Sales Tools and Planning Resources for Your Next Product Launch

The Brainshark team recently conducted two very successful product launches. Since the experience is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of the tools and templates that our product marketing team used to save time, stay on schedule and prepare our sales reps for success.

Product Marketing Launch Plan

This is used to make sure everyone understands the scope of the launch, their responsibilities and due dates. It’s also used in cross-functional team meetings to go over weekly status updates. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet, but you can also use Microsoft Project or other web-based solutions if you’re more comfortable with those.

Here is a sample launch plan template I’ve used in the past. As you can see, there are many elements to the product marketing launch plan. For “minor” announcements or feature launches, your team can decide which elements are less critical and eliminate those from the spreadsheet.

Whether it’s a major or minor launch, I include FAQs, demo guides and Brainshark video presentations in our plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ documents serve two main purposes. The first is to clarify key questions for internal teams and the second is to provide them with talking points for their audiences. I think of this document as a complement to the sales training that marketing provides in preparation for a launch. It’s a shortcut for sales reps and other internal audiences to quickly review as they prepare to sell to and inform their audiences.

1. Typical questions addressed in these FAQs are:

2. What are we launching?

3. Why will customers/the market care?  What’s our value proposition?

4. When are we launching?

5. What are the key features?

6. How is this priced?

7. How are we communicating this (internally, externally to customers/partners/press and analysts)?

8. What resources are available for us (brochures, videos, email templates, etc.)?

Demo Guide

Because we’re in the business software market, a key element in our sales cycle involves demoing our applications. A good demo flows smoothly, highlights benefits that are important to the audience and differentiates your solution from the competition. A bad demo will likely hit the brakes on the sales opportunity.

To ensure that all your reps present your solution in the best possible light, you can create a step-by-step demo guide together with a script to follow.  We build our guide in Word with the following column headings:

  • What you see – A screenshot of what the presenter sees at each step of the demo
  • What you do – Instructions on what options to select or what to click on
  • What you say – The script the presenter should follow
  • Why you say it – A description of the benefits, competitive positioning and differentiation included in the script at each step. This is particularly helpful to ensure that advanced presenters who may not follow the script word for word still cover key value proposition points during the demo.

Once you have a demo guide developed, it’s usually very easy to modify it to accommodate new or updated features.

Video or Brainshark Presentations

The impact and versatility of on-demand video presentations allow us to provide content for SEO, sales enablement, customer and partner training, as well as PR and social media purposes. We create a two-minute teaser presentation –  an overview highlighting the benefits of the new product or feature. Teasers are used on our website, in email campaigns and newsletters, and social media posts.

We provide more detail on the feature in video tutorials, where we “walk through” the application.  These presentations are included in the blog article posted at the time of the launch and in the press release. The tutorials are also used for internal training and are posted on the Support pages of our website.

Other Planning Resources

I’ve adapted these templates over the years, but I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve them.  Here are some of the resources I follow for new ideas:

We’d love to share your ideas on sales enablement tools and templates.  Do you have a different tried-and-true approach? Let us know in the comments below!

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