4 Pitfalls to Avoid when Launching a New Product or Service
According to Clayton Christian of Harvard Business School, 80% of new product launches fail each year. There are certain things you can do to improve your odds of a positive outcome. Below are four pitfalls to avoid when introducing a new product or services to the market.
Not solving real-world problems or driving innovation
There’s nothing wrong with gathering internal feedback from your sales organization and vetting your new product ideas with an analyst community, but you mustn’t forget to do your own research. Before proceeding with the creation of your solution, you need to truly understand your customers’ current problems and validate that your solution will address them.
Sometimes you might uncover that customers aren’t aware of a known problem; therefore, your solution may be positioned as a new innovative concept to how they currently operate. Try to stay away from creating a product or service that you simply think will be of value to the marketplace without doing the proper research.
A fantastic way to gain the necessary understanding of your prospective customers, prior to solution creation, is to develop Buyer Personas and perform Needs Assessments to validate your ideation stage. These two activities will help collect insights you need to determine if you have a solution that will be in demand, and what’s required to generate interest. They’ll reveal specifically what problems it will solve, your prospects’ buying process, and more. Without this information you might be driving a product strategy from your internal point of view versus an outside-in market requirement.
Focusing on features and functionality in your communications
Your targeted buyers don’t purchase the features and functionalities of your solutions, they buy the business outcomes that they create. This is why it is so critical to start with Buyer Personas and Needs Assessments. These allow you to take the next step, creating an effective Market Requirements Document (MRD). This facilitates the alignment of your solution with your customer’s actual needs, ensures that your messaging communicates in the context of your customer’s problems, and identifies which market segments to target first.
When crafting your messaging and positioning, step back and think “Why do customers need this solution?”
If you can’t simply answer this question, you’ll most likely end up creating a value proposition focused on features, because that’s what you know best. This critical step will save you a lot of time and money when investing in efforts towards your content marketing strategy
Teaching your sales teams to speak features and functionality versus buyer need
Today’s buyers don’t want to educate sales reps about their needs and concerns. They expect them to understand buyer challenges so reps are prepared to discuss business outcomes and solutions. If you really understand your customer’s problems and develop a product or service that actually addresses them, you’ll know how to communicate with prospects in the context of solutions.
Train your sales team through use cases, how your product applies to your customer’s business, not just features and functionality. This equips them to confidently sell based on relevance with your prospect’s need.
Sales teams sell to who?….people! So why not bring all the hard work you’ve done to create Buyer Personas into your sales enablement strategy. Don’t keep those personas hidden on a hard drive or intranet site. Instead, make a “sales-ready” reference, such as a Digital Sales Playbook, for sales reps to access on a daily basis.
Sales reps will appreciate your hard work to help them understand who to sell to and why.
Launching marketing campaigns too soon
Before you rush into launching campaigns, take a step back and ask yourself these questions:
- Have you conducted primary market research to uncover your Buyer’s challenges and the business outcomes they want to achieve through your solution?
- Have you documented the needs of different buyers you’re targeting, to know how to apply your value proposition?
- Have you completed a market segmentation analysis based on your buyer’s needs assessment, to know where to focus your efforts?
- Have you trained your Sales organization on how to begin a customer conversation focused on buyer’s needs?
- What sales tools does your sales organization need to convert a lead into a buying customer?
- Does your content focus primarily on what your products are and what they do? Or does your content educate buyers on common issues they may or not be aware of….are you teaching them something new?
Why is this risky?
Launching campaigns before you’ve completed all these activities is like putting the cart before the horse. Too often, campaigns are launched without Sales being trained on how a solution addresses the customer’s needs. Sales teams that aren’t equipped with the right tools to engage a customer conversation throughout the buyer’s journey are frustrated by having to create their own content. They see what material customers are requesting and want to provide it.
Not all customers have the same need. Knowing segment or vertical requirements upfront will help you tailor your value proposition to them, and increase your customer conversion rates.
Ultimately you want to know WHY your prospective customers need you, and the only way to do this is to understand their world first. Once you feel comfortable knowing their world, the HOW of campaigns will fall into place.