The area often critical to a business’ success is selling new products. There are reasons that new product sales are challenging for many companies. From what I’ve observed, the biggest single cause of poor results early in a product’s life can be explained in terms of Features, Advantages and Benefits.
When a product is new, how does product marketing typically communicate it to the sales force? From what I frequently see, the marketing people call the sellers together and tell them about what an exciting new product is coming. They explain all the Features and Advantages – all the “bells and whistles”. And then what do the sales people do? They become excited about the product and go out to sell it. And when they are in front of a customer, how do they behave? They communicate the product in exactly the same way it was communicated to them. Instead of asking questions to develop needs, they jump in with all the exciting Features and Advantages that the new product possesses.
Instead of showing the sellers the product and describing its Features and Advantages, we don’t even let them see what we are selling. It won’t be important. What is important is that this product is designed to solve problems for the customers who use it. We then list the problems the product solves and the needs it meets. Finally, we understand how the Insight product AND a list of questions that can help us uncover those problems.
We can create a list of questions they will ask when working with a prospect.
By launching the product in terms of the problems it solves and how to probe for them, we will shift the seller’s attention away from the product and back to the customer needs.
Instead of giving Features and Advantages when we announce the product, let’s concentrate on explaining the problems the product solves and on thinking up the questions that will uncover and develop these problems. From what I’ve seen, this speeds the growth curve of new-product sales.