Product Launch 30 Day Plan – Week 3

Assemble the Product Launch Cross-Functional Team (CFT)

In Week 3 of the Product Launch 30 Day Plan you have enough information to assemble the team to finish the launch planning process. A launch team needs a broad perspective of your organization and of the market. For that reason you need a cross functional team (CFT).

Follow the links to Week 1 and Week 2 before continuing with Week 3.

Organize the Launch CFT

The purpose of a Cross-Functional Team is to provide the insight and expertise of many people. Insight and expertise that makes launch planning more thorough.

CFTs should have the smallest number of people needed to address the launch readiness gaps identified in Week 2 of the Product Launch 30 Day Plan. These are experts in their area of responsibility.  They are capable of representing their functional area. They can make decisions and can offer recommendations based on how things work in their departments. The minimal group is the inner circle of the Launch CFT.

Use an outer circle of advisors to provide extra insight.  They ensure small details outside the larger readiness gaps are not missed or forgotten.

The Launch CFT needs a leader. This leader drives the completion of the Launch Plan and the achievement of the Launch Goals.

Assign Readiness Plan Owners

The first order of business of the Launch CFT is to assign the work of creating readiness plans. There should be one readiness plan for each readiness gap identified in Week 2 of the Product Launch 30 Day Plan.

Each Launch CFT member has ownership of one or more readiness plans. They are the designated experts in their area of responsibility. They develop the plans to close the readiness gaps and put them into action.

Map the Buying Journey

Week 3 is a good time to document the Buying Process, the way buyers in market segments make a buying decision. For products with buying history, there is a body of knowledge to draw from. For new products,  make assumptions about the buying process and adjust with market experience.

There are two important reasons to know the Buying Process.

First, it helps the Marcom team focus their efforts on the best return. They understand which buyers get involved in the Buying Process. They know when buyers get involved. And they know what buyers need to make a buying decision.

Second, it helps with Sales Channel Enablement. Knowledge of the buying dynamics helps the channel so they don’t have to thrash around in the market. It optimizes the channel’s efforts to close business rather than trial and error.

Identify Marketing Assets Gaps

It’s time to identify missing Marketing Assets after the Buying Process is known. A Marketing Asset is anything that helps a buyer make a buying decision. ‘Anything’ could mean content, video, reference, review, expertise, domain knowledge, reputation, demo, and presentation (not an exhaustive list).

Your goal is to identify what Marketing Assets are incomplete and what Marketing Assets are  missing. Filling the Marketing Asset gaps ensures the shortest path to a buying decision. Incorporate your findings into your Readiness Gap planning process.

Reassess Product Launch Goals

Based on what you learn in Week 3 of the Product Launch 30 Day Plan, is it necessary to adjust your launch goals? Are they too aggressive? Are they too passive?

What are your product launch planning challenges? Let me know in the comments section below.

Related Links

Week 1 – Product Launch 30 Day Plan

Week 2 – Product Launch 30 Day Plan

Update: Added related links and read more link

Update: Photo credit – Aaron Burden – instagram.com/aaronburden/

Using Win/Loss to help sales succeed.

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A continual challenge for marketers – how do we make deals go faster as marketers? The initial concept which jumps to mind is automation, but marketing automation is a tool that requires context. Many marketers are finding while have technology improves visibility, it may not be changing overall results.

Results requires understanding not just the goals of business, but the goals of the buyer.   This requires empathy and context.  To get context around the buying journey, interviews and specifically Win/Loss help provide the roadmap. Win/loss provides insights into the buyers, process and criteria used to make a decision. As such, it can often improve velocity by allowing you to better support the buying process through the following:

Creating A Baseline

Gain your under standing of the buying process and participants through Win/Loss.  During your discovering of how the decisions are made and who participates you make find you need to build more stuff – collateral, tools and content in general. While you may have some of the items, you will find there are gaps in materials needed to nurture  leads and bring buyers along on their journey.

Where gaps in tools and content exist, it often introduces delays in follow up. Custom tools must be created. Even if the team isn’t creating one-off pieces, the reactive nature slows the process down. Win/loss helps you identify and prioritize sales tools so you can proactively arm your customers and salespeople.

Find the Friction

Win/loss identifies points in the buying process where internal processes and sales steps are inconsistent with buyer expectations. For example, perhaps the conflict is seen as arduous or the time to receive a quote seems too long. Some of these items may not be the domain of marketing, but having market knowledge empowers other teams to prioritize initiatives that can improve sales timelines.

Optimizing The Funnel

Win/loss not only helps move deals faster, it also provides guidance on when a deal may not be the right one. Knowing early whether to run from a bad deal increases channel productivity, because it allows individual reps to stay focused on deals they can win.

Lead scoring is a collaborative, iterative sales exercise that identifies the actions taken by individual evaluators and defines a score or value for each action completed. Once evaluators reach a certain score, they are classified as a qualified lead, meaning they have the correct characteristics for sales engagement.

Win/loss calls are invaluable for defining the steps evaluators take and the value of each. Plus, once a lead scoring program is deployed and a baseline established, additional win/loss efforts can help fine-tune the definition of “qualified,” making it increasingly accurate.

Using win/loss to better understand the buying process, identify gaps and focus your salespeople can improve speed to close, another reason it is one of the most powerful tools for any marketing department.

A version of this article appeared @ http://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/ask-the-experts-can-winloss-speed-up-the-sales-cycle

Read about the Power and Beauty of Design in the new Pragmatic Marketer

Chances are you’ve downloaded an updated user interface for your phone or bought a super-cool piece of software that promises amazing functionality. There’s just one problem: The interface isn’t intuitive and you can’t figure out how to use it. Adding to your frustration level: You can’t find any directions. And if there are any, they read like a soulless robot wrote them. Lackluster user experiences (UX) like these illustrate why a product’s UX can be a key differentiator in winning the hearts and minds of customers.

Design matters. It involves much more than a product’s look and feel. It encompasses the power of the user experience, the beauty of solving problems for customers in ways they never dreamed possible. And it influences your opinion about a product and the likelihood that you will become a repeat customer.

The summer issue of Pragmatic Marketer delves into the power and beauty of UX design. Our articles explore everything from how UX integrates with the rest of the product team, to how usability tests can reduce your risk of product failure and how in-app guides can improve your product’s UX. There’s also a case study about how UX transformed a financial company’s core product. You’ll find plenty of actionable tips and best practices you can implement immediately to win the hearts and minds of your customers. Read it now!

Pricing in Channels – Channel Partners Are Customers Too

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The August box of the month for Pragmatic Marketing is Channel (training and support).  Pricing through a channel is critical to the success of your product and your company.

There are many types of channels, but for simplicity in this blog, let’s say a channel partner buys your product at a wholesale price and resells it at a retail price.  Of course there can be multiple channel partners.  For example sometimes distributors sell to resellers.  What we will talk about today applies to every channel partner.

As we set our prices, the first price that matters is what to charge the end user.  This end user price must be based on what they are willing to pay.   Manufacturers often don’t get to dictate the end user price, but there are many techniques to influence it and in the end you need to predict what that price will be.  This is not your list price but rather what is often referred to as street price.  The price buyers typically pay.

Once you know your street price, next you have to decide the price to your channel partner.  Sometimes you actually set a price, but most of the time you set a margin for what you expect your reseller to make.  In the end it’s the same thing.

Here’s the important point.  Your resellers get to decide whether to sell your products or your competitors products.  They make that decision based on how easy the products are to sell and how much money they will make.  In other words, you can often influence resellers to sell your products over your competitors by giving them a bigger margin.  Think of your resellers as customers.  They get to decide which to sell just like your customers decide which to buy.  If both aren’t happy, you don’t make the sale.

A seemingly common attitude of executives at manufacturing companies is they think their resellers are making too much money.  I’ve worked with many manufacturing companies whose executives want to squeeze the margin from their resellers.  They forget that resellers have choices.  Some big choices, like whether or not to carry your products, and little choices, like which product to push when a buyer is looking for a solution.

As a general rule, when you give more margin than a competitor to a reseller, that reseller will push your products more and vice versa.  In fact, if you think of your retailer as a customer, each decision they make they are trading off their benefits vs. their costs, just like your end users.

Put yourself in the shoes of your channel partners and see what choice they would make.  They may take less margin if your product has a great brand reputation and is easier to sell.  It may require more margin if you’re trying to break into a market and want your resellers to actively push your products.

Suddenly an old adage comes to mind … You get what you pay for.  If you don’t pay your channel partners well, they won’t work for you.

A Reader Question – Pricing for Altruism vs. Profit.

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An email from a reader:
Hi Mark!
Challenger Health (info@challengerhealth.com) is a very early stage, non-medicinal consumer healthcare products startup; our core customers are physicians (Orthopaedic primarily) and physical therapy professionals. The most effective pricing model is something we have discussed at length, more specifically, if it makes sense strategically to price our products differently depending on whether the customer (doctor, in most cases) intends to resell to his/her patients or provide the products at no cost, wherein the former is charged more than the latter.
Thanks for your time Mark,
Patrick Grams
Thank you for the question Patrick.  Although it’s hard for me to give you a definitive answer, I’m leaning heavily toward YES! you should charge different prices based on how the doctors will use your product.
The most important rule for setting prices is charge what your customers are willing to pay.  It seems very likely to me that those who are making profit are willing to pay more than those who are giving it away.  Doctors who give it away are absorbing the cost themselves.  Those who are reselling it are passing those costs, plus a profit, on to their customers.
As to how to do this, consider setting your list prices at the highest price, the price you will sell to a doctor who is using this to make money.  Then, you can put together “Good Samaritan” pricing levels, for anyone willing to offer your product for free to their clients.  (Feel free to choose a better name.)  That establishes the value at the higher price and justifies the lower price.  Never lead with Good Samaritan pricing though.
You will then need to monitor your customers buying at Good Samaritan prices for compliance.  Hopefully there is a way.  One method might be to monitor the number of units they use per period.  It is likely that people giving it away go through many more than those selling it.
All that under consideration, it seems unlikely that Good Samaritans will buy your product and give it away unless you can demonstrate how it helps them make or save money.  Call me cynical, but people do things when it helps themselves.  If you can’t clearly articulate how this helps the Good Samaritans, you can’t charge much or you won’t sell much to this segment.
Hope that helps.  Feel free to post further clarification or questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Good luck