As a technical seller and product manager of enterprise software for nearly ten years, I spent a lot of time with customers. Documentation was always a potential landmine or accelerator to sales and deployments. No matter how obvious it is that overwhelming, disparate, out-of-date documentation can frustrate and totally turn off customers, it’s rarely improved. When I recently pitched Navitome at an event at MIT, I was told by the panel that documentation isn’t sexy. I disagree, and you have to look beyond the surface. Let’s look at the experiences that drove me to lead a documentation startup and assess how exciting they are.
You Can Sell More Software With Good Documentation – Good documentation makes products look straightforward and usable. It helps customers feel comfortable writing a big check because they know they’ll be able to use what they’re buying. It makes them feel that the product, support, and other things you’re giving them will be simple and useful.
More Revenue: Excitement Level = Extremely Exciting (10/10)
Documentation Interactions Can Tell You A Lot About Your Business and Customers – How much time do technical people spend in documentation? A LOT!!! If you track this, the interaction can tell your support people where individual customers went wrong. It can tell your product managers what people are using and where they’re spending time. It can tell your technical sellers, where a customer is in their process during a proof.
Knowing How Customers Are Using Your Software: Excitement Level = Extremely Exciting (10/10)
You Can Address More Opportunities With Good Documentation – You know that awesome product expert you want to have handhold your customer? Well, they can’t be in two places at once. Her well-written document that helps customers get up and running fast can now be at all of your customers. I had documents that I used in tech sales I knew would get us off to a great start in a Proof-of-Concept because I spent about a 100 hours creating them myself!! With Navitome software, I can have built the same documents in a few hours.
Working More Opportunities: Excitement Level = Pretty Exciting (8/10)
Good Documentation Helps Get Software Deployed – There’s nothing worse than selling a lot of software and having little of it deployed. After the excitement of the sale wears off and the experts are on to the next deal, customers are left with the documentation to understand and deploy the software. If it’s not helping them, it’s hurting them and you long-term.
More Deployed Software: Excitement Level = Very Exciting (9/10)
Good Documentation Helps Drive Innovation – What happens when customers make a mistake, and they think it’s a product issue? They open a support ticket. What happens when support people are overwhelmed? The tough support workload gets pushed to experts and development. What happens when experts are working on support workload all day? They’re not innovating. Clear, customized, actionable documentation helps prevent these costly mistakes.
More Innovation: Excitement Level = Very Exciting (9/10)
While you might disagree on the excitement levels of these, you can certainly agree that they’re all exciting. After living this in the field and product management, I knew that great documentation leads to the most interesting stuff in the software business.
At Navitome, we’re turning documentation into a revenue driver! I’m excited. Are you? Let me know at email@example.com.