We all know that to win deals Sales must be able to explain to customers why they will benefit more from your solution or product than any other. Therefore, if you want to build strong sales momentum for a new solution, your sales tools must capture the customer knowledge that resides in the accumulated experience of your Sales and Marketing organizations.

Unfortunately, launch teams often focus their tools and training on communicating product knowledge and features, rather than communicating a solution's strategic value to your customer. These narrowly designed launch materials may prepare you sales team for calls on a technical buyer, but they fail to equip them for campaigns across an enterprise. Your launch loses impact.

Maximize the impact of your sales launch

You'll get maximum launch impact when you provide your sales channels the right information at the right time. The challenge is providing solution-focused tools and training in sales language; otherwise, they'll waste time translating product information into selling messages (sometimes the right ones, sometimes not).

Will your launch plan meet the challenge, and pass the “impact” test? Use the following launch effectiveness checklist to measure your success in arming your sales organization for a quick ramp time:

  • Your sales tools and solution training are customer oriented and produce sales teams that know how to sell your product to all stakeholders—not only the technical buyer.

  • Top-tier sales players (Reps and SEs) have contributed to your launch training. Their customer knowledge and sales strategies have been documented and communicated.

  • Direct sales teams and partners can locate and access critical information whether they are on the road, in their home office or at a customer site.

  • Sales teams are armed with sales tools for every stage of your sales process: identifying suspects, qualifying prospects, generating interest and acceptance, creating proposals and closing deals.

  • Every customer-facing organization is prepared to introduce your solution. Customer service, professional services, accounts receivable and other administrative staff can articulate your product's value.

Make sure Sales is armed and ready

To reduce non-selling time and increase the quality of their customer interaction, arm your sales channels for the entire sales process—start to finish. This launch checklist is a good starting point, but engage your sales team to create yours:

  • Sales reps know how to find and gain entry into target accounts. They have tested scripts and/or content for email campaigns.

  • Discovery questions are provided to uncover customer problems and identify opportunities. Sales channels understand the opportunity those problems present.

  • Sales channels can describe the solution you provide and the product features that provide that solution. Your demos support your claims and illustrate solutions to your customers' problems.

  • Sales tools bolster your sales efforts: for example, customer references and case studies, sales presentations with scripts, proactive proposal and RFP response content and an ROI analysis.

  • Your sales team can explain the strategy of your pricing model and the uniqueness of your solution versus the competition's.

Everyone can sell

Not everyone has would succeed as a sales rep, but everyone with customer interaction strengthens your sales efforts. Recruit influential members of customer-facing organizations to contribute their own creative ideas. Here are a few creative ideas for widening your sales reach:

  • Post banners, posters, table art and brochures throughout your company—especially in the lobby—to raise company awareness of your product's introduction and positioning.

  • Use your phone system to advertise to customer waiting for support or telesales (carefully avoid becoming intrusive or repetitive).

  • Provide a clever email salutation that includes your product's tag line and Web site link. Request all employees use it.

  • Educate your accounts receivable and other administration staff on your product's value and target customer. You never know when they will uncover an opportunity.

  • Customer support or technical support personnel can be your best, and most subtle, sales organization. Make sure they feel comfortable articulating the value and functionality of new solutions.

Maximize the impact of your launch by preparing your sales team for a complex sale—to quickly gain credibility and to anticipate customers' needs. Unlock the customer knowledge that exists in the minds of a few, critical people and provide it to the sales team in direct, customer-oriented sales “language.”

The result is sales effectiveness—the combination of product knowledge and customer-business acumen.

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Alison Chandless runs KickStart Alliance. For more information, visit www.KickStartAll.com.