You’ve probably heard the expression, “it takes a village.” Much like raising a child, your product launch will also take a village—you need collective buy-in and participation from your entire organization to nail it. In this lesson, we’ll break down how to arm each organizational team with the tools they’ll need to make your product launch a success.
Before we do, a tip. Just as you’re focusing on the benefits of your new product in customer and prospect communications, you want to focus on the benefits of your enablement when communicating cross-functionally. Check out this recommended framing (by function) from the Product Marketing Alliance:
Taking this approach will go a long way in keeping your internal teams engaged and bought in. With that, let’s dive in.
By this point, your sales team should be eager to get their hands on the product (cool new thing to sell!). Before that happens, be sure they understand the positioning (including the target audience) and can clearly articulate its value.
Your sellers also need to understand the pricing and packaging: is it a new subscription? An upgrade to an existing product? Are there multiple plan tiers? If it’s complicated, consider building them a handy calculator using Google Sheets or the like. The easier you make the sales teams’ lives, the more success they’ll have selling your new product.
Hot tip: Rolling out your new product's pricing and packaging to the sales team will be a whole lot smoother if you solicit their input before you finalize pricing. Do it! 😅
Of course, they’ll also need a product demo and sales collateral. Think one-pagers (aka sell sheets, one sheets), a new slide or two in the sales deck, and ideally, at least one case study from those users who got early access during beta testing. You want sales to be prepped and ready to sell, sell sell!
Customer success and support teams are on the front line when it comes to customer interactions. They not only need to be prepared to field questions and provide support for your product, they also need to know where to direct unexpected questions and feedback.
Hot tip: Your customer success and support teams will hear plenty of feedback—positive and negative—about your new product. Be sure to set up an easy workflow for capturing that feedback. Consider setting up a dedicated Slack channel and/or a unique support ticket tag in your help desk software.
Like their customer-facing peers in sales, they’ll need to understand the positioning and how to articulate the value of your new product. Your customer success and support teams will play an active role in driving product adoption, so it’s especially important that they feel prepared to “sell” the value to existing customers. Think of the up-sell and cross-sell opportunity! 🤯
When it comes to support, work with the team to polish self-service documentation and FAQs. Consider whether or not your new product warrants individual customer training sessions, on-demand video overviews, or scheduled webinars. You know best. Actually, at this point, your launch plan knows best. Refer to it and make the call!
Creating a product that solves a problem is the first step—now you’ve got to get the word out. The good news is that by this point you’ve already defined your target audience and refined product messaging, both of which are critical as your marketing team plans its launch campaigns.
With those inputs in hand, your marketing team can take the next step of determining the most effective strategies and channels to reach your audience. For example, the audience for your new product may congregate in a few niche, digital communities and/or frequently consume content from a couple of industry-leading publications. Perhaps they’re very active on LinkedIn but not on Facebook.
If you’re a product marketer, you may have already documented this info. If you did, you deserve a raise! Tell your boss we sent you!
Your marketing team can now start thinking about email campaigns, social media, ads, and other ways to create buzz, prioritizing the channels and tactics most likely to reach the target audience.
Hot tip: Get the marketing team involved when you're drafting the first version of your plan. Ask for their feedback and input. Launch day campaigns—and the steps required to properly execute them—should be baked into your product launch plan as early as possible!
If your business is like most, your executive team—or at least your CEO—sets the vision and strategic direction. If this launch is significant enough (think tier 1), they’re probably well-aware of the new product and its imminent launch. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep them informed. Actually, quite the opposite.
While executives should already understand what problem you’re solving and probably even how you’re solving it. They likely don’t know how you’re planning to market and sell it. Keep them in the loop throughout the planning process. Don’t necessarily ask for feedback (they’re busy and you got this), but do let them know you’re all ears if they have any.
Above all, your executive team wants to feel confident; that you’re in control, and that this big investment will pay off for the business. Beyond just sharing launch details, show them that you’re organized (eg. launch calendar), communicative (eg. weekly cross-functional meetings), thorough (eg. positioning statement), and—sure to be their favorite—results-oriented (OKRs!).
Hot tip: Executives 💜 results. Share your launch OKRs with them to build confidence in your plan. Go a step further and tell them how you'll report on results in the first days, weeks, and months post-launch.
Ok, let’s wrap things up. Hopefully it’s obvious by now just how important cross-functional communication and collaboration are leading up to a successful product launch. As the launch leader, it’s your responsibility to make it happen. If you do, launch day will be a whole lot more fun than it is stressful!
Speaking of launch day… lesson 6 is when the rubber meets the road.