Millions of dollars are spent on launching the new product, but still new product launches are not successful because but the sales team is often neglected and products are released into the marketplace. Also, statistics reveal that $15M is spent on marketing new products and yet 55-80% of new product launches fail. Most of the sales leaders’ report that the sales force need to do a better job introducing new products to market.
So, how do you train your sales force for a successful product launch. Let’s look at it.
Involve Sales Team From Beginning: Having product knowledge along with sales skills ensure a successful launch The sales force should be involved in the product development from the beginning of the development cycle, not just around the time of product launch. This will help the sales team make a difference between having a product that’s ready to go, and one that’s actually succeeds in the marketplace. The advantage of keeping the sales force in the loop is that they can be used to test the market, identify potential flags, and prime the customers for the product launch.
Develop Sales Readiness Training Materials: As part of the preparation, you must build the marketing collateral, product details, and product demos. All these must be forwarded to the sales team prior to the launch of the program so they come prepared. Create materials focusing on the key points such as the new features or products that you’re launching, who is the buyer persona, product benefits and how it is different from the competitors.
Customize Training: To plan for a successful product launch, you need to plan for an effective training. The sales force comes with different levels of skills, experience, and market knowledge. So there is a chance that the training might be too advanced or too basic for the sales force. It’s better to segregate the sales force on the basis of prior knowledge so that you can deliver appropriate information to each group of sales force. Here engaging them plays a vital role. PowerPoint sessions really don’t serve the purpose. Practical activities such as role-play will help sales people better engage customers.
This is where online learning comes into the picture. A training curriculum can be developed from basic to advanced level. For each module of the curriculum, a pre-test can be conducted and based on the score, they can get into the basic or advanced level module. Here various engaging techniques such as scenario based approach, case study based approach, and guided learning based approach can be used to create the learning modules.
Manage Communications: The sales force has multiple touch points within the company and gets information from multiple channels. They get to know about the product from different channels which makes the message inconsistent and undermines the confidence of the sales force. It’s recommended to have one key contact to impart training and wherein sales force can share their questions or concerns.
On the other hand, the sales force meets the customers and gets some insights which they can share with the product engineers who can in turn improve the product. So, it’s important to have a proper communication channel to manage communications.
Encourage Success: Developing incentive plans is the key for a successful product launch. Usually sales force doesn’t see any connection between their performance and pay. And many managers think that their plans fail to motivate their sales force and that they land up overpaying poor performers. To avoid this situation, product managers need to develop an effective incentive plan. Parameters such as giving bonus to the person who closes a new product deal first could help. This works as a motivating factor for the sales force to perform better.
These are some of the tips and techniques to train your sales force for a successful product launch. Do share your thoughts.