Nick Gavronsky has had a unique experience working at Betterment, a successful financial services technology company, that sells its software to both consumers and enterprises. This unique experience gives him a perspective on the differences between software development for consumer products and enterprise software.

 

He outlines the main differences in the snippet of the interview above. Most of my experience has been focused on selling software to enterprises. As Nick alludes, when you’re selling to enterprise customers, you have another constituent who is extremely important to your success – sales. At times, you and your sales team will disagree on priorities. You have a mutual desire to do the best thing for the market, but at times, the sales team will be in the market selling functionality ahead of product development. This can create a stressful situation for you and your team, but it’s important to the sales organization that you set clear expectations on delivery. They don’t want to sell something that won’t be delivered, but they do want to know what’s going to be available to new customers because sales cycles in enterprise software can last months.

In consumer software, your ability to predict exactly what will be delivered in 3-6 months is less important. You can typically use your larger customer base to test new functionality, receive immediate feedback, and implement changes in an agile way. For enterprise software, it can be a little more tedious, especially if you only have a couple customers. Testing and beta functionality need to be over communicated, so your customers are aware that some experiences may not be ideal, but you’re rewarding them by giving the beta customers an open line to your product team to help guide product development.

If you’re interested in learning more about product management, please check out my Udemy Course on building products at startups.