Why the sales team shouldn’t dictate all of your design priorities

23Jul09

Despite all the talk about listening to customer feedback, the features that paying customers use most are often the most stagnant parts of any technology product. While these core features languish, other aspects of the product benefit from fresh design thinking and vastly better usability.

What separates the forgotten features from the ones that get all the design attention? Sometimes it’s as simple as whether a given feature comes in handy during demos and sales meetings. In other words, if the feature (or potential feature) helps wow prospects and bring in new customers, it’s bound to become a favorite of the sales team. This trickles down to the development side, and that feature gets lots of attention.

The sales team can be very powerful in some organizations, even to the point where salespeople basically dictate the design decisions. This strategy may be very effective in the short run. But I wonder what impact it has after the gloss wears off, when customers have to live with the product on a daily basis — including all the unappreciated features that nobody ever asks about during a demo.



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