You’re probably all-too-familiar with this stat: 55-80% of new products flop, depending on how generously you’re willing to define success. And according to CSO Insights’ 2014 Sales Performance Optimization Study, nearly half of B2B sales leaders feel that their teams “need improvement” in effectively introducing new products to the market.
So how can you overcome this ‘failure to launch’ phenomenon?
It comes down to avoiding three key product launch mistakes:
1. Turning your launch into product training versus enabling selling stories
The bulk of most B2B product kickoffs and training focus too much on precisely the wrong information: all the cool, dazzling new features. You treat your launches like they are product training, but product knowledge won’t drive decisions. Before your salespeople earn the right to talk about your cool new solution, they must first be able to give your customers a reason to think about changing the way they are doing things today.
Your alternative: Launch your product to your salespeople with the same message you expect them to deliver to your customers. First, tell them a powerful story that helps them show customers which business objectives are at risk if they stick with the status quo and what unforeseen or undervalued changes in their environment are threatening their desired outcomes. In other words, first give them a Why Change story.
Once you’ve convinced customers of the urgency to move from status quo, your salespeople have earned the right to prove Why You are the best alternative. They need a follow-up story that speaks specifically to how you solve the identified problems in a unique or advantaged way.
2. Expecting the sales team to seek out marketing messaging and tools after the launch
Most marketing organizations now set up extensive web portals and microsites to support their new product launches. Here’s the problem: most salespeople won’t search out those sites after the event, and if they do get there, they are overwhelmed with the amount of content and limited amount of context for how to use it. It’s a prescription for low adoption of your marketing tools, fading momentum for your new product, and poor first-year sales results.
Your alternative: Stop trying to drag your salespeople to your portal or microsite. Instead push the new story to them in engaging, chunky bites of content and best-practice story delivery examples. Make sure it works the way they work, and how they work, by serving up this information on their mobile devices. And, don’t rely on just one push, make sure to provide compelling, fun, educational reinforcement videos on key storytelling skills for several weeks to keep your launch top of mind.
3. Not engaging your first-line managers to coach their teams in support of the new product launch
Most B2B marketers focus their efforts on outbound launch communications (to drive customer awareness and leads) and tools to help the sales team sell the new product. They treat sales managers as part of the sales team, expecting them to figure out how to support the new product after the initial launch. Unfortunately, managers are often busier and more distracted than their sales teams. Your product launch is just another (new) item on their “to do” lists…one that probably won’t make it to the top. At the same time, your sales managers are your first line of defense in ensuring the adoption and consistent delivery of your new message. You can’t afford to overlook them.
Your alternative: Provide coaching resources specifically targeted at your managers to make it easy for them to host a local “stand and present” event to reinforce your new product messaging. Help them communicate their support for your new product and create opportunities for their team to try on your new message in front of the internal team, instead of your customers.
Your company invests too much time and money in developing your new products to risk a weak launch to your sales team. You owe it to yourself to learn more. Interested? Watch this video:
- Product Development Institute (PDI) and American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) product development benchmarking study
- Considerations for a Successful B2B Product Launch