If your growth strategy requires the introduction of new products and services and/or enhancements to existing lines, you need a well thought out product introduction process. On the surface, it seems simple enough to update the sales team and expect they will effectively deliver the message into the market.
If it's so easy, then why do so many new product launches miss the mark?
While any number of issues can stall a product or service launch, including glitches, the wrong features, or pure timing, most errors in a new product introduction are internal and can be solved. Developing a healthy sales and marketing balance within your organization can not only guarantee strong cohesion between a product launch and those selling it, but also help bolster a successful introduction.
Six common issues can take your new product launch off track.
#1 Marketing talks about features; Sales talks about solutions
The type of information about a new product being passed between marketing and sales can often be the culprit in a failed launch. If the information delivered to the sales team only covers what the product does, and not how it solves a prospect’s problem, the chances of the launch failing rise.
Build communication channels that get at both goals. Sales needs use cases, case studies, and solutions to effectively break the status quo with prospects. Yet, marketing can primarily need features and technologies to make the case. Adapt to both sides and your sales team will thank you.
#2 No messaging alignment
Along with delivering only features, not developing an aligned message for a new product can be just as catastrophic. Without one clear message, developed in tandem with the needs of the sales team, chances are that reps will simply develop their own form of the messaging, leaving every member of the team saying something different.
Develop one message that reps must master and deliver to maximize the effectiveness of the message itself. While the message does not have to necessarily cater to the particulars of every sale, having a firm basis to drive the conversation increases the chances of getting it right and diagnosing problems.
#3 No conversations with the sales team
Part of the lack of cohesion between sales and marketing comes simply from a lack of conversation: sales and marketing don’t have the right process by which to communicate. By ensuring the lines of communication are open between marketing and the front lines, you increase the odds of creating the connective tissue that leads to successful product launches.
Set up whatever it takes to make the connection. For some organizations, this comes in the form of weekly meetings or monthly groups. For others, marketing physically sits within the sales team. FInd the right blalance to strike understanding.
Even with necessarily complex products, a product that is overly challenging for sales reps to master will be even harder to sell. Reps need some mechanism for internalizing a perspective on complex products, including how they should be sold as part of an overall solution. This can take the form of deliberate practice or a “market ready,” short description that reps can use to position the new message. The easier the process is for reps to integrate a new launch into their selling habits, the more likely it is that the product will succeed.
A bonus benefit to less complex messaging is an increased chance that prospects will more readily understand it, lowering sales cycle time and reducing pressure on reps.
#5 No clear territory
Who is responsible for selling a new product? Who has to deliver to the product revenue goal? Without clear ownership of responsibility over a product launch, no marketing effort can succeed. While marketing is not generally tasked with a quota or sales expectation directly, a failed product launch means a negative result for both teams. Be sure to identify who is responsible for delivering success, and provide them with the right resources to reach it. Be sure to line up your business results and sales goals.
#6 No clear goal
While sales will have their own goals regarding product launches, it is important that marketing also track what marks success for a new line. Simple goals can include pipeline growth, number of units sold or increase in average selling price. More complex goals look at product profitability and help to tease out whether the business investments are paying off.