Your strategic plan identified the market need. You committed the R&D budget and brought the new product to market. The product launch is in full swing and intuition is telling you that all is well.
What information will you need to ensure the launch is progressing? How do you know the market is responding to the new product? Who is responsible for ensuring that research and development investment was well spent? Are sales proving out that good investment?
As CEO, you need regular metrics-driven updates from three teams: Products, Sales and Marketing, to stay on top of a product launch.
Let’s look at what information is needed to understand the status of a new product launch.
Product Team Focuses on Delivery.
In the development cycle of a new product, hand off to launch isn’t the end of the Product Team involvement. The Product Team makes determinations and reports on the following:
- Is the product continuing to pass all of the QA processes?
- Is the product representative of our brand?
- Does the product meet the strategic goals and market gap it intended to?
- Who are the buyers and are they represented by buyer personas?
- What is the product’s story? What are the key messages in bringing it to market?
- What is the market price?
The Product Team is responsible for reporting on the assumptions used during product development. This includes everything from evaluating market need to developing buyer personas.
Marketing Warms the Funnel.
Marketing develops tangible sales tools and collateral. In addition Marketing determines product positioning and begins to warm up potential leads. By the time the product launches, there is already market awareness. Marketing reports in these key areas:
- How is the product positioned in the market? Is this product displacing a competitor’s product? Is the product addressing a new market need? Are we replacing an old product with this new one?
- How is the sales collateral working — everything from info cards to complete sales packages? What press releases and media placements were completed? How were they received?
- Has Marketing warmed up the market so that leads are not ice cold? What are the lead sources and how many are in the pipeline?
Sales Readies for Launch.
The Sales Team readies staff with the tools needed to present the new product. This includes getting accustomed to presenting new messaging. It also includes ample time for rehearsing the pitch along with overcoming objections. The Sales Team addresses:
- Is Sales using new messaging?
- Has the training material been developed and has it been effective?
- Have sales teams been trained and, if necessary, certified on the product use? How many have been trained? Who has yet to be trained?
- Did the sales teams practice the new pitch? What is the progress? Who is doing the training and how are those roles being backfilled?
- Were product objections and responses prepared? How are they working? What types of close percentages are we seeing?
Building Best Practices – Before and After Launch.
In a well functioning organization, it is clear who owns the project tracking. That responsibility usually falls to an individual on the Product Team, but not necessarily. More importantly, a single person in Products, Marketing or Sales owns project tracking and reporting.
Solid project management skills — status reporting, adjusting to problems early, and providing risk mitigation — will identify problems early. A simple weekly report, such as a stop light report, will keep the CEO on top of the product launch. If several products are launching at the same time, consolidated and accurate reporting by a single individual is critical.
The CEO needs reporting before the launch, beginning with identifying the strategic market need. Best practice calls for product launch reporting to be considered at investment stage. Add product launch and reporting to the business case. Plan the timeline, identify the individual responsible, and get the reporting on everyone’s radar.
Follow launch best practices using this one idea: It’s never too early to plan CEO status reporting on a new product launch.