It would seem the answer to which comes first; sales or product, would be product. How do you generate a sale without a product to sell? The answer is that they both have to happen together. It’s an iterative process!
This is where many companies, especially small businesses and start-up companies, get themselves into trouble. Don’t get caught in the trap that you need revenue, but cannot make sales because your product is not yet ready to sell. You must find a way to start making sales quickly as you continue to refine your product.
Remember that you only need a product that removes the key pain point to get your target customer to start buying it. Developing product beyond that point before making sales can kill your company. If the development cycle is taking too long, identify a minimum product set directed at a sub-market or niche market to get started.
You can add enhancements into later releases of the product and expand your market coverage at that time. But in the beginning, by initiating sales early, you have proven a market exists for your product, plus you will get real customer feedback on enhancements that they value and will pay for in the future releases.
Last, but not least, by focusing on revenue first, you will stay value/customer driven and not product driven. What matters is finding a pain point that a customer will pay to remove. Paying you cash for your product speaks volumes over your own ideas of what features your product should possess.