What sales teams can tell marketers about product launches | DMA

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What sales teams can tell marketers about product launches

It’s the biggest argument that you will hear in the bar after every conference or product launch. The sales team will be puffing up their chests and showing their tail feathers like peacocks. The marketers will be coughing “bullsh*t” under their breath. The marketers firmly believe that they’re the reason for the success of any product in the market. They base this for good reason on some very solid foundations. Most marketing professionals will have a degree from university to give them the first killer blow to the sales team who generally have never had anything more than a college education. Then they have all the research and BIG data that allows them to work out all the parameters surrounding the products, who it will please, what the target market will like about it, why there is a gap in the market and 1001 other reasons that this fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product will be the next mahoosive since round wheels or the steam engine.

When products fail
So, with all this effort and sound foundations it’s utterly inconceivable that any product to come out of a marketing meeting could ever fail, but they do and they do on an alarmingly regular basis. If rockets blew up with the regularity that marketing gets it wrong we would never have made it beyond the earth’s atmosphere let alone make it to the moon.

Sitting within the audience at the product launch the sales team will be taking in every detail about the new product. Why? Because this is what will likely be what makes or breaks their target for the next two sales cycles. So, we have a massive hotel, a full auditorium, the marketing team, the management team, the national and key accounts as well as every member of the sales team and we are all for a dinner and staying over for the launch of this fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product.

I digress.

We are paying attention, we are buying it, it sounds great, it has bells, it has whistles and oh my god it costs WHAT?! The sales team now know that they aren’t making target for the next 16 weeks, that all the customers who buy into what they tell them will not be doing that again for quite some time when all the fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product is in dump bins with 60% off the usual price just to get it out the door and recoup the return on investment. What always confuses me is how can so many people with so much information manage to get it so wrong, and how can so many people with so little information get it so right so quickly?

That opens up a whole new set of questions, but ultimately marketing should be involved with sales and realise that you can never plan and fight a war from within an office and base it all on statistics and research. The most important part of the sales and marketing funnel actually has to be the sale and not the marketing or the funnel. Without any sales every business is dead; it’s the sales that bring the revenue that enables the wheels and cogs of the business to turn. Yes, your sales team are dead in the water also if they don’t get a steady supply of new products, offers and services that can be turned into revenue streams.

Where does the blame sit?
I have, over the years, been astounded about how the blame for failure lands at the sales teams door, why because it couldn’t possibly be the marketing’s fault as they had done all the research and everyone had agreed that it a fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product, market forces such as consumers didn’t actually need it, wouldn’t actually pay the exorbitant price or didn’t need it in 25-litre size when 2.5 would have done.

Unless you set up your team like a proper army fighting a war, it’s more than likely that you will fail. You need research and development, you need reconnaissance and you need to deploy your products against your competitors. For every action there is a reaction, so when making up your marketing plan also try to factor in what the competition will do to react to your offering. Make sure that you are in tune with your consumers and your customers. You need to make sure that you understand what direction the market is heading, why they are heading in that direction and what you can offer that will meet the requirements of the market. Marketers all talk about the five P’s, when really what we need is three of the five Ps: we need the right products, at the right price, presented in the right way. If you can make these three things come together then it is highly unlikely that you will fail, and to know if your new fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product meets all those requirements, I suggest to all marketers that they spend some time out with the sales team to find out just how your customers and consumers would react to the next fantastically brilliantly unbelievable product. I also suggest that more sales directors, business development managers and anyone who thinks that they know what’s going on from behind a desk should spend one day a month talking to both their clients and their potential clients face to face to find out what is really happening.

So, who came first the marketer or the salesman?

For best results a good supply of both and mix with care!

By DMA guest blogger Craig Dougan, Consultant and Direct Sales Agent

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