After all the market assessments, business plans, alpha tests and beta tests, at least half of all new products still fail to achieve commercial success. Why do so many new products fail?
Sometimes the product design was fundamentally flawed. In others, the product concept was backed by poor market research. At times flaws in the product itself leads to failure. And in still others, it was just the timing was off. Yet, even when all these problems are addressed, and increasingly they are, failure remains the final result. One reason for the lack of success of new products is the failure to get the sales team to buy into the new product and teach them how to sell it.
Let’s explore the tale behind that story.
Sales people who have multiple products “in their bag” often tend to focus on some of products over others. There are many good reasons why this happens. Some products truly are a competitive advantage based on functionality, quality, customer support, or even price. As a result, sales people have a built in competitive advantage and success breeds success.
But listen to sales reps and you’ll hear some other reasons which begin to why some sales people shy away from selling new products: “I’m not going to be the first one to sell that new product. I don’t want to tarnish my relationships with customers. Let someone else be the guinea pig.” or “I know they say we should talk about the new software solution launching next month to seed it, but I’m afraid it’s just ‘vaporware’ and I’ll get burned.” or “ The new Model 40 is not only new, it’s different, I’m not sure how to sell it.”
Given the two extremes, where you know how to sell Product X and have had success and the “great” new Product Y for which you have no track record, what do you think sales people tend to do? And, if they haven’t been taught how to sell it, can you blame them? Can the sales compensation plan “encourage” sales people to sell more of the new product – maybe? But there’s one strong, underlying factor that “encourages” a sales person to sell a new product – they have had the training to help learn how to do it.
To learn to sell a new product most effectively it is better to use a learn than launch versus a launch than learn model.
Second, learning to sell a new product is a process not an event. A key part of that process is the early capture and analysis of what is working, and what isn’t. In some launches initial wins are achieved, but long-term revenue targets are never reached because of a false sense of success from the early wins. In these cases, the difficulty of moving beyond the early adopter is underestimated. In other cases, early successes never develop, a cloud of despair sets in, and the sales force goes back to selling what they are good at.
Given the number of new products most companies will introduce in the next five years, this is code worth cracking.
For more than 30 years Janet Spirer has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Janet has learned that today’s great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Janet is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers and the Sales Training Connection.
[Recorded Sept 26] Traditional Voice of Customer surveys have a blind spot to real-time feedback on social media and call center interactions. Learn how progressive companies are mining Big Data to improve the customer experience, reduce churn and even boost agent selling.