Each year companies develop 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.
Unfortunately all too often, even when the new product falls into the extraordinary category, the product launch effort more closely resembles an escape plan than a well-designed blueprint for success. Because of the number of product launches, the importance for success and the high failure rate, the status quo constitutes a problem that cannot be ignored.
Some of the factors driving this scenario are difficult to predict and control – others are not. An example of the latter is the lack of cooperation and integration of the work efforts between marketing and sales. In today’s market, the omission of a coordinated effort between marketing and sales for building the success of new products constitutes organizational malfeasance.
Let’s take a look at some ideas for addressing this dilemma both from a marketing and sales perspective starting with marketing.
Marketing. Recently Jeff Goins published a blog in Entrepreneur on the fundamentals that marketing needs to get right when it comes to their contribution for launching a new product. Three stood out.
- Establish awareness. Manage the launch date and inform the potential customers what they need to do on that date.
- Generate demand. Do something for the potential customers before the launch that builds a relationship with the customers and creates a demand for the new product.
- Create urgency. Create a sense of urgency so it’s difficult to put off considering the product when it is launched.
In addition to the fundamentals marketing needs to coordinate with sales on how to respond to the changes that have occurred in customer’s buying process over the last several years.
Today customers know a lot about the competitive companies and products before they even contact sellers. Therefore marketing needs to work with their sales team to provide the information necessary to educate the customer before the sales process begins, as well as, throughout the various buying stages as the sales progresses. And, they need to provide their sales teams the information necessary to become informed about the buyer’s company, industry and market.
To say the least, the process for educating the customer and informing the sales team is an entirely different story then simply producing product brochures and feature specification handouts.
Sales. New product launches often fail to deliver expected results because the sales force isn’t able to sell the new product. Money and time is spent on R&D, manufacturing, packaging, and marketing but the investment in improving the skills of the sales team to sell the new product is simply not commensurate with the overall effort. Specifically:
- Companies don’t focus on developing the sales skills, don’t train the sales force in applying the product and competitive knowledge in the sales setting, nor do they do a good job of reinforcing the training that is received by the sales force – so very little of the new product training “sticks.”
- Sales managers don’t properly coach sales reps to sell the new product. Some lack the skills to coach their sales teams while others don’t know the best practices for selling the new product any better than the sales team.
The result? Sales reps have difficulty selling the new product so they just go back to selling what they know. When the results are compounded – the dreams for the new product success never materialize.
How might a company turn this result around – train your sales force then launch the product rather than launch the product then train your sales force. For some specific best practices review the following infographic.
For more information about launching new products download our whitepaper – Don’t Let Your Next Product Launch Fail.
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