Getting Sales
New Product

 Taxes, and Change

Force Buy-in on

by Randy Prince       

    WITH THE ARROGANCE THAT GOES ALONG WITH IGNORANCE, many companies seem to expect the market to respond them vs. them responding to the market. With the realization that comes when change is necessary, we know that our environment's response will be predictable, i.e. negative reaction and conflict are usually associated with change. However, the good news is that whatever is predictable is manageable.
    Therefore, the greatest challenge is not integrating a new product into the process, but rather integrating a new product into acceptance. So, to ensure that the sales force and the product mix well, the sales force must be brought to see this change is a positive one with a certain benefit for the customer. Yet certain issues must be addressed:

    The key is the approach to new product training, and it is here that a company will have the most control from the outset. Keeping in mind that training is a top down process, the elements involved are: the message, the strategy and the audience. In this case, the message is the new product, its abilities and its benefits. The strategy consists of how and through what means the message will be delivered. And finally, the audience is your core sales force who must first be sold themselves before they can effectively spread the word to the marketplace.
    Positioning of the message is paramount. What are the reasons for the product's inclusion into the product line? Will it become the dominant offering or will it be added as an additional value for consideration? The former is the greater source of fear of instability among the troops, in this case, the benefits will have to be outlined in a forum of great celebration. If the latter is the case, demonstrations of established tools and verbiage, items already familiar to the sales force, should be implemented.
    Strategy will focus on who and how the message is related. The training team will bear the lion's share of responsibility in introducing change. They will be entrusted to communicate the "Big Picture" to a possibly resistant audience, so their mission is threefold: to articulate, demonstrate and placate. It is for this reason that they must be onboard from the earliest stages to ensure a unified campaign and guarantee the message arrives as a single strong voice and not the hollow rote from "Corporate".
    To make certain that the impact of the message does not wane after its introduction, reinforcement of the message then becomes the assignment of the field management. It is here that the message will demand support and clarification through additional training exercises and drills to further entrench the value of the new product into the daily routine.
    The structure of a company cannot be adversely influenced when a new product is inserted into its product mix. Instead the new product must be integrated by a well-designed system. Relying on standard procedures and practices maintains a level of momentum needed to successfully launch a new product.

Randy Prince is VP of Training and Business Development for ECP Commerce.
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