A soft launch means you did not thoroughly conduct market research, you are not sure you totally understand the problem you are solving and your solution may not completely solve the need. When someone says soft launch I hear them saying this product is an incremental improvement to a current solutions and is not a breakthrough product. I also hear them saying we will throw this product over the wall, into our market and see if it sticks.Team members describe a soft launch as if it were some safe and effective way to launch new products.
In my last post I shared how to determine if your sales team is following an out dated sales process. If your team is experiencing declining sales, lower profit per sale, losing orders you should have won and a decline in your sales close % you have a out dated sales process. If your sales team can’t seem to open new markets or sell new products you have an outdated sales process. In this post I share how you can stop being a prisoner to an out dated sales process and break free of poor sales results.
The first step in solving any problem is clearly defining the issues and impacts or as I like to say: “ throwing the skunk on the table”.
Sales is a changing process in today’s markets and we must constantly be sensing those changes and adjusting to them.
Some sales problems sales teams are experiencing today include:
- Buyers going dark, you thought you had good sales meetings and now no feedback
- Longer sales process from first meeting to close
- More influencers involved in purchase decisions
- Gross margin per sale declining
- More competitors
- Strong price pressure
- Buyers commoditizing products and services
- Up to 70% of buying journey is over before buyers speak with a salesperson
- Buyers choosing to do nothing
- Buyers choosing to solve their needs internally
- Difficulty in having discussions with buyers
- Faster service requirements
- Buyers wanting JIT and not large stocking orders
- Buyers needing 100% on time delivery
- Higher quality expectation
- Real time conversations – wanting answers now when they have them, immediate response
The above are some challenges sales teams are facing with buyers today and there are many more.
When sales, marketing, customer service, Hr and operations align sales teams break free of the above sales problems and win more business.
The trouble is sales and marketing are often not working strategically together and this leaves them both in a prison of their own making.
Are you familiar with what is referred to as : The Prisoner’s Dilemma ?
I found the below explanation on Wikipedia in case this is new to you.
The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely “rational” individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it, “prisoner’s dilemma”
Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent.
The offer is:
- If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison
- If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)
- If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)
It is implied that the prisoners will have no opportunity to reward or punish their partner other than the prison sentences they get, and that their decision will not affect their reputation in the future. Because betraying a partner offers a greater reward than cooperating with them, all purely rational self-interested prisoners would betray the other, and so the only possible outcome for two purely rational prisoners is for them to betray each other. The interesting part of this result is that pursuing individual reward logically leads both of the prisoners to betray, when they would get a better reward if they both kept silent. In reality, humans display a systemic bias towards cooperative behavior in this and similar games, much more so than predicted by simple models of “rational” self-interested action. A model based on a different kind of rationality, where people forecast how the game would be played if they formed coalitions and then maximized their forecasts, has been shown to make better predictions of the rate of cooperation in this and similar games, given only the payoffs of the game.
So what does the “prisoners dilemma” have to do with fixing the above sales problems teams are facing today?
A great deal!
When I helped sales and marketing teams in the past, I always heard the same things…
Marketing would share…
- Sales is a bunch of “prima donna’s” and they want everything served to them spoon fed on a silver platter
- Sales has no appreciation for marketing
- We spend so much time and money creating sales tools and we latter find no one is using them
- I can’t produce great content if I don’t know what’s going on in the market and sales will not take me on calls
- We give sales leads and they can’t close them
- We are crushing our leads generated goals but sales can’t seem to close them
- Why can’t sales sell new products?
- Why can’t sales sell more of what we have?
- Why can’t sales win new business in new markets we identified?
Sales would also say….
- Marketing has no idea what its really like out here..Selling today
- Marketing spends all this time and money on new brochures and new sell sheets but they are all ”company speak” I can’t use them.
- Marketing feels so distant from what is really going on out here today its like they think our customers are like they were 10 years ago
- Marketing gives me “lists” not “leads” ( there’s a big difference) to chase and they are worthless. It takes time to follow up on each and none of them are actually leads.
- My buyers say they can’t find what they need on our web site
- I can’t find the sales tools I need quickly in our system
- We have the worst web site in our industry
- I spend more time building sales tool than selling anymore
- if our product had just one more feature I could sell it
- Marketing launches this new product, or asks us to open new markets but we don’t have the tools to do so
The Prisoners Dilemma…instead of working together many teams choose to stay in a poor performance prison for years to come.They betray each other and in the process lengthens their time in poor results prison.
What if Marketing and Sales would stop complaining about each other and defending their silos and work together? If they did they can both break free from the prison of poor performance metrics and in about 8-12 months be free to be the market leaders they were meant to be.
How do sales and marketing teams break free?
Since I have shared close to 20 articles on the voice of the customer and shared the financial the impact this work has on sales and bottom line, in this post I will discuss the power of sales enablement.
What is Sales Enablement?
Lets quickly review 5 definitions…
A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.
Sales enablement is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity..
“Aligning marketing processes and goals, and then arming sales with tools to improve sales execution and drive revenue.”
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.
“Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips sales teams to have consistently effective engagements with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey.” – Highspot
From my experience, Sales Enablement is about intimately knowing how your buyers buy today and what they need to buy today. Secondly it’s about having the right content at the right time in the buying journey, in the right format that helps your buyers buy. Sales enablement is about teaching your salespeople a sales process that mirrors how buyers are buying. It is about serving your customers .It is about training and coaching salespeople on what you have, where they can find it and when they should use it.
How about your sales and marketing teams?
Are your teams hitting “their goals” but your overall company is losing?
Do you have a sales enablement? How is it working?
Is there any reason why sales enablement would not work in your sales and marketing efforts’?
When sales and marketing teams start working together strategically with voice of the customer and sales enablement, sales and profits increase, new products achieve ROI targets and customer satisfaction scores climb. Sales becomes less of an art and more of a science.
In future posts we will unpack sales enablement and how you can use sales enablement to break free from a prison of outdated sales processes and grow sales profitably.