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New product sales: Three steps to create a winning culture
By Arijit Banerjee
New products account for a substantial chunk (27%) of sales across industries. Selling new products requires a different mindset and approach compared to selling existing products, as salespersons often have to overcome a new set of objections and barriers. An unsupportive sales culture within the organization can be a major detractor, adding to these challenges, creating self-doubt and lowering motivation among sales people, and ultimately leading to missed targets.
Following these four steps can help create a culture that inspires shared vision, fosters collaboration and accelerates new product success for the sales organization.
1.Educate your sales team on ‘processes’ rather than ‘products’
At the time of launch of new products, organizations typically tend to provide training focused on the bells and whistles of the product, with very little time spent on educating them on the challenges customers face. Training the sales force in the following three areas can help them establish trust with the customer and demonstrate a deep understanding of their challenges.
Situation analysis - The first step is to create or identify the environment that necessitates the product in question. The situation, in turn establishes the context for the buyer. Let’s take an example of electric vehicles and see how this works across the three areas. The situation: While several countries have encouraged the phasing out of passenger vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine or traditional fossil fuels, the biggest obstacle to their adoption is extending their ability to cover long distances on one full charge of the battery.”
Understanding the impact - The second step should be a clear articulation of the cost of not taking any action in response to the ‘situation’. The impact establishes the urgency for the buyer. The impact: “Electric vehicle is the future of the transportation industry and energy density of battery will be a key differentiator for extending the range of electric vehicles”.
Coming up with the resolution - The final step is to address how the product will mitigate the key issues of the client and deliver the desired outcomes. The resolution: “Our company manufactures anode materials that are required in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries and are critical for improving energy density.”
2.Create buyer profiles that ensure precise targeting
A well-crafted buyer profile not only allows the sales leads to target their buyers more accurately, increasing the chances of a deal closure, but also helps establish a relationship with the buyer by humanizing the sales process. The result: increased share of wallet over the long run. The essential elements to consider while creating the psychological profile of the buyer are:
· What is important for the customer, how does the customer evaluate different buying options and who takes the decision?
· What behavioral indicators point to the fact that the buyer is serious about making the purchase?
· Does the prospective buyer’s organizational culture support change and learning that will result from this new product introduction?
By skillfully creating and marketing to their six buyer personas, The Lego group became the fourth largest toy manufacturer globally. Their personas ranged from consumers who were actively engaged with the brand’s products to those having no experience with the brand at all. By engaging the six groups with customized strategies, Lego was able to garner the mindshare of distinct communities, turning them into ardent advocates of the brand.
3.Reinforce salesperson's resilience and grit
Revenue Numbers are often the only assessment of a salesperson proficiency and resilience. The focus, however, needs to shift towards the process of enabling sales rather than the final numbers. It’s important to hone sales folks’ competencies by using assessments that identify gaps in sales competencies, and providing continuous training and development programs in strategic sales techniques. An in-depth understanding of the selling process, including the sales pitch, how to close a sale and after-sales service is crucial to building the confidence, resilience and grit necessary to persistently pursue targets even in the face of failure.
CA Technologies provides its sales team with a learning environment that is a prudent mix of instructor-led sessions, web-based trainings and role plays to improve sales commitment and competitiveness. Their lab environments provide unique simulations on sales situations. They have also partnered with expert sales training providers to enhance competence and confidence of their global sales team. The initiative resulted in a $42 million annualized revenue increase, directly attributable to the use of newly acquired negotiation skills and tools.
Co-creating a supportive sales culture with partners
Selling in the digital age is getting tougher with 61% of sales people considering selling today ‘harder’ or ‘much harder’ than five years ago. Building an effective sales culture from the ground up can be challenging. Partnering with reputed training institutes can ease this process by making continuous learning and development initiatives a critical component of a company’s sales culture. Such an approach results in not only creating a highly motivated and relevant sales force but also reduces the time to productivity for new joiners by bridging the gap between college education and industry requirements.
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