The Product Marketing to Sales Hand-Off

hand-off
The media sector has been caught up in a cycle of introducing numerous products each year or into each sales cycle to either give sales something new to bring to customers or to take advantage of an opportunity within their market area. A 2003 UCLA study reveals that “25% of a corporation’s revenues come from products introduced in the last three years.” In order to support revenue growth or offset declines in other product areas, introducing new products have been viewed as a core business growth initiative.

Sales Momentum recently published a stat that says $15 million was spent on marketing new products which does not factor in the product vetting process, integration into back office systems, IT support, sales training costs and lost opportunity of poorly executed launch plans which could push that figure north of $25 million. This investment figure was balanced by a recent UCLA study which indicates more than 50% of new products fail.

While many factors contribute to the success or failure of new products such as competitive differentiation, ease of sale, and fulfillment support, one key area BIA/Kelsey has been investigating is the hand off between product marketing and sales. While there is often heavy investment in time and resources discovering, vetting, negotiating and integrating new products within a media company, often there are miscues in translating the product and marketing message into a coherent sales plan and approach. Some of the key areas fumbled include:

• Fully researching and defining the specific target audiences. Many product marketing plans focus on number of products sold by rep by market taken from their business plan revenue models. Once the product development phase is complete, marketing and sales need to work together to develop proper target audience identification, determine how or if the revenue goals can be supported by these audiences, then develop audience specific messages.

• Clearly identifying how the new product fits within existing product portfolios or advertiser bundles. New products are frequently introduced in a vacuum without enough thought on how they will be sold alongside other products, particularly when it comes to introducing digital products alongside traditional media products. Advertisers are confused about the volume of marketing products available, so local media companies have to work to make it obvious as to why the product is being added and the value it brings to their current marketing initiatives.

• Demonstrate how the new product enhances current marketing initiatives or enables the advertiser to reach more prospects. Advertiser budgets only go so far, showing them how a new product increases the effectiveness of the other marketing products they have purchased helps to streamline the sales process, increasing success.

• Focusing too much on features and benefits rather than on customer-focused needs. Products are a series of solutions to support advertiser business needs. The roll out of any product has to keep the needs of advertisers in mind so that solution sets can be recommended to solve their key business growth needs. Sales people often get overwhelmed by the number of media products in their portfolio, moving to viewing products as a portfolio of solutions helps sales people clearly see which products make sense and which products to keep in the sales bag.

BIA/Kelsey’s goal is to dig in and identify the best approaches to a smooth product marketing to sales handoff, as well as how we can help sales teams better strategize on developing sales messaging, strategies to maximize the ROI associated with new product launches to better maximize each product opportunity. We’re interested in talking with companies who are taking innovative approaches to product launches and sales teams who are figuring out how to integrate digital and traditional media products successfully. If your company feels they have something interesting to share, contact me to feature your best practices on our blog.

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