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Aligning Sales Training for a Better Product Launch

Friday, September 28, 2018
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Launching a new product is a tremendous opportunity to boost revenue and expand to new markets. But most companies miss out on this golden opportunity. The best sales trainings take advantage of new product launches to improve your reps’ alignment with your marketing and product teams.

Here are five steps you can take to improve cross-functional collaboration while optimizing your next product launch.

1. Start With Your Buyers in Mind

About two months before product launch, meet with your marketing and product teams. Before you create any type of training course for your reps, you need a clear understanding of the new product and how it will benefit your buyers. Get specific:

  • Why do your prospects need this new product?
  • Which of their problems does it solve?
  • What products are they using now, and why would they make a switch?

Get a sense of the big picture by interviewing current customers as well as prospects. This is the essence of collaboration: If sales, marketing, and product stay siloed, your product launch is doomed. If you want a successful product launch, your sales training needs to embrace your buyer’s perspective.
Once you answer questions like these with buyer-centric benefits, create a sales training outline with the right enablement assets and micro-training courses for your reps.

2. Develop Supporting Enablement Assets

If you want your reps to be experts on the new product from the moment it goes live, you’ll need to prepare three to four solid enablement assets to support the launch. Remember that these assets are distinct from micro-training and other coaching modules (see below). The most common enablement assets include:

  • sales playbook
  • competitive landscape or battle cards
  • sample talk tracks that address primary benefits
  • new product walkthroughs.

Although these assets are not always thought of as training aids, they’ll actually be some of your most effective tools. Good enablement assets extend beyond features and benefits to provide guidance throughout every stage of the sales cycle. Use these assets to share best practices in the following areas:

  • positioning
  • qualifying
  • asking problem questions
  • articulating the new product’s value proposition
  • buyer family and buyer personas
  • product differentiation.

This is just a start. The important thing to keep in mind is that your reps will return to these assets again and again throughout the sales cycle. Every asset you create is an opportunity to showcase great selling behavior, broken up by industry, sales stage, and buyer persona.

As you design these assets, apply the tenets of instructional design and micro-training. Where possible, break down text-heavy content into bite-size segments. Use bullet points, add video and audio clips, and incorporate engaging examples. Make this information easy to reference on demand, when and where reps need it.

3. Use Different Types of Training to Build Rep Confidence and Mastery

If you want your new product launch to be successful, you need to adopt a buyer-centric mindset and develop the right enablement assets for your team. But that’s not enough. Even if you work hand-in-hand with product marketing and sales, your new product launch will fail if your reps don’t have the confidence to back up their skills. Fortunately, you have plenty of ways to upskill your team and give them the resources they need. Consider these training methods in concert with micro-training to streamline your new product launch:

Assign Modules for Self-Study
On-site coaching can be effective in limited cases, but for most teams the expense alone makes this impractical. Ongoing reinforcement through self-study can have a far greater impact on learning outcomes. Sales enablement platforms like Veelo allow you to assign sales training courses and track proficiency with just a few clicks. Include quizzes and knowledge checks to make sure reps know what they need to sell your new product with a buyer-centric perspective.

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Live or Recorded Webinars
If you want to launch a new product, dense binders of text won’t do your reps any favors. Instead, incorporate video webinars into your training to keep reps engaged. Invite members of your marketing and product teams to share their perspective on the new product. You might even want to create video case studies of your current clients, so your reps can deliver instant “social proof” when they connect with prospects.

Video Coaching
One of the best ways to shore up your reps’ confidence is with video coaching. Just the simple act of asking reps to “say it out loud” can boost learning speed up to 15 percent. The more they practice selling the new product before launch, the more prepared they’ll be once it goes live.

For example, ask your sellers to record themselves positioning the value, and differentiating and covering new product’s benefits. Show them a video of what “good” looks like, and then ask them to record their own version. Again, it’s important to keep the principles of adult learning theory and brain science in mind. Vary the type of training content throughout each module and engage reps with interactive exercises.

Finally, make sure to connect these microlearning modules with your sales playbook. Sellers need an easy way to find what they need for any buyer persona and sales stage. With the help of your product and marketing teams, you can build a dynamic playbook that gives reps the tools for success.

4. Bring It All Together

Now you’ve got the ingredients for a successful product launch:

  • Foster a buyer-centric focus among all your team members and a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Develop enablement assets that can guide your reps from lead conversion to closed/won.
  • Apply micro-training and the principles of learning science to boost memory retention.

But how do you ensure you get the best return from your efforts and that sales teams continue to benefit from the investment with every engagement? Sales enablement platforms like Veelo let you centralize all your assets and micro-training courses for a single source of truth:

  • Predictively deliver micro-training and coaching plays to your reps directly within the CRM.
  • Link playbook modules and sales collateral to specific sales stages and buyer personas.
  • Give sellers a live dashboard so they can track content engagement from their prospects.
  • Unlock detailed analytics for marketers, so they can determine which content wins deals.

Before, during, and after your new product launch, you can use sales enablement tools like Veelo to refine your sales enablement strategy. Cross-functional collaboration and a buyer-centric mindset are the foundations to a successful product launch, but sales enablement software like Veelo can turn your plans into reality.

5. Build Excitement With Internal Communication

Most of the time, sellers learn about the details of a new product by email . . . right before the product launch. One single email is supposed to excite, educate, and encourage everyone all at once.

But by this point you know that’s not enough.

The best companies communicate with their teams months before launch. This is the only way to build excitement and prepare everyone for what comes next.

  • Invite your marketing team to tell the story of the new product. Include the origin of the product/enhancement and the problem it's solving. What’s the emotional draw that connects individuals across all your teams? Your reps need to know why this product matters to customers on an emotional level. They need to understand why your customers are the real heroes of this story.
  • Tell a story with your data. Share how big the opportunity is, what it means for customers, and what it means for your own organization.
  • Capture reactions and testimonials from your test market and/or beta customers. Get creative with the message and use video, simulation, and gamification to share. Repurpose the recordings in your customer success stories, training, and sales enablement material.
  • At each step in your preparations, celebrate your successes! Highlight team members who’ve contributed along the way.

The five steps outlined in this blog post will help you boost team collaboration and engagement. In turn, this will lead to better sales readiness and greater market share for your company.

About the Author

 

Chanin Ballance is CEO of Veelo, an award winning sales effectiveness platform. Chanin is a frequent speaker on the topics of learning and retention, brain science, mobile engagement, and sales enablement solutions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

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