Executing Product Launches by Partnering with Product Marketing
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Witnessing an idea develop over time from an initial concept to a fully-fledged product launch is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding aspects of being a product marketer. However, this transition rarely occurs without some sorts of challenges that need to be resolved.
Sales enablement can play a fundamental role in helping product marketing teams overcome potential barriers and successfully release new products into the market. By leveraging enablement strategies, product marketing can help maximize the opportunities that product launches present.
Here are some key steps that enablement and marketing teams can take to forge an effective partnership and ultimately achieve successful product launches.
Set Clear Goals and Reinforce Expectations
Before a product is launched, enablement and product marketing teams need to ensure that their shared goals are clearly defined as it relates to the desired outcomes, and that they have ways to track them using specified metrics.
As part of this, reps need to thoroughly understand these goals in order to understand how to best position the product with buyers. For example, the goal of the launch could be to build brand awareness, fulfill specific customer requests, or something in between. Having this knowledge allows them to communicate with buyers in ways that are engaging and interactive to meet goals.
However, it isn’t just enough to set goals and share them with reps — they need to be consistently reinforced through repetition. One way to do this is by starting with a large all-hands announcement, and then proceeding to individual team meetings to discuss more “drill-down” approaches. For example, when approaching a sales development team, practitioners can specifically discuss ways to communicate with prospects at the top of the selling funnel, while a drill-down with account executives may focus on how to overcome objections to specific new features.
“Even with very different topics and areas that we’re covering, there is still a drill-down based on roles,” said Lauren Barraco, vice president of marketing at Inscribe. “It’s repetitive, they’re hearing it in multiple places, and they’re training in different ways. This helps it really stick.”
Encourage Alignment Among Teams
If silos are created in incentivizing and setting goals between product marketing and enablement, then teams will take different paths to pursue results. This means that transparent communication and clear alignment between enablement, product marketing, and other go-to-market leaders is key to driving a sense of inclusion.
“Every portion of the organization that’s focused on go-to-market has to be thinking in the same terms and aware of all of the implications in that go-to-market structure,” said Tieg Herman, director of sales enablement at Deluxe Corporation.
Establishing collaboration check-ins can promote alignment, forcing exposure among all teams and giving a platform for regular communication if an adjustment is necessary. To keep teams on the same page, these check-ins should be structured and consistent. For example, consider conducting them at a regular cadence, and keep all meeting notes or action item checklists in a centralized location so that team members can refer back to them as needed in between check-ins.
Additionally, it’s important to ensure that all teams are thinking about the entire revenue motion in addition to the sales motion to execute successful product launches. No one team can determine the success of a product launch alone. In fact, all teams across the revenue engine have responsibilities to land the product with prospects, buyers, and customers. Therefore, it’s important to set clear expectations for all teams about how they contribute to the success to create a unified mindset.
“If you focus solely on the sales motion, you may sign the clichéd $1 million deal that ultimately results in $100,000 of revenue,” said Herman.
Create Multiple Channels of Customer Awareness
Different customers digest information differently, making a multi-track approach to get information out to prospects and customers essential in an inclusive product launch. Rather than strictly settling on a classic email approach, leveraging other tools such as virtual applications, interactive webinars or events, or social media can serve broader audiences who are looking to be engaged with in ways that resonate with them most.
“When reaching a new customer, let us not recoil, but rather open up and think of new strategies and ways of approaching it,” said Myisha Procter, director of sales enablement at Custom Ink.
Additionally, focusing on the customer world as much as possible helps to equip reps with scenarios that they will actually face when they interact with customers. It can be easy to fall into the common trap of thinking that reps have to understand every aspect of a particular product. Instead, it’s important to focus on preparing them for the conversations they are going to have. For example, rather than knowing how to regurgitate a call script, reps need to know how to think about and set up an initial conversation, which in turn causes prospects to want to dive deeper.
“I think of it as a few fundamental skills that everyone should have, such as how to have consultative conversations,” said Peter Armaly, senior director of customer success enablement at Oracle. “It’s the ability to be comfortable talking about products, and to be able to have a conversation with customers and know enough to really nail the value proposition and what business goals could be achieved using the product.”
Through this, reps are able to share clear and compelling stories with customers as they build trust and transparency that can guide them to a sale.
Implement Effective Training
Although well-intentioned, product training around launches can sometimes emphasize product features, but lack guidance and structure on how reps can leverage those assets. This leaves reps with great content and exceptional campaigns that are unable to be used to full functionality.
Enablement teams need to therefore collaborate with product marketing to strategically provide salespeople with guides on what to say, how to say it, and when to say it, all while keeping it as simple as possible. This can be done through various training tools that allow reps to access learning on-demand when they need it, as reps are now less reliant on live sessions in the age of virtual selling.
Training tools themselves need to integrate content that is accessible to all reps, and that emphasizes learning paths that train reps across revenue teams. Beyond just focusing on the features and benefits of the individual product, reps need to be fully informed regarding the use cases that the product is meant for.
“Rather than creating some big program or none at all, decide to deliver information as a series of small compatible modules,” said Renée Osgood, head of customer success enablement Ceros. “Not only would it be more easily consumed, but it would also appeal to different learning styles and then provide different pathways to get that information after the fact.”
Presenting this information through a variety of content formats, such as presentations, case studies, white papers, and business cases, can help engage reps with digestible material.
Integrate Sales Leadership
Managing change and ensuring smooth transitions becomes easier when sales managers are integrated early in the process. Since they are the first-line in enforcing key behaviors among their teams, their incorporation helps to drive action among reps.
More specifically, alignment across sales enablement, product marketing, and sales leadership helps to create an anchoring rhythm for sellers. An anchoring rhythm can consist of regular product launch play meetings, where enablement and product marketing gather with sales managers to discuss growth initiatives across go-to-market teams and then effectively cascade that information down to sellers. This helps sales reps learn and develop their skills, ultimately ensuring that effective conversations are continuously enabled.
Not only does this facilitate the learning process for reps, but it also provides them with a support system to succeed. Having guidance integrated into their selling journey allows them to focus more intently on the learning aspect of it, gaining skills, techniques, and experiences that ultimately facilitate the launch of a new product.
Product launches are integral in growth strategies as a means to bridge gaps in the marketplace, adjust to competitive pressures, and engage with innovation. To facilitate these endeavors, enablement and product marketing teams need to combine their expertise to implement the best practices that are aimed at facilitating collective goals. Doing so ultimately curates a selling environment that supports the release of new products, shedding light on them in the market and reinforcing customer support and satisfaction.