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A Three-Step Product Commercialization Insurance Policy: How a GM Can Overcome the Odds

by Michael Barr  |  
July 8, 2008

Bringing a new product to market is one of the most costly and risky activities that any GM faces.

Voice-of-the-customer research and stage gate reviews have improved the odds of achieving success. But do they go far enough?

Three important tasks are frequently overlooked even though they offer the ability to identify weak links early on.

So, how can you overcome the odds? Arm your team with a three-step commercialization insurance policy designed to identify and assess risks.

1. Create a purchase process map

As soon as you have a design concept, create a purchase-process map—a powerful tool detailing every aspect of the buying process. Voice-of-the-customer research provides great insight into customers' needs but falls short. A successful launch requires more than a winning product. The purchase-process map drives the development of sales and marketing activities by defining what motivates customers to buy.

Use the purchase-process map to identify everyone involved in the sale by asking key questions: Who orders the product? Who inventories the product? Who will use the product? Who influences the decision to buy? Who controls the budget? Who will dispose of the product? Learn all the players who have the power to have an impact on your launch.

The purchase-process map is an outcome of buyer-behavior research. Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that they know the buying patterns of their customers or that similar products will be purchased by customers in the same way. To reduce risk, strategic launch decisions must be based on facts, not assumptions.

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Michael Barr is a principal at marketing consulting firm QDI Strategies, Inc. ( Contact him via

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  • by Tom Tue Jul 8, 2008 via web

    What is a "third sale?" Is this marketing jargon, or does it just mean the first commercial sale after beta?

    useful insights, BTW....

  • by Michael Barr Fri Aug 1, 2008 via web


    I mean the 3 true sale -- as you question implies in needs to be a sale that isn't to customer you know so well that they participate in the beta test.

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