Business Insights from CLUTCH President, Troy Schroeder
Minneapolis, Minn. (October, 2020) – New products can be the lifeblood of a successful organization. That’s because NEW almost always generates attention and a consistent pipeline of successful product innovations and introductions can help companies build or extend long-term, sustained advantage over otherwise commoditized competition. That’s the good news.
The bad, or potentially bad, news is that in addition to the reality that bringing a new product to market effectively and successfully isn’t easy, the one team you likely will rely on most at product launch may just be the least excited about it. Because here’s the thing. Your sales team and your channel partners’ sales team may not see the idea of that new product as a great thing for them.
What’s the issue? The most successful salespeople have built their personal reputations on selling what works and taking care of customers when things don’t work. But, they only have so many chips in their stash with customers that they are willing to risk and cash in on something they don’t have to; so before they sell new products, and potentially put some of those hard-earned credibility chips on the table, they need to have the confidence that the homework’s been done and the product will deliver.
To increase that confidence we tell our clients to do two things. Let your sales team behind the curtain earlier in the new product development process and arm them with more knowledge, skills and tools to effectively represent the product to their customers. Too often, the people closest to the customer are the last to know what they need to know to deliver on their part of the promise. And their “new product training” consists of “come to the sales meeting and the product manager will do a presentation on the high points of New Product A.” And, then everyone goes home and does the same thing they were doing before the meeting.
The part of most product launches that’s easy to quantify is the amount you invest in upfront R+D, market research, product strategy and positioning and manufacturing / building or coding; the harder part is quantifying what the downstream revenue development is going to look like. While there’s no perfect formula for that one, I’d encourage you to make the investment in more “final mile” insurance on your launch – learning and development and training. The ROI of an effective learning and development program can be exponential when you have more consistency in the knowledge and messaging around a new product. It will increase your reps’ confidence, freeing them up to talk to more customers without fear of cashing in those limited chips they’ve worked so hard to build up over time. And, relatively speaking…a solid learning program is a small investment compared to the money you’ve already spent to get a product ready to go to market.
CLUTCH is a hybrid consultancy and agency focused on helping B2B businesses find and realize their peak potential. As business acceleration experts, everything the firm does is designed to drive the growth of revenue and opportunity. The firm combines a mix of strategic consulting, marketing communications and lead generation, and learning and development services to consistently produce business results for clients.
For more information visit clutchperformance.com.