Include your sales people from the beginning and achieve success with future launches.
From high expectations to painful memory
Have your company ever had a disappointing experience launching a new product and not understood what went wrong? Everyone from innovation, to purchase and management have waited for the big day when the "baby" was ready to leave the developmen dept., but what happened? Nothing! Slowly the euphoria about the new product evaporates - except among the R&D people who continue to talk about the fantastic product that never made it, and in this way ensure that the organisation will never let go of the painful memory. For sure something went wrong during the development proces. In my experience that something was that the sales professionals were never involved. Include your sales people from the beginning of the development process and achieve success with future launches.
Include the sales force
Unfortunately most companies never include their sales force when developing new products. It is rear that sales people participate in meetings about new products in the pipeline. R&D is carried away by the technical possibilities. Production is keeping an eye on capabilities and scaling, and management is focusing on budget and timeframe. No one is thinking about sales and marketing. That is fatal. Use your experienced sales professionals to prepare the launch.
Prepare the launch in due time
A product launch must be prepared far in advance, as early on in the innovation process as possible. I have throughout my professional career time and time again heard people from innovation talk about really great products that never amounted to anything. When I ask if they involved the sales department, they look at me with surprise, because according to them, sales people do not understand technical issues! This is a dangerous attitude. You can't just hand over a new product to a sales person the day before it is launched and then expect him or her to go out into the market place and get orders. It is a process that takes a lot of preparation to succeed.The process of bringing a new product to the market has to be well prepared. If not, the sales force feel uncomfortable with the product, and will not present it to the customers. A true sales professional will not face a buyer trying to sell a product, if he is not certain that his organization back home is able to deliver.
Support the credibility of your sales people
The sales representative and the buyer have a strong business relationship, developed over time and based on mutual trust. The biggest asset a sales professional has is his credibility, and a good sales person will never do anything to damage that credibility.Companies need to understand this. That is why the company must understand the importance of including sales people in the development process. The sales force must be given enough time to prepare the launch and they can often contribute positively with market feedback.
There are unfortunately still too many companies out there who don't understand why their innovations never amounted to the success that was expected. Don't be one of them but try one time to include the sales staff in the innovation process. If you do, your company will achieve much higher success rates at the next product launch.