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
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.*
Penta is a principal of Midior, a management consulting firm based
in Cambridge, MA. She can be reached at email@example.com.