Monday, May 14, 2007

New Product Launches - Speed and Traction

In my last post, I was looking at many of the issues that occur in the field during new product launches. Too many it is exasperating. To me it is simple. We send the sales team out to practice on their best customers and consequently don't get the level of sell in required - hence our low speed to market. More importantly, the sales team aren't equipped to engage the customer in such a way that we maximise their commitment to the new line - hence our lack of traction.

Now before you go and cancel the NPD budget, consider this potential checklist of successful launches:

Do Your Research
Ensure that marketing’s research goes beyond the end consumer:

  • Anticipate retailers’ needs. For any new line we can usually nominate the questions they will ask and the needs they want met.

  • Determine how the new product and accompanying support will meet the retailers need for sales, margin and peace of mind.

  • Develop a matrix of features, advantages and benefits that meet your retailers typical needs.

  • Prepare for their expected objections with appropriate positioning statements.

Develop Your Message
It is important to remember two pertinent facts:

  • You don’t have a lot of time in the sales call.

  • Only 25% of the population prefer to receive information from a salesperson talking. The rest of us want pictures, charts, product and POS samples and interactive discussion.

The simple answer? Get a presenter and ask more questions.

Ensure that your team are equipped with a presenter that:

  • Is as short as possible. No more than 10 pages – we don’t want retailers thinking that they’ve got War & Peace to get through. Find a way to leave the folder of forms and out of date or marginal brochures in the car.

  • Starts with a front page listing typical retailer needs for this product. Our salesperson can use that list to start the conversation - “Before I start, this is a list of the most common needs our retailers want from any new lines. Can you tell me 2 or 3 that are important to you right now?”. This starts the conversation quickly and assists the sales person to get to the heart of the matter quickly – What’s In It For Me!. Its even stronger if your market research has determined more precise retailer needs for this particular launch.

  • Is a concise means of explaining the new product launch to the retailer - Simple but impactful language, Visual representation, Large print

  • Outlines the key features of the new product and accompanying support: Usually 1-2 per page, with a list of advantages and benefits that the salesperson can relate easily back to the retailers needs.

  • Durable. The presenter must last the distance of the launch.

  • Attractive. Make it different to your standard presentation tools. That way the retailer knows that something different is coming.

We only use the presenter to highlight particular points, provide a visual stimulus to the buyer and overcome issues of retailer misunderstanding through language, inexperience and lack of knowledge.

In my next post, I'll look at how you brief the team to maximise traction.

Jason Wenn

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