Product managers are passionate people. They are passionate about the products they create and the problems they solve for their customers. Product managers spend thousands of hours researching, testing and developing their products before it’s time to commercialize. But then it’s time for the hand-off. The success (or failure) of the new product is in the hands of the sales reps, not the people who so carefully and thoughtfully created it.
Unfortunately, there’s often a disconnect between the business unit who created a product and the salesforce who sells it. The product managers developed the product and have specific goals they want to hit, in collaboration with the C-suite. The sales team has goals of its own, and they may not always align. Many sales forces have their own agendas, especially in global organizations.
If you are a product manager yourself, you know what I am talking about. This disconnect is frustrating! The three questions below are critical to bridging the gap. Answering them sets your new product up for success. Avoiding them leads to stress and sleepless nights.
1. How do I make my product stand out to sales reps?
Sales reps are already selling products they’re really familiar with and comfortable with. When a new product is launched, it can be difficult to get them to prioritize the training and put in the time to learn about the new product. To help sales reps feel invested in the products they sell, the launch, communication and training that surrounds a new product must be carefully planned.
2. How do I make sure sales reps deliver the right message?
Product managers partner with marketing to come up with the “bullet points” that explain why a new product is good, the features it offers, and the attached value statements. But when sales rep go to sell it, will they say and do the right thing? Without proper training and coaching, reps are prone to misrepresent the product or explain it differently than the product manager had envisioned.
3. How can I help sales reps understand the true value of the product?
When left to their own devices, sales reps will build their understanding of what a new product is and what it does by comparing it to the other products they sell. But if they are left to figure these things out on their own, they may not fully understand what makes the new product unique and valuable to customers. As a result, sales reps may get stuck on price instead of showing the product’s true value. Up-front investment in a thorough product launch training curriculum can actually result in savings down the line if it helps sales reps sell to value and avoid discounting.
For their new products to be successful, product managers are faced with a variety of challenges they cannot fully control. This is why a well-thought out product launch training curriculum is critical. The best product launch training takes a blended approach and introduces features, benefits and value statements before the launch meeting. This allows the launch meeting to include more in-depth, hands-on training sessions (not just hype and excitement, though that is necessary as well!). And while your sales force must take ownership for training and education after the launch, savvy product managers provide easy-to-use training reinforcement tools to their sales counterparts so that reps can commit key value statements to memory.