Vol. 46, No. 6
The Sweet Sell Success
According to Robert Gavin Cooper, an author and marketing professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, there are five stages to launching a new product, and sales should be involved in every one of themnot relegated to its traditional Stage Five role, where it receives a package tossed over the wall and is told to run with it.
Ideally, the five stages are cross-functional, says Cooper; there is no "R&D" or "sales" stage. Different departments work together in each stage under a project team leader.
Stage One: Scoping (a quick investigation and sculpting of the project). Sales role: Actively participate in brainstorming sessions with customers for idea generation.
Stage Two: Building the business case (defining and justifying the product, forming an action plan for the next stages). Sales role: Help flesh out and validate the concept before technical staff spends money developing it. (Market research also can do this, but sales will do it less expensively.)
Stage Three: Development (design and development of the new product; refinement of plans for the next stages). Sales role: Take early prototypes out to the customer for feedback.
Stage Four: Testing and validation (verification and validation of the proposed new product, its marketing and production plan). Sales role: Help select field trial sites and help run the field trials.
Stage Five: Launch (full production, launch and selling). Sales role: Its traditional responsibilitiesconducted with greater enthusiasm and success due to earlier involvement, sharper training and a big-picture view of the launch process.