Developing and launching a new product is one of the most expensive and riskiest efforts for any organization. It’s not uncommon for organizations to invest heavily in the development effort and then do a haphazard job when it comes to the launch phase. 

There’s a lot of moving parts to successfully bringing a new product to market.  When your new product isn’t achieving the results you anticipated it may be time to rethink your launch process. Hopefully prior to the launch you did homework. You developed a compelling value proposition and positioning platform, completed your segmentation,  know your buyer, their personas,  mapped and operationalized customer buying process. If for some reason you and the launch team haven’t completed this work hold off on your launch until you do. If you have, well done!

Before you develop and launch your new product define how success will be measured. Focus on outcome metrics such as a product adoption rate, time to market, time revenue, etc. As well as performance targets for the launch itself. The type of product your launching will affect how success will be measured. For example, is this a new product to the market? Is it a major innovation for the market? Or is it an enhancement to an existing product or portfolio? 

You cannot wing a launch. It is important to document and communicate the product launch plan, process and timeline. Hopefully you’ve created a schema or classification system for how new products are brought to market. Some products are worthy of greater investment than others.  Using the examples above, a major innovation might warrant a full-court press whereas an enhancement or derivative product only a few elements. Use your scheme to guide your launch. Regardless, it is worthwhile to develop a formal and comprehensive integrated product launch plan that includes at least these components:

  • Launch objectives
  • Launch strategy
  • Action Plan
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Product positioning
  • Target Market and buying process (journey maps)
  • Sales Channel Readiness

To get you started we’ve outlined a checklist of steps to ensure your product launch has the foundation it needs to achieve the necessary sales velocity and buyer adoption. 

 

New Product Launch Checklist

Product launch checklist.

Complete the checklist as part of your product launch.

6 months prior to launch:

  • Create your buyer personas and scenarios.
    You can learn more about Personas in our article Bridging the Gap: Sales Enablement Tools and Personas
  • Map the Customer Buying Cycle/Pipeline.
    You can read more about the buying pipeline in our article Metrics and the Buying Pipeline. The best way to complete these two steps is to interview buyers in the target market.
  • Engage the Sales organization in the launch plan.
    The ultimate measure of success of the product launch will be product adoption by existing and new customers.  This will require the Sales team to be effective at selling the product. The more the product is different from what they sell today the more involved they need to be in the launch process. Start working on the tools they will need. An unprepared  Sales organization may not be able to leverage the launch to produce the sales goals and will revert to selling products they are more comfortable/familiar with in order to achieve their quota.
  • Develop your launch plan and performance targets.
    Establish a launch owner. Someone must ultimately make the hard calls and coordinate the execution. Be realistic with your time frames and  your organization’s ability to execute. Identify critical path issues and potential readiness gaps and prepare accordingly. This is the time to leverage your schema.  Full-court press efforts will entail a more extensive plan that includes influencers/press, customer and prospects, employees especially sales, partners, and ongoing efforts associated with events, digital presence and website.  Video demos, online customer meetings, and analyst communication are often a part of these launches. Products for example that might be in your tier 3 category may receive a much more streamlined launch. Once you define the type of launch, apply the next steps accordingly.

3 Months Prior to Launch:

  1. Develop the programs to create conversation and consideration.
    Rarely do new products sell themselves. While it would be nice to believe, “if we build it, they will come,” this unfortunately isn’t generally the case. Use your personas and buying cycle to determine which programs are needed when.
  2. Develop your sales tools.
    The goals of sales tools are to enable the sales team and to help move buyers from one stage of their buying cycle to the next. Before you produce a sales tool, be sure it has a place on the buying cycle map. White papers, case studies, application notes, evaluation guides, power point presentations, self-guided tours, use cases, online demos are all example of viable sales tools as long as they support a step in the customer’s buying cycle.  At a minimum develop use cases, personas and playbooks.
  3. Prep your sales team and partners.
    Build the presentation your sales team will use and make sure the sales team understands the launch plan, the tools, and the programs that will be used to launch and sell the product.

2 Months Prior to Launch:

  1. Identify the Buyers. Have a document that details
    • who they are
    • the problems they are experiencing and the impact of these problems on their organization
    • where to find these buyers
    • how to engage the buyers
    • what buying objections the sales person might encounter and how to overcome them
    • how the new product solves the problems 
    • information about who they may compete against what the competitors offer to solve the same problem, the pros and cons of the competitive offers how to lay landmines for the competition
  2. Develop your customer, influencer/analyst, partner and sales readiness training content.
    These materials need to be more than information about the features of the product. Your training materials should include but not be limited to information about: The more the new product is going to affect one or more of these five items, the more content you’ll need for your different audiences and the more training your sales team is going to need:

    • Change in buyers
    • Change in buying cycle
    • Change in price
    • Change in technology
    • Change in product/market maturity Those items being affected need to be addressed in the sales training materials and session
  3. Establish win/loss analysis process. Win/loss analysis is essential to helping make product, marketing, or sales course corrections. The sooner the analysis is completed the sooner course corrections can be made. Win/loss analysis is about learning what you don’t know about where the deal got stuck in the buying cycle so you can adjust messaging, marketing programs and sales deals.

1 Month Prior to Launch

  1. Conduct sales training.
    Sales people work against a quota. If they believe this new product will help them achieve their quota they will get on board. If they don’t believe the product will help them achieve their quota, then all bets are off. Therefore you sales training needs to focus on how to prepare them to sell the product.
  2. Finalize your launch elements.
    By the time you are ready to go to launch you should have all your press and analyst materials, existing customer communication, internal communication, product content (videos, product overviews/guides, white papers, customer testimonials), website content adjustments, etc. ready. These are not things you want to be working on a day or two before the launch.
Learn more about successfully launching your new product. There are few opportunities for do overs with product launches.  So it’s a worthwhile investment to bring in expertise.  We’d welcome being a part of your launch team.

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