Product Reigns Supreme

Last week, at the informal Friday afternoon happy hour in the Atlanta Tech Village, three Kevy team members swaggered through the community room straight to the keg.

After prodding into their state, all three were elated to bring on their 100th paying customer. A few brief solo cup toasts later, I asked: “has your recent traction been more sales or more product?”

Being that two of them were sales guys and one a developer, they all looked at each other and conceded it was a group effort.

There is no doubt the Atlanta Tech Village is hugely perceived as a sales-focused tech center. Rightfully so, with guys like Kyle Porter, Johnson CookDevon Wijesinghe (shout out on the $4 mm raise), and David Cummings writing/tweeting about sales and marketing, the product people get drowned out by the noise.

What get’s lost in the cacophony of sales and marketing are stories of product being built. When you look at the people who generate the serendipity in the Atlanta Tech Village, it’s normally the sales folk busting in and out of offices crafting stories about the most recent deal or date. All good fun.

Very few product people have the desire or inclination to talk shop or bust into an office uninvited (like many sales reps do) and shoot the breeze.

Messaging vs. Product

Building a great sales team around an early product where product-market fit was still premature was hard. Keeping sales rep morale sustained while new product iteration comes around is a skill.

The last three months have been a whirlwind at Rivalry. Tejus Parikh came on as CTO, we raised a seed round from Atlanta’s top venture funds, and our product evolved.

Rivalry just released the first-of-it’s-kind, sales coaching platform. Sales coaching is the number one most important thing that never happens. Sales managers in the trenches understand this well. In reality, Rivalry improve sales organization output 19% by breaking down the barriers to sales coaching, providing a framework to sales coaching, and creating a place where all sales coaching documentation occurs.

This message is new and resonating extremely well (I write this with high confidence coming off a week slanging Rivalry to hundreds of folks at Dreamforce).

Messaging doesn’t dictate product and product doesn’t dictate messaging. They are a duality and work closely together.

When played right, through constant iteration, the results are magic.

I’ve sold product on more than one occasion where it’s a grind to show the perceived value — where the next step in the sales process has to be clawed and hustled.

Three months ago, was I a different sales rep? Definitely a little less knowledgable, and maybe a few tips picked up here and there, but nothing has made a more demonstrable change to Rivalry as much as the product.

This is why I write: product reigns supreme.