You read that right. DevRel is sales.
Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain myself. Have you ever given a conference presentation or demo, had a developer ask you questions afterward, and later that same developer became a customer?
Who influenced that sale? 🤨
Are we traditional sales? Absolutely not. However, DevRel's efforts and relations do contribute to the company's total revenue. I know the true skeptics are ready to fight me in the comments, but DevRel teams are influential to a company's revenue. The whole premise of developer relations is to leverage developer peers to engage with developers because they don't want anything to do with a salesperson or a marketing campaign.
We deliver conference presentations and host events. We create meaningful content that solves technical problems. We make friends everywhere we go and have a strong network. These are all things that developer relations practitioners do every day, and these efforts attract developers. Therefore, they also attract paying customers too. The difference is that developer relations need to stay authentic to their relationship & community-building roots to gain trust with developers. Therefore, measuring a DevRel team with a sales quota is bound to fail, but reporting how DevRel influenced the company's revenue is just smart business.
Are you reporting revenue influenced?
The problem isn't whether DevRel is or isn't sales, though. The problem is that most developer relations teams aren't reporting their influence on revenue. You can tell me all day long that DevRel teams aren't measured by revenue, but which teams have we seen laid off the most this year in tech? DevRel.
My pre-tech career was in business, so I know if a function or team doesn't contribute to the bottom line, it will be cut when times get tough. And honestly, it's bound to get questioned every step of the way even when times are good. Sound familiar, DevRel practitioners, getting questioned every step of the way? It's because we're not properly reporting the full extent of our impact on the organization.
DQLs to Revenue-Influenced
If your team is reporting DQLs (DevRel Qualified Leads), reporting revenue-influenced should be fairly easy. Track down where that lead went and if a sale ever surfaced. Before you know it, you have a list of deals that your DevRel team influenced. Who's just a cost center now?!
If you're not tracking DQLs, you can still capture a revenue-influenced data point, but the work is a little harder. You will need to more deeply understand the impact of your efforts and if your efforts contributed to a deal. In many DevRel roles, I would occasionally play a sales engineer role. I'd be asked to join a call or event where I could use my lovely personality and tech chops to win over a prospective customer. These efforts are great to capture for revenue influenced.
We may also find ourselves converting a developer to a customer by the end of a week-long conference. You're just being a great developer advocate and supporting a peer, but that's all impact that needs to be properly reported.
If you're doing DevRel well, every function of your org should feel your impact, but your executives should see it.
Okay, okay, DevRel isn't sales in a traditional sense, but we surely influence revenue, and we should ensure these metrics are seen and known across the company.