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.
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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.