Turning Users into Advocates: The Secret Sales Weapon of Developer Relations

Developer Relations (DevRel) teams play an instrumental – and often underestimated – role in driving sales through cultivating engaged and passionate users. While they may not carry quotas, world-class DevRel professionals can become a company’s strongest sales asset by organically creating advocates.

The most effective DevRel teams focus on empowering developers to find success and scale impact with products rather than aggressive marketing. They nurture loyalty through authentic community building and enable users to become influencers.

This advocacy can spark viral adoption as developers recommend solutions they enjoy working with to peers and colleagues. Word-of-mouth referrals are incredibly powerful sales tools. In an industry cluttered with technologies promising similar capabilities, the endorsement of a trusted community member serves as credible validation.

DevRel as a growth driver manifests in activities like:

Creating Demo Apps and Sample Code – DevRel professionals build working prototypes, open-source libraries, and code snippets that showcase product functionality. This allows developers to experience tools hands-on rather than just reading marketing brochures.

Publishing Technical Content – From blog posts and tutorials to videos and podcasts, DevRel creates educational resources that provide value to developers evaluating or learning about a product.

Organizing Conferences and Meetups – DevRel professionals plan and sponsor events that bring users together to exchange ideas, best practices, and use cases. These forums nurture connections and organically spread awareness.

Incentivizing Influencers – Identifying and empowering recognized developer influencers with early access, additional support, and promotional opportunities incentivizes organic advocacy that resonates across communities.

Monitoring Discussions – DevRel keeps a pulse on developer conversations across forums, social media, and Q&A sites. This allows them to identify pain points, feature requests, and opportunities to assist.

Excelling at Relationship Development – DevRel staff use above-average emotional intelligence to build genuine connections with users. Their passion is contagious.

While these activities focus on enabling developers rather than closing deals, they have tangential benefits for sales:

Reduced Risk – Hands-on experimentation gives developers confidence in a product’s capabilities before they buy. This increases willingness to pay and speeds up deal cycles.

Qualified Leads – When developers organically advocate for a product, it signals that budget and authority exist within an organization to purchase it.

Shortened Sales Cycles – Solutions that come recommended from trusted peers require less time for evaluations and proof of concepts before closing deals.

Expansion Opportunities – Happy customers provide introductions to other teams and groups who could benefit from adopting a product, allowing for upsell and cross-sell.

Referral Partnerships – Developers telling peers about effective solutions creates opportunities to formalize affiliate and reseller partnerships.

Of course, assessing the impact of DevRel requires going beyond vanity metrics like event attendance and content views. Forward-looking teams quantify success using indicators like:

– Sentiment Across Communities – Are developers passionately endorsing or criticizing products?

– Trial Sign Ups Driven by Content – How many quality leads result from tutorials, demos, etc?

– Sales Qualified Leads Influenced – Which prospect discussions reference DevRel activities?

– Revenue From Referral Partners – How much pipeline is driven by informal advocates?

– Customer Satisfaction and Retention – Are loyal users becoming promoters?

– Time to Close Deals – Is advocacy shortening sales cycles?

Not all DevRel activities convert to revenue directly. But by empowering developers, responding to feedback, and building trust, DevRel creates passionate users who become a company’s best salespeople. This community advocacy scales go-to-market strategies in a way that siloed marketing and sales cannot match.

Forward-looking companies recognize developers make or break the success of any technology. DevRel plays a crucial role in positioning solutions to maximize adoption and loyalty. Rather than treating developers as transactions, they focus on enabling their journey and path to impact.

This authentic approach breeds advocates who drive growth in a scalable yet organic way. In an increasingly crowded marketplace, developing a beloved brand and community may be the ultimate competitive advantage. The growing strategic importance of DevRel signifies that companies recognize developers as the doorkeepers to customer success.