Build what you sell, sell what you build

This is a quote by Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer that I often use when working with new B2B SaaS Marketing teams.

Sell what you have build

When you have a product that is still an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), or maybe you have reached Product-Market-Fit, it’s not going to be perfect for every prospect you encounter. It’s critical that your marketing and sales teams are comfortable selling a solution that may not be right for every lead. And in that case it’s ok to walk away. The worst thing that can happen to a start-up early is that the engineering team becomes the hostage of early customers who we are trying to please with everything they ask for. Your sales and marketing team needs to be comfortable to “sell what we have” and not accept every feature that a prospect asks for as a potential blocker to the sale.

Build what you sell

The above does not mean that your engineering team should not be listening to customer needs. The feedback look to learn from your early customers and respond with product innovation and completing your solutions is critical for long term success.

You need to balance these two forces. You cannot build your product in a vacuum, and need customers to drive engineering priorities. You cannot allow your early customers to treat your engineering team as their personal custom development team though.