Are You Using This Simple Product Commercialization Checklist?

GeekThere’s been a lot of attention lately on innovation, agile development, NPD and product road mapping.  All are critical to developing new products but all fail dramatically in fully understanding the product commercialization process.

Miss out on successfully launching your product and not only will you miss your targets, but you’ll struggle to be credible with future product launches with your field sales team and customers.

With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive checklist to make sure you are considering the many facets of the commercialization process.                         

Market Analysis

Purpose

Why are we looking at this product / service?

What is in it for us?

What is in it for the Channel?

What is in it for the End User?

Objectives

What do we hope to do?

What is the timing to carry out the goal(s)?

Strategy

How do we envision accomplishing this objective?

What are the short and long-term strategies?

What is the timeline for each strategy?

How will the product be positioned?

Impact on other products (cannibalization)?

What plants and markets?

checklistOnGlass

Market Factors

What factors will help this product?

What factors prohibit us from meeting our goals?

What are the crucial market factors for this product?

Product

Requirements

What market research do we have to support product?

Define the channel and end-user(s) priorities

Define the market size and total opportunity for us

Feature/Benefits              

Define strengths and weaknesses of proposed product

Positioning

How will product be positioned (high/medium/low-end)?

Who are the key targets for placement?

Who are the pull through targets?

What is our pricing strategies by channel?

Packaging

What is the product called?

How will it be packaged?

Production Plan              

Clearly define production capabilities

Establish ordering procedures

Benchmarking  

Have we benchmarked other competitors in the industry?

Have we benchmarked other manufacturers outside the industry?

Measures of Success

How will we measure progress?

What will be considered a success?

Timeline

Key dates for all product elements?

Develop an implementation roll out strategy 60/90/120 day

Sales Plan                                                                                                                                           

checklistSales Forecast

What are the sales plan by Region/Nationally (in units and dollars)?

What are the seasonality/current trends?

Other Measures                 

Clear and tangible outcomes?

What is the total brand budget to support new product?

Selling Proposition

Sales                                       

What is the value proposition at each level?                       

Channel Customer                                                                                          

End User

Brand Support

Brand Plan

Define the communication plan for end-user/ customers/field sales?

Ensure product included in other programs

Social Media

Link our social media efforts

Website updates

You Tube, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, Pinterest

Literature

Define literature requirements

Develop technical facts to support new product

Samples

Produce product samples as required

Selling Tools

Determine tools required to support business proposition

Define product displays requirements

Develop plan-o-grams for retail customers

Photography

Will product availability delay photography (and literature)?

Packaging

Determine artwork

Timeline

Coordination of brand support programs

Define schedule and key dates

Field Implementation

new-bright-ideaImplementation Plan

Coordination of channel, product marketing, and brand efforts

Define processes and tools required for implementation

Determine channel programs (target accounts/promotions)

Develop time line for field sales communication

Provide advanced communication (90 days) to Sales

Training

Establish internal and external product training schedule

(Field Sales/Customer Service/Channel Customers)

Training Vehicle

Develop training modules

Scorecard

Clear Outcomes                

Follow-up review of business strategy after 90 days/6 months

Develop bail out strategy if not performing

What else would you add to this checklist?

8 Steps to Building a Customer-Focused Commercialization Strategy

8 Steps to a Commercialization StrategyBefore a commercialization plan can be developed and implemented, it must be driven by an overall commercialization strategy. By taking a strategic approach to your commercialization strategy, you will be better positioned to be successful with your new product launch.

The commercialization strategy should not contain a lot of financial detail or “how to,” but it must be consumer focused and customer centered and not technology focused. A key issue in a commercialization strategy is to set the direction to explore and understand the market. The commercialization strategy must focus on what satisfies the needs of the customer.

8 questions you need to answer in your commercialization strategy

1. What’s the Offering? (What are we trying to provide or create?)

Commercialization Strategy TipsAt a high level, clearly state what products and services are being offered to the market.

Identify what other products/services may need to be provided to be a credible supplier to the customer and the channel. Identify, at a high level the anticipated pricing strategy at the end-user level and for the expected distribution channels.

2. What is the Adjacency Assessment of the product or service? (How does the product or service align with the core business areas?)

Chris Zook in, Beyond the Core, addresses the concept of Adjacency or the relationship of an opportunity to your core business and competencies. Zook defines several things when looking at an opportunity:

1)    Core – Known business strengths and competencies

2)    Adjacency – Relationship to the Core ranked from 0 (identical to the core) to Diversification (a completely new area).

 3)    Shared Economics – There are five dimensions that when evaluated and measure the distance from the core and can be used to determine the degree of relationship to the core:

  • Customers – Are they the same as, or different from, customers currently served?
  • Competitors – Are they the same as, or different from, competitors currently encountered?
  • Cost Structure – Is the cost structure (infrastructure) the same or different?
  • Channels of distribution –Are these the same or different?
  • Singular capability/technology – If there is a singular capability (brand, asset, technology) that gives the core business its uniqueness, then is this relevant in the new opportunity?

3. Who is (are) the Targeted Customer(s)? (Who do we really think will want the product/service and Why?)

Identify who is (are) the targeted customer(s) – end-user, big box retailer, distributor, internal business unit, etc. Who are we trying to sell this product or service? Keep in mind that the targeted customer(s) may change as more marketing and Voice of the Customer data is collected.

Why is this customer believed to be the real customer? It is toward this customer that the Business Proposition will be initially oriented. It is toward this customer that the Business Plan will be structured.

4. State the “Business Proposition”

Strategy and Marketing traffic sign in the handThe business proposition describes what the product or service offers that no other product can.

It is important that the Business Proposition be benefit focused. For example, Coke quenches thirst. Coke is also a good rust remover but it will NEVER advertised as such.

The Business Proposition should take caution not to over advertise advantages – in other words, DON’T clutter the message. The more focused the message, the more likely to clearly communicate it.

Have a single Value Proposition – Keep It Simple – the KISS principle.

When developing a business proposition think of what people are buying.

Customers are not buying a product – they are buying what that product does for them. Customers don’t typically buy a product because they fall in love with the technology. Customers buy the SATISFACTION OF NEEDS. The Business Proposition MUST clearly state how that need will be satisfied.

Doug Hall, in his book, Jump Start Your Business Brain, addresses three key elements to Stating Value:

1) Overt Benefit to the Customer – What is the real benefit to be realized? Engineers love to talk specifications – “This car will go from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds.” Buyers want to feel the wind in their hair and the thrill of feeling the force of their heads being pushed against the back of the seat.

2) Dynamic Difference – What makes our product/service any different that what is now available? Unless this product is for a total new and untapped market, customers have choices.

3) Real Reason to Believe – What gives the customer confidence that we can deliver the product or service we are offering? For example, “We have had Z years of 100% customer satisfaction as measured by JD Powers.”

5. State the “VALUE CHAIN”

Sales leadership stepsThe Value Chain relates to the business processes of the company selling the product.

Questions to be answered are:

  • Who will sell the product? Whoever has sales responsibility must be aligned with the Value Proposition – they must care that the product/service really does meet the customer’s real need.
  • Where will the product be sold? This may need to be clarified in later, but initially, choose the logical area(s) that fits in with your Value Proposition.
  • How do you distribute your product? What is (are) the expected distribution channel(s)?

The Value Chain and Business Processes must be aligned as close as possible to the Value Proposition. The closer the alignment, the greater the probability of success.

6. How will the product/service be Marketed?

Brand idea chartAt a high level, what is the basic marketing approach? Consider the following:

  • Who will provide the marketing activities?
  • Who internally will oversee that the marketing activities are done correctly?
  • Identify logical points to test assumptions, validate alignment with the Value Chain and/or Business Proposition, and logical changes/adjustments to the marketing approach, the Value Chain, or the Business Proposition.
  • What is the overall Communication Strategy for getting the message out to potential customers?

7. Provide a rough-order-of-magnitude Business Plan

Given the information available, give a high-level assessment of the business potential for the three years after commercial launch. Try to be realistic, meaning not overly optimistic nor overly conservative.

Items to consider are:

  • Sales
  • Gross Margin and Gross Margin as a percent of Sales
  • Operating Income and Operating Income as a percent of Sales
  • CAPEX
  • RONA

8. Major Commercialization Risks/Issues/Obstacles/Support Requirements?

What significant commercialization items can keep this effort from being successful? What support is needed from management, gatekeepers, resource managers, etc.

Write out what the risks are and rate them High, Medium or Low. Put a few ideas down on how you can mitigate these risk.

Don’t use a Ready, Fire, Aim commercialization strategy

readyfireaimTo maximize your chances for success, you need to be thoughtful in developing the strategies behind your new products.

Innovation can happen in the commercialization of a product as easily as in the product itself.

Think about all the ways you can build upon and leverage your commercialization strategy and you might find your sales teams more engaged in the product launch, your customers understanding what’s in it for them, and ultimately your new product goals being achieved.

Good Selling!

A special thanks to Lowell Dye for his help in better understanding the product development process and in writing this post.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

How to Get Knowledge Out of Your Product Manager’s Head and Into the Hands of Sales

Product Dossiers for MarketersWished you could on-board new sales reps more easily? Ever had a green product manager who needs deep product immersion? Here’s a simple tool to help you do both.

Creating a Product Dossier brings the sales team up-to-speed on new products and programs while helping unlock what’s in the product manager’s head

Product Dossiers Sales TrainingIt’s easy to overwhelm a sales team when launching many new products and programs at a rapid pace. The same is true for a new product manager or sales rep that’s unfamiliar with your product lines.

New sales reps need knowledge to gain confidence. Unfortunately, what they are given is a sell sheet or, worse, a 150 slide PowerPoint presentation. “It’s in there,” says marketing vaguely.

Truth is the sales team – especially the new guy – has to know all the details about the product, not just some specs and fluffy words. They need the knowledge that to have confidence to present the product and, more importantly, make the sale.

A Product Dossier can help the sale team drive more sales by:

  1. Providing detailed product, pricing, channel and support information to the field in an easy-to-use format.
  2. Delivering information to the field in a shorter period of time to enable them to start selling quicker.
  3. Improving the productivity of the sales force.
  4. Delivering the business proposition by audience and answers the question “why should I buy?”

A Product Dossier gets the critical marketing insights for a product line out of the product manager’s head and into the hands of the sales team

Product Dossiers TrainingIn other words, we were asking the product management team to take the time and write down all the key details about a product line. We call this document a Product Dossier.

The Product Dossier is for internal use only and always has these key topics in the following order:

  • Product Description
  • Product Performance
  • Application
  • Features and Benefits
  • Packaging
  • Business Proposition to channel
  • Business Proposition to end user
  • Pricing
  • Order/Ship/Bill
  • Stocking Plants
  • Market Description / Market Segmentation
  • Channel Positioning
  • Objectives
  • Competition
  • Sales Tools

The Product Dossier is distributed to the field sales forces by email and should also be posted on the intranet. This tool can also easily become part of the broader set of tools that any new product commercialization process already has.

While the Product Dossier is an internal document, a Program Sell Sheet can be created from it for use by the field as a customer hand out and as a quick read cheat sheet just before a sales call.

Program Sell Sheets are based on the Product Dossier and can be used as a customer product knowledge and training tool

Marketing Communications EffectivenessProgram Sell Sheets are simply edited, formatted and printed versions of the Product Dossier and always contain the following information in the following order:

  • Product Description
  • Product Performance
  • Application
  • Features and Benefits
  • Packaging
  • Business Proposition
  • Order/Ship/Bill
  • Sales Tools

Notice all the internal details are stripped out – it is a generic sell sheet now, but with far richer content. These sell sheets can be now be used as a customer education tool. They are particularly valuable when the customer’s sales team needs product knowledge and training.

Product Dossiers don’t write themselves…they take time and effort to become valuable sales training tools

Product Dossiers KnowledgeDon’t be deceived, this process takes time. It forces the product team to make sure they have all the facts. This process requires deep immersion into the product line – which is why it’s such a great teaching tool for green product managers.

Don’t be so bold as to say you’re going to knock off 20 of these in a short period of time. Maybe you can but the best process is to start with your new products and then roll the process out to the more established product lines.

Be sure to save the finished Product Dossiers electronically. They obviously need to be updated every so often to stay relevant.

By the way, this process works for products, services and programs. The headings are broad enough that they allow you considerable flexibility.

Do you have other great ways of bringing the sales team up-to-speed? Let me know about them!

Good Selling!