B2B Sales Leaders and Managers
Considerations when launching a new proposition
A new product or service is launched. Ambitious targets are set. Marketers work with their agencies on campaigns, collateral and channel support. Excitement is high in head office… then, six months later, the recriminations start.
The sales team complain that marketers do not truly understand the customers, that the proposition was secondary to the completion, and that the price is set too high.
Marketers complain that the sales team failed to get behind the proposition, that they were obstructive from the start, and that they are unadaptable. The hopes and energy behind the launch fade, and the marketers start focusing on the ‘next big thing’.
How can sales managers help avoid this common storyline?
1. Get involved
Sales and channel leaders should be involved from the earliest stages of development. It’s far more efficient to influence the direction of new propositions when you’re part of the proposition team. Combining marketing and sales teams ensures that:
- There is sharp insight behind the proposition that resonates with sales channels and customers;
- The customer experience and customer priorities are fully considered at the development stage of the proposition;
- The customer’s buying cycle is taken into account, with strategies put in place to accelerate customers through the cycle;
- A thorough training and communications plan is developed, with all the information and support necessary to tailor the proposition to each of the sales teams’ targets;
- A feedback loop is in place to provide post-launch refinement and enhancement of the proposition;
- Sales feel increased commitment to the proposition, because their colleagues have been involved and support has been provided.
2. Less is more – it takes time to sell new ideas
Some companies launch multiple new propositions in an attempt to defend their market, but building a customer’s desire to change the status quo takes time – perhaps many months, depending on the size, complexity and urgency of the need being addressed. As a sales leader you should encourage the launch of fewer, better propositions with stronger focus and sustained support.
3. Don’t skip the beta tests and case studies
Nothing destroys a salesperson’s confidence like a poorly tested proposition, or builds it more effectively than clear, documented evidence of delighted customers.
If the proposition has a technical element, salespeople want to see evidence that it works, so that they can sell it with confidence. This may appear obvious, but far too often launch deadlines are met by reducing the planned testing schedules.
4. Deliver training in a way that enhances sales skills and accelerates sales
Two companies are competing with not dissimilar propositions. One provides a web link to detailed product and technical information and informs the sales teams of their targets. The marketers believe it is the sales team’s job to work out how to sell the product, so move on to their next project.
The other company runs face-to-face and webinar workshops that explain the value the proposition creates, how the proposition is to be sold and to whom. Sales skills are honed and experience gained using scenario-based simulations and role-plays. Accounts are targeted, with the value of the proposition to the account and strategies for dealing with the competition assessed. The marketing team provides full answers to the sales team’s questions. Coaching is given, with a resource centre of case studies, ROI tools, FAQs, a blog moderated by the lead marketer, and quizzes that check on product knowledge. The marketers actively engage with the sales teams, believing them to be their most valuable resource.
If a new proposition launch is important, the company should properly plan and invest in training for the sales team. The company that invests in enhanced sales enabled product training will benefit from shorter sales cycles, higher conversion rates and higher margins, as the sales teams are equipped to sell on value rather than price.