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Sponsored Supplement: Putting the Smarts in Displays
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Electronics Group Distribution Supplement

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Accelerate time-to-revenue


In the electronics business, product life cycles are incredibly short--often shorter than a product's development cycle. So, when a new product is launched, it's critical that you make every day a revenue-producing day. Unfortunately many companies botch this effort--they're still following the conventional, linear process of launching a product, selling it, figuring out how customers are using it and revising it to match those requirements. This process just takes too long.

To get products right the first time, efforts must be coordinated and synchronized with many groups.

So, why is success so difficult to achieve? First, few companies have a structured process in place to measure the success of new product launches. Second, electronics vendors often treat "marketing" as an event that occurs once development is completed, and sales as an event that occurs after marketing has been applied.

The key to delivering successful products is to design for sellability so that your sales cycle is as short and efficient as possible. Then you must surmount common sales barriers and create a process to evaluate product success.

Defining product success

Technology companies tend to focus on timing as a key indicator of success. The common belief is that being "first to market" is the critical success factor, so companies pay a lot of attention to measuring how long it takes to develop and produce a working product. In fact, more products fail because they are too early to market, rather than too late.

A better metric is "time-to-revenue," a measure of how long it takes to develop, produce and receive money for a product.

By focusing your tactical programs to overcome the four common barriers to sales success, you can positively accelerate your "time-to-revenue." These barriers are:

Integration: Usually, new products need to be integrated with a customer's other products and systems. Your team needs to have a precise understanding of what is required to deliver the whole solution in a way that is useful to your customers.

Information: Today, information about a product may have to substitute for trying the product itself--either because the product doesn't exist (yet), or because a substantial investment of time and resources is needed to try it. Provide the best information possible to your customers and know where that information will come from.

Organization: When the sales and implementation process goes across boundaries in a customer's organization, this complicates and extends the evaluation and purchasing decision. Be prepared for this--make sure all appropriate groups at a customer site have product information as early as possible.

Behavior: Are you asking your customers to change their current way of doing business to realize the benefits of your new product? Have your marketing materials and sales approach ready to address these issues.

Since these barriers cut across organizational lines, your company will need to build teams comprised of development, marketing and sales professionals to create tactical programs to overcome the barriers. And by introducing the concept of "designing for sellability," you will accelerate the "time-to-revenue" for new products and improve the chances for product success.*

Susan Loconto Penta is a principal of Midior, a management consulting firm based in Cambridge, MA. She can be reached at slpenta@midior.com.

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