How many different ways have you tried to bridge the chasm between sales and marketing? Maybe you haven’t even tried at all, feeling hopeless in the face of departments with different functions and different outlooks. After all, we’ve all heard a sales rep complaining that the product or marketing materials are bad, and we’ve listened to the retort from marketing that the products sell themselves.
For a new product to be successfully launched, we must bridge the divide and unite what we’ve often thought of as opposing forces. Here are the key areas in which they must work together.
The most common product-launch error can be found in coming up with a solution looking for a problem. This problem can be directly and effectively addressed by improving sales-marketing coordination. When it comes to customer insight and understanding customer problems, your sales force can help. Their customer-facing roles give them greater insight, as a rule, into the target audience’s problems and the solutions that might help. By partnering marketing and sales in leveraging customer insight, they can make one plus one add up to more than two.
Once an effective solution to a customer problem has been developed, the team can then collaborate on a good positioning statement that will drive marketing materials. Following these rules will lead to effective messaging:
- Focus on the customer.
- Clearly express the problem.
- Explain how the solution fixes the problem.
- Show how this solution beats the competition.
The positioning statement should not consist of a sales pitch. Instead, it’s all about customer, problem, and solution. Done correctly, these messages will lead the customer to the product without ever making an overt product pitch.
The vital issue of pricing has to be addressed throughout the product-launch process. Early on, marketing and sales should confer to decide whether, for instance, to offer a high-priced, high-quality product, or a lower-priced product that will appeal to less-demanding customers. During the product-management and -introduction phases, new information may require pricing adjustment. Feedback from sales is essential to help marketing fine-tune pricing.
While these guidelines should help in creating synergy between departments, there is no one-size-fits-all bridge for the sales and marketing gap. Each product launch plan has to be assessed individually. Every marketing message is different, and so is every campaign. Sales and marketing will never be the same — or have the same outlook — and they shouldn’t. But they can and should work together to make a successful product launch.
How to Slay Your Number in 2016
Are you going to make your number in 2016?
If you are not sure but would really like to know, turn to page 46 and read our feature titled “How to Make Your Number in 2016.” Here, we summarize the primary findings from SBI’s ninth-annual research project, which captures what the best of the best are doing to exceed their revenue targets.