3 data strategies for selling to developers


Image of a bar chart and rising lines on a blue background to represent sales growth to developers via a coherent data strategy.
Image Credits: Ong-ad Nuseewor (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Sam Richard


Sam Richard is VP of Growth at OpenView.

More posts from Sam Richard

Yes, developers are a tough crowd. They hate being sold to, and it’s pretty easy for traditional marketing campaigns to fall flat with them because they’d much rather get a recommendation from a colleague. Failed campaign after failed campaign has led many software company executives to throw up their hands and declare all sales and marketing to be pointless.

And that’s just wrong. Selling to developers isn’t impossible — it’s just difficult. I cover why it’s difficult and offer examples of exceptional developer-focused marketing in my new playbook. Part of selling to developers involves balancing two things: building out a strong organic marketing function and targeting your audience with the right message at the right time throughout their buyer journey.

Easier said than done, right?

Yep. I see it all the time. Part of what’s blocking marketers from widening the top of the funnel (driving more developers to sign up for their free tools) for their developer-focused businesses is ensuring they have the right data and measurement capabilities in place to understand how much impact their activities have on the business.

That’s mostly because these marketers, community managers and developer relations experts have the most luck with organic marketing. In this industry, organic marketing is one of the most challenging to measure.

Organic marketing means investing in channels like referrals, organic search, organic social (community) and direct traffic to your website (brand). New users from paid marketing, banner ads, events or sales reps (the most measurable channels) don’t count as organic. We measure the fruits of these efforts with a new metric called Natural Rate of Growth.

In a digital, multi-touch-point world, it’s getting more challenging to measure which users hear about your brand from which channels. That’s why tools like Orbit, Tribe and Mighty have gained traction so quickly.

That’s all good, and it’ll be a huge boon for community managers in time, but these tools still don’t solve some of the core data strategy issues I see developer-focused software companies fighting. These quick tips should help your team align around what needs to be done and what’s just a “nice to have” so that selling to developers feels less like a battle.


  1. Treat data like a product where a core end user is the go-to-market side of the team.
  2. Map your customer’s journey from discovery to expansion and track it religiously.
  3. Don’t overthink it.

Treat data like a product

Some of the brightest minds in tech have struck off on their own to create software that solves a real problem in the market. They’re great builders, but they’re not necessarily great at looking at their product from a commercial standpoint. That is, they know what’s required to make the product delightful, but they don’t know how to communicate that delight or measure it effectively.

Usually, these businesses are running analytics off of a production (or production replication) database designed to actually run the product itself — it has no outputs or measures that align to the go-to-market side of the house. These teams are usually tying data back to customer relationship management (CRM) accounts using the account name or core email address.

It’s a hot mess. Don’t be a hot mess.

Sit down with the leaders and ops-focused employees on the revenue side of the house and ask them what product data they’re interested in, how they would use it (short term and long term), and how they define data-driven decisions. Assign a product manager to this and develop a minimum viable product and a roadmap. Dedicate 10% to 20% of your resources to getting this up and running, and then support its growth long term.

When your go-to-market team has access to data in the way that they understand it (i.e., real users, their product usage and real long-term cohorts to study), you’ll be surprised at how well teams align in your next roadmap planning meeting.

Map your customer’s journey

By now, you hopefully have every little bit of your product wired up to be measured. There’s nothing worse than marketing an awesome new feature everyone wants and then realizing you can’t tell how they’re using it.

It’s great when you can understand how a user is interacting with your software, but it’s fantastic when you can understand how they found you, what their decision-making process looked like to give you a try, and then how they discovered value.

Only some of this is supplied by server-side product analytics. The rest hinges upon tools often overlooked by the developer-focused founder community. I’m talking about good ol’ Google Analytics.

More often than not, Google lets me know what type of content is working, what isn’t and what needs to be updated. You’d be shocked at how many companies don’t understand SEO and how Google works, so they just ignore it.

Don’t overthink it

One of the greatest product-led operators out there said something that really stuck with me. Fareed Mosavat, former head of product at Slack, said that he believes companies should only track five to 10 events in their product. As a data professional, I was shocked to hear this.

Then I thought about it a little more. I worked with early-stage companies that were sitting on mounds of data and assumed they needed to hire a machine learning scientist to make sense of it all (they were B2B startups with 50 customers or more — we’re not talking social networks here).

Mosavat is right: You’ve got to keep it simple. Let the ideal customer’s journey be your guide with lots of inputs from your go-to-market team. There’s so much off-the-shelf technology out there that helps you get the work done, as well as amazing communities of professionals who have done it before.

The only thing holding you back is your attitude toward leveraging data to sell to your core customers. But when you think about it, doesn’t having the right message at the right time really provide a great experience for you? Isn’t it awesome when a business knows you might be stuck on something or helps you unlock a feature you didn’t know you needed?

I love these experiences, and I want more software businesses to have them. They just have to use data the right way.

Develop a buyer’s guide to educate your startup’s sales team and customers

More TechCrunch

Andreessen Horowitz’s American Dynamism fund has established a new fellowship program aimed at introducing top engineers and technologists to venture investing, a move that could help the firm less obvious…

a16z’s American Dynamism team launches program to introduce technical minds to VC

Another fintech startup, and its customers, has been gravely impacted by the implosion of banking-as-a-service startup Synapse. Copper Banking, a digital banking service aimed at teens, notified its customers on…

Teen fintech Copper had to emergency discontinue its banking, debit products

Autodesk — the 3D tools behemoth — has acquired Wonder Dynamics, a startup that lets creators quickly and easily make complex characters and visual effects using AI-powered image analysis. The…

Autodesk acquires AI-powered VFX startup Wonder Dynamics

Farcaster, a blockchain-based social protocol founded by two Coinbase alumni, announced on Tuesday that it closed a $150 million fundraise. Led by Paradigm, the platform also raised money from a16z…

Farcaster, a crypto-based social network, raised $150M with just 80K daily users

Microsoft announced on Tuesday during its annual Build conference that it’s bringing “Windows Volumetric Apps” to Meta Quest headsets. The partnership will allow Microsoft to bring Windows 365 and local…

Microsoft’s new ‘Volumetric Apps’ for Quest headsets extend Windows apps into the 3D space

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

8 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI