Speed-to-customer for new B2B product announcements or new capabilities for existing products is a thorny problem in the best of times. In a world transformed, where working from home is the new norm and virtual selling is the standard, it is exacerbated.
The goal with any new product launch is new revenue, new customers, improved profitability, and increased market-share.
New products must launch quickly to capture category-creation opportunities along with profitability and market share.
Product marketing is a key stakeholder along with sales enablement and product management in helping companies go-to-customers with new products, enhancements or competitive insight.
How do you build a process once a high-value new product opportunity or capability is identified, overcome “why-change” inertia and other field enablement challenges, and drive new revenue in a few-months vs a few-years, or in the best case, a few-quarters?
When New Products Fail to Lift-off
A former client of mine had a frustrating experience with a new product launch.
The product “Acme B2B Dingdong” was a winner on paper, a natural extension to the existing product line and something destined to generate a windfall from sales into existing customers, attract new name customers and create incremental revenue for years to come. $Millions in product license revenue was forecast in the first year.
The product team put together a solid MVP and a demo video and handed-off to product marketing. Product marketing created sales collateral in the form of a product presentation and a PDF with FAQ’s and brief competitive positioning document.
Marketing scheduled a “lunch and learn” and the product marketing team gave the product overview presentation, the product management team answered questions and then ran a demo which was recorded. Product marketing followed up with an email to “all-sales” with the link to the deck and the demo and both assets were posted in the sales portal.
What happened then? – crickets.
The Impact of Failure to Lift-off Quickly
- Missed expectations - revenue expectations, category creation profitability and market-share.
- Embarrassment for everyone including marketing leaders, sales leaders through the COO, CFO, CEO, and the board.
- Frustration, discouragement and lack of trust from salespeople.
The story is not over. One quarter later, after only one new sale to an existing customer and no sales to new customers, the product marketing team scheduled another lunch and learn, where the first session was repeated.
What happened then? - crickets.
Six-months after launch, the company has two customers for the new product. The analyst briefing was a bust. While they loved the demo, they killed you on ability to execute.
Then came the layoff. The Dingdong product marketing team became product martyrs and were fired along with the engineers and the product was scrapped.
What Product Marketers Need to Know
Product marketing has traditionally created feature-function-benefit type messaging around the product as sales content. This is what salespeople are supposed to use to “sell” the product.
This places the burden on the salesperson and the customer to translate those features and benefits into value in the buyer's context. Most salespeople struggle with this... It's known as "productitis". This is why sales ramp-times are 9-12 months or more in many B2B technology companies.
In our case study, the sales team cannot be blamed for the failure of the product. The underlying causes that contributed to this failure were:
- Ineffective information, content and formats that are all about the product
- Deployed the wrong way – traditional “lunch and learn (one-off training event),” vs. performance supported, continually enhanced and updated based on feedback and collaborative learning
- Delivered as documents or web pages in (many) repositories, or website / portals, emails
- Marketers should review and uplevel playbook frameworks and content – conduct objective quality reviews (Are they all about the product, or do they deliver insight and support conversations about the buyer and their goals and their challenges?)
- Deploy situationally relevant knowledge, conversation support, and situation-specific information (content in appropriate formats), for each key engagement point. (Why meet, Why change, Why change now, Why not in-house, Why me, Who have you helped, How do we implement?)
- The most important conversation that nobody thinks about, that is paramount and that is likely hurting you the most today, is the conversation your champion is having internally when you are not there. Your champion needs situationally relevant knowledge, conversation support, and situation-specific information to have those conversations.
- Delivered as micro-content with links to supporting assets and performance support, embedded in sales workflows and systems.
A Solution Approach for Product Marketers
The problem area we are addressing in this article, which is largely unsolved, is that of conversational support and situational fluency for direct and channel salespeople. Conversational support does not mean shipping PowerPoint decks or .PDF’s or Word docs that are “kitchen-sink” dumps of everything a salesperson needs to know.
Conversational support is primarily a content problem that can only be solved with a “micro-content” approach because salespeople need in-the-moment support with just the right bite-size consumable content (not .pdf’s or presentations) at their point-of-use.
As we have seen in our case-study, sales conversations are too important to be left up to individual salespeople to invent for themselves.
Sales conversation have to be designed, tested, and validated, then gamified to drive adoption and then sellers should be certified as competent in delivering them. Product marketing is a key content creation stakeholder in this model as is sales enablement in field enablement and certification.
How Enableocity helps Create Speed to Customer and Revenue Acceleration.
Enableocity helps create speed in go-to-customer, quality in conversational support and scale in delivering situation-specific knowledge and conversation support embedded in sales workflow when and where it’s needed.
- SPEED in go-to-market is created through collapsing the time to create and deliver sales-ready conversational messaging in digital-sales-playbooks from months into weeks. This is achieved through populating pre-built playbook frameworks with content using an asynchronous capture, editorial and publication process that taps SME’s, product specialists, SE’s and the tribal knowledge of top sellers.
Speed is created by gamifying the introduction and reinforcement of new content into the workflow as well as relevant in-the moment performance support and knowledge. The combined impact of rapidly developing quality playbook content and gamifying and monitoring adoption can accelerate revenue from new products from years or quarters into months.
- SCALE means an ability to deliver just the right conversational content and performance support to everyone (including channel sellers) who needs it via federated point-of-use content access in whatever device or application they are using to engage buyers. Most salespeople are in learning overwhelm, so that knowledge and learning must be available where they are, in-the-moment.
This means relevant microcontent access based in the CRM opportunity fields vs. a salesperson having to go to a portal of a document to hunt and peck for it.
- QUALITY means capturing conversational content in sales playbooks that include tribal, industry and product knowledge and customer stories at a micro-content level, that is centralized, curated, tagged, peer-rated, tracked, always fresh, and attributable. Content and individual usage must be instrumented so that enablement and marketing can promote what content is working, drive adoption and gamify new high-value content and govern and manage the content lifecycle.
Daniel Burrus was prescient in his vision for digital content that finds you when you need it in the Communication Age. Twenty-seven years later that vision has been realized.
Click the link to find out more about how Enableocity is helping companies to accelerate go-to-market with digital playbooks that use pre-built frameworks and a collaborative knowledge capture and publishing model.