The missing link between product launches and sales success

Launch new products

Launch new products

Each year companies develop and launch a dazzling array of new products. Some are modifications or minor upgrades of last year’s offerings. Others are extraordinary new products designed to be significant revenue producers, game changers or in some cases “bet the company” entries into the market.

Let’s take a scenario for an extraordinary new product – A lot of work and creativity went into the product design effort. Marketing did great work in investigating target markets and testing the value messaging.  Production and Customer Service were geared up and ready to go.

Unfortunately all too often, even when this is the scenario, the new product fails to produce the desired sales success.  Reason: there is a missing link.  The investment in improving the skills of the sales team to sell the new product is simply not commensurate with the commitment and innovation of the rest of the product launch effort.

This omission indeed constitutes a strategic missing link. Even an extraordinary new product will not sell itself beyond early adopters. The sales team needs not only comprehensive product knowledge and they also need to fine-tune their sales skills, adapting them to customer requirements related to the new product. The more innovative the new product is – the truer this proposition.

Most companies take the first step and provide their sales team with technical training about the new product. But talking about the characteristics of a product and selling the value of the product are two very different things.

To meet the sales expectations for the new product, sales teams need more then standard product knowledge about features and functions. They also need to know to understand the product from the customer perspective:

  • How the product solves problems likely to be encountered by customers.
  • How the product impacts desired business outcomes like: productivity gain, risk 
management, expense reduction, and revenue generation.
  • How to share the data that demonstrates the product does what you say it does … and how to fine-tune that narrative based on whom they are talking with – such as an engineer, financial staff, or senior management.

An additional common pitfall when selling a new product is failing to acknowledge that it almost always involves new strategic selling challenges. 
When selling a new product, top performers need training in the following areas:

  • Understanding the Market including the forces creating the need for the new product.
  • Targeting the Right Companies so they can increase the probability of success.
  • Understanding the Buying Process including key players and competitive threats.

Without the knowledge and skills to sell the new product, sales reps go back to selling what they know because it’s easier. But when provided training focused expressly on selling the new product, the probability of sales success increases dramatically.

To optimize revenue it’s best to learn then launch vs. launch then learn. The sales training investment should be made and sales training implemented before the new product is launched. The more innovative the product, the more important it is to start the skill development before the launch.

To learn more about launching new products, take a read of our FREE white paper, Don’t Let Your Next Product Launch Fail is available as a pdf file.

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©2014 Sales Momentum®

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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One Response to The missing link between product launches and sales success

  1. Fred Swan says:

    Richard, there is a step that also gets missed.
    Including sales people in the new product process at the beginning.
    When marketing or Product & Development teams have something new to add for the company why aren’t the front line sales people brought into the conversation.
    If you can’t sell them on the product, how are they to sell it to the customer.
    Sales rep. buy in to the product is just as importatnt.
    This will also give marketing info to troubleshoot potential problems with the new product in advance.

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