.

I believe there is a big difference between selling something on its merits and being the stereotype we portray for used car salesmen.  Be Photo Credit: bonkedproducer; used under Creative Commons license.confident in your purpose and position for what you are trying to sell.  Don’t hide things from the other party: be transparent and clear in the benefits of what you are trying to present.  When you are working with a client or your business (if you are full time employee) you have to build trust.  When you build up trust then when you present an idea it will be taken seriously.  If you bulldoze your way through an argument, force the use of a unnecessary technology or aren’t completely forthcoming with the possible outcomes that will be remembered.  The next time you have to go to that same person or department to sell them something they will be very wary of you… if you even get a chance to come back to them at all.

Being a salesperson means knowing how to sell yourself, your ideas and the solutions you’re proposing.  The next installment of this series will cover some tips on how to be a good salesperson and I’ll share with you some of the things I’m doing in this area to improve myself. 


Previous Posts in the series:

  • 0 – Stop Being a Code Monkey (Intro)
  • 1 – Being a Student
  • 1.5 – Being a Student – Tips
  • 2 – Being a Janitor
  • 2.5 - Being a Janitor - Tips
  • 3 – Being a Researcher
  • 3.5 - Being a Researcher - Tips
  • 4 - Being a Plumber
  • 4.5 - Bing a Plumber - Tips