There’s nothing wrong with getting R&D folk involved in a sales opportunity; indeed, some complex products require it. However, using R&D to help close business can vastly increase cost-of-sales.
Consider: every day that an engineer spends helping on a sales engagement ensures that the engineer in question’s current project will be a day late. It is not unusual, especially in small firms, to find an entire R&D group mired in special requests from sales, indefinitely delaying the next version of the product.
Using R&D resources in sales situations also encourages salespeople to sell products or product features that don’t yet exist, effectively committing R&D to do work that’s of use only to that individual customer.
A formal process that allows sales management and engineering management to decide collaboratively what deserves the attention of the R&D team prevents such abuses and ensures that R&D costs applied to sales are applied wisely.
(1) We’ve found a different solution to this problem. We permanently assign fixed tech resources to sales (a “pod”), and include those resources as part of the sales budget. Sales is then measured on net contribution (sales minus cost of sales).
(2) See: Compensate for profit, not revenue.