How to Mitigate Uncertainty When Launching Products

Nicolas Caron

Published : 24 January 2018
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How to Mitigate Uncertainty When Launching Products

As the year begins, chances are great that you already have in mind the flagship products that you are going to launch or relaunch by calling upon your sales force, partners, distributors or resellers.

  • With your marketing division, you have sifted through the offers of the competition and you have identified precisely both the strengths in your offer that need to be emphasized and its few weaknesses that must be downplayed.
  •  You have passed information on to your sales force through various means including the relevant documentation, handovers to first-line managers, product training and your speech at the latest convention.
  •  You have drawn up your budget and fine-tuned your high and low estimates on your favourite tables.
  •  You have notified your own hierarchy regarding targets.

Everything is ready!

Now all you can hope is for facts to quickly come and corroborate your projections. Which you are not 100% sure about…

Mitigating incertitude

Oscar Wilde used to say, “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.  Simply replace “romance” with “selling” in order to carry this aphorism over to the business field. Yet, part of the charm of being in love is but a source of anxiety for the sales manager who prays daily for the God of forecasts to prove him right.

Along more rational lines, what more could you do to increase your chances of really implementing your plans according to schedule?

No doubt a great many things. But in order to put you on the right track I am simply going to ask you the few questions I regularly submit to the distributors I meet.

  • What portion of your sales force (both yours and your partners’) know the details of your new offer inside out?
  •  How do you know that?
  •  How can you be certain that they will have enough self-confidence to pitch it systematically?
  •  What percentage will be able to handle the expected objections?
  •  What percentage will know how to spotlight the key benefits that make you stand out?

Let me stop right here!

I can never seem to get to the end of this list of questions for the answers are seldom satisfying.

I had informal lunches during the holiday season with a dozen of CEOs at the head of distribution networks and took the opportunity to verify all this one last time before publishing the article. I can tell you that their first reaction is often that of disillusioned shrugs and nervous laughter expressing fatalism in the face of this challenge.

 

Sales skills management can also benefit from the Data Revolution!

We hear about the Data Revolution every day.

Type this term on Google and you will find many articles dealing with this new marketing Eldorado. Big Data is ubiquitous… Well almost, that is.

Admittedly, if one field seems to have been left unexplored, it is that of skill management. Using the data revolution to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your commercial teams is a formidable opportunity to quickly ramp up the sales effectiveness of your network.

That’s right, providing answers to the above questions is quite easy to do nowadays.

Of course, at least two conditions must be met:

First, these questions must be deemed really essential. As long as you remain unconvinced that the success of your commercial launches largely depends on your teams’ capacity to back up these questions, you may as well drop the subject and carry on as before. (Which is regrettable for stats tell us that you should lose no time making the switch)

Second, you must have at your disposal quick and easy solutions to implement. These solutions are not as widespread as you think. Everyone knows how to make a quiz. But producing data really worth exploiting for a precise monitoring of the sales force is less common.

Be careful, you might develop a taste for it!

In closing, I will give you three examples of the solutions I am alluding to having been successfully implemented.

No name dropping, just the stats !

  • Company seeking to increase its number of account units in life insurance assets.
    • Early September note: 50% annual goals achieved.
    • Late December note: 100% annual goals achieved
  • Pharmaceutical company launching a new product. Uses our solution in Holland, doesn’t in Germany.
    • Holland: market share at month m = 10.2%; market share; at m+18 = 33%
    • Germany: market share at month m = 10%; market share; at m+18 = 24%
  • Tech company
    • The CEO of this Swedish company himself declared that implementing this solution has enabled his sales force (made up of 300 people) to improve the command of their pitch by 23% and double their number of second appointments.

Of course, for more information and to mitigate the incertitude looming over you, follow my eyes and contact us!

Have a good sales day!

Nicolas Caron.

© Halifax Consulting

 

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