Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Product Launches - Briefing the Sales Team

In my last post on NPD I examined the Presenter. Many people call this the deck, the focus, trade folder etc. Whatever you call it though, get it to the team early.

Bring your sales team together in a forum that focusses on three essential areas. Knowledge – what they know about the new product. Skills - how they apply what they know. Attitude - how confident they are with the new line.

Too often time and budget constraints create a “technical handover” by marketing and leaves the sales people to their own devices. This creates an inconsistent message to your market. Again, if one of the biggest issues in NPD is speed to and traction in the market, how many favours are we doing ourselves when the sales team’s only opportunity to develop and practice their sales conversation is in the field?

Most sales organisations target their top 20% of outlets in the first couple of weeks of any new product launch. An underprepared sales team will undersell and possibly damage your relationships through sales calls that take too long and fail to meet buyers’ needs.

So bring the team together and develop an integrated agenda that gives them the knowledge they need:

  • Technical information (pricing, ATL spend, POS, trade support etc)
  • Anticipated retailer needs for the product
  • Features, advantages and benefits that we can link back to their needs
  • Expected buyer objections and useful responses
The skills to apply that knowledge:

  • Building rapport
  • Questioning and Listening
  • Selling Benefits
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Closing the Sale
  • Negotiating the Terms
  • Use of the presenter

And fosters the attitudes needed: confidence, enthusiasm and tenacity.

  • Sharing experience in discussion and syndicate groups
  • Skills practice to trial, customise and cement their approach to the trade

Imagine! A salesperson that uncovers needs quickly and uses the right benefits to maximise the retailer’s value proposition. Exactly the grounding you need to seek more facings, better display, less trade spend, promotional compliance and greater stockweight.

If you're looking for a suitable agenda and suggested content, email me.

There is one last thing that needs to be done before the team is unleashed:

Measure Your Message
Don’t limit measurement merely to distribution or display objectives. Focus the sale on the drivers necessary for sell through:

  • Prominent positions
  • Facings
  • Correct ticketing
  • Off locations
  • Correct and attractive POS
  • Speed to market. Set it up now.
  • No out of stocks
  • Compliance to the promotional program
  • Outlet level marketing to enhance the launch for local conditions.

Design a measurement tool specifically for your launch. Designed correctly it allows you to:

  • Develop timely strategies for specific Trade issues, for example low facings.
  • Develop timely strategies for specific Team issues, for example high trade spend may indicate poor negotiation skills.

Again, let me know if you'd like some pointers on suitable measurement approaches.

There is no silver bullet for successful Sales Launches. However, with the right research, preparation and measurement you can reach higher distribution, more display objectives, better coverage and lower trade spend. After all, that’s why you have the sales team in the first place.

Jason Wenn

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