Especially with new product launches, but anytime there are more than a few people involved, communications and motivations can be difficult to align. For instance, if you look at an industry like manufacturing, their R&D and marketing teams couldn’t be further apart in their styles of communication, and often their measure of success is a department goal versus a corporate one. I once lead a marketing team for a worldwide manufacturer and just trying to get feedback from R&D was difficult. They had so many high level executives to report to, they certainly didn’t want pressure from marketing for a product launch! Of course if you remove all emotion from it, there would be no use releasing a new product if there were no sales collateral or market awareness that it existed. So, there in lies the problem, and it is a team effort to design the solution. I have reviewed many product development flowcharts, and as you’re probably aware, they basically define a flow that goes in this general order:
- Idea – product team
- Market Analysis – R&D
- Product Development – R&D
- Production – Manufacturing
- Marketing & Launch – Marketing & Sales
- Aftermarket Service – Service
Oh sure, we always say we’ll get more organized next time, but there rarely seems to be a significant product that gets launched the same way twice, right? That’s because budget, testing, software development, etc. rarely happens in a steady stream as planned. So, here is another One, Two, Three from me to suggest an efficient communication process from idea to service when launching a product of any kind.
- Establish a new product development team. This would include a group of people from each department including R&D, Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Supply Chain Management and any team who will be impacted by the product. This team is NOT comprised of management – we all recognize management has enough meetings! This is a group who should be made to feel privileged that they are in-the-know about the latest and greatest things the company is working toward. They are merely to report back to their managers and groups with progress and questions as needed.
- Merge marketing. Though it can be common for marketing teams to be responsible for the layout of technical documents including specs, etc of a new product, often the promotions team isn’t aware of what drawings or animations may be available. Also, there may be a brand team who has a budget for offline that doesn’t coordinate with promotion online, who may not even coordinate with the web development team who is responsible for updating the website and creating a URL for the product to begin with. A clear workflow should be established within marketing that is largely motivated around the KPI’s for the performance of the product. Namely, yes, sales! Marketing should be accountable to bottom line sales. This will often set the tone for the team to be proactive in having the collateral ready.
- Training. Of course there should be time set for the sales team to be trained on a product launch. But, be sure that early in the process, training includes the marketing messaging, marketing distribution (i.e. magazine, websites, etc), and any brochure collateral that is created. The sales team is your feet on the street. Make sure they’re repeating the message that so much time and money was spent to create. A uniform voice to the customer is the powerful one!
Happy product launching! Remember that Leopard Digital’s Sales Mobile App can help sales teams retrieve information faster than ever before. Ask Us How.
Thank you for your time,