Most companies seem to be pretty good about doing what they do. The one thing that they tend to be really bad at is Product Launch. This is the introrduction of new Products and/or Services into the market. Companies seem to be able to get the Product or Service available. What they have an issue with is the Sales of these newly introuced Products. I want to talk about what I have seen, this will be generalized as it comes directly from my experience with customers.
I think the first thing that goes wrong is the Inside/Out perspective that I talk about as part of Alignment. In general, a vendor is not the most important thing to any customer. Just because you have something new, don’t expect anybody to realize it. You have to have it in front of them more than one time for it to stick. They know about you for what they buy from you. They may not realize that you do more than what you did together in your first transaction. It is important at all times to keep an Outside-In view – in other words a view from the perspective of the customer. If you do that, you need to think about how they will consider you in this new context.
And it is Context that is the second point. Context in this case is that the Products/Services are likely to be adjacent in customer base or service to your original Products/Services. This means that the customer buying is slightly different or that they are buying it for a slightly different reason. You are likely to have new competitors and a different value proposition. This positioning must be done during the introduction to the market of the new Products and Services. It is important that people see the new Product as filling a niche in the market all on its own. This is true even if you expect to do most of the Sales as part of the bundle.
The third point is that the introduction of these Products/Services require separate goals and objectives. An expanding market or growing company might cover up for the failure of a new Product to succeed. But if the Product is going to succeed, then we need to find the path to success for it. The only way to do that is to set up a plan with metrics and adjust it over time. Without the plan and the metrics, the Product or Service will not get the attention it deserves nor will it be adapted to the conditions as they happen.
Finally, there needs to be a level of completeness to the Launch. This means that current customers need to be notified. New potential prospects as well. Websites need to be updated. Marketing materials need to be created. Sales needs to be trained on how to sell the new Products/Services. Winning anecdotes need to be spread to overcome the fear that comes with new Products in Sales. Without that comprehensive plan and execution, new Products are never given a chance to win.
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