API First Design is a clever sales strategy

Posted on Nov 19, 2018

API First approach is getting more and more popular. In basic principle it means that your API is the first user interface of your application. Therefore it should get the biggest attention in product development and design. Surprisingly many products could use this approach to increase their sales.

Let’s look at the challenge first. API First product development is easier to plan than implement. If you develop a new product, sales guys typically say that you need to deliver first something top notch for the customer’s key decision makers. And this should happen even before the product is ready. But that’s not the point.

Typically you are not selling API First products in traditional customer meetings. Instead, the idea is to make your product easily available for those who will be responsible for implementation: Developers. When your customer’s developers start using your product, it’s just the matter of time to convert it into sales.

Probably the most popular example of the API First Design is Contentful. It’s a fairly simple Content Management System, but what makes it exceptional is that they don't try to sell it directly to the content editors. Instead, Contentful starts by describing to developers how simple and elegant this CMS product is to integrate inside any app or website. As a consequence, developers become the enthusiastic evangelists that are later selling Contentful to content editors inside their organisations.

It's a great goal for any software product sales: Someone inside customer’s organisation is selling your product to the key decision makers. You may kick one of your expensive sales guys out and invest that money into better product development. That’s a good reason why tech entrepreneurs love this strategy.

Would you like to learn more? API First Design is a state of the art software development approach. It’s easy to learn, but difficult to implement. To learn more see for example ProgrammableWeb’s article series "Understanding API First Design".

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I'm the Founder of Growhold - a customer data platform that drives conversions for product teams. I'm also providing consulting services as an Interim Manager and Agile Coach. With 20 years of work experience I help global software businesses and distributed teams to perform better.

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