Organizations are excited to launch a new product. The launch is a result of the hard work of many and the potential for success feels limitless. Disappointment is also felt by many if the product launches slower than anticipated. The finger-pointing may start and it’s not long before everyone looks at where the rubber meets the road: the sales force.
Source: rawpixel.com @ pexels.com
Assuming all things check out across Product and Marketing, it is fair to scrutinize the sales force. However, when you do, consider if your challenges are a matter of will or skill.
A will problem shows in an inability to attract seller attention – i.e. soft pipeline or stale opportunities. The premise is that sellers feel that selling the new product isn’t an opportunity as much as an opportunity cost to selling the legacy products. A remedy for a will problem is compensation. When examining the opportunity cost conundrum, consider these factors:
- Rate of Pay – does the seller get the same rate of pay for all products? A premium rate may be needed to attract the seller to the new product.
- Size of Deal – what is the anticipated deal size for the new product compared to the historical average deal size (across other products)? If your sellers typically sell $1M deals, a $100k new product deal feels less like an opportunity and more like a $900k opportunity cost.
- Length of Opportunity – this time metric is a proxy for level of effort. Like Size of Deal, this is a comparative metric between the new product and historical averages. People do not want to work harder for the same level of pay.
- Perceived Success Rate – if sellers don’t see an opportunity, they will focus their energy on where they perceive more success.
A skill problem signifies that the sellers are missing something. Skill problems reveal themselves in both a lack of seller attention (i.e. soft or stagnating pipeline) and an inability to close deals (i.e. low win-rate). Sales enablement is the remedy for skill problems. If seller skill is your challenge, consider the following solutions:
- Launch a product awareness campaign to help sellers understand and effectively communicate the value proposition.
- Audit sales collateral to ensure that your sellers have the proper tools to become new product savvy, target the right opportunities and improve execution.
- Leverage differentiated content to appeal to the various learning styles across your organization.
- Ensure your sales managers are involved. They can highlight the new product launch in their team meetings and reinforce the launch in their one-on-ones.
A slow product launch is frustrating and causes friction across your Go-to-Market stakeholders. To avoid this friction and improve sales results, tune into both the sellers’ will and skill to sell the new product.
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.