This blog post originally appeared on LaunchScience, a start-up focused on helping companies launch and commercialize new products.
One of the myths of product commercialization is that it only matters for the big, once-per-year, CEO-on-stage, type launches. But that’s false. If you’ve got a commercial sales and services team, they need to know about every product change, large or small. It’s the small features and bug fixes that can close deals – or lose deals – depending on how prepped the team is and how smooth the communication flows.
At my last company — an enterprise software platform that exited for 9-figures — we would win or lose deals based on in-depth reviews of our technical capabilities. We had highly-trained experts who worked with prospects and customers to make sure they could accomplish their business objectives with our tools. But even in that environment it wasn’t uncommon for problems to occur where new functionality wasn’t being presented to the customers in the proper manner.
In enterprise software small blockers can keep some sales from closing and make some customers churn. And the same thing happens in SaaS, ecommerce, and other sectors, though it may be much less obvious when sales are lost. How often does a customer leave your app or your sales pipeline dissatisfied because they weren’t aware of how they could use the product?
So here are the best practices for making sure everyone on your team has the information they need about every launch, large or small:
First, close coordination between the commercial team* and the product team. In highly productive teams we’ve interviewed, there is a regular roadmap meeting for the big stuff, and that is supplemented by a more regular session where the product board (Jira, or whatever) is reviewed for smaller items. That’s where you catch the little stuff that actually can be quite valuable.
Internal communication is the next step. This sounds simple, but can sometimes be overwhelming when a lot of stuff is being worked on. If you’re in an environment with a commercial team (e.g. sales, CRMs), then maybe you want to bundle up all the small stuff into a weekly email or monthly training session.
Customer communication is also key. Often marketing teams will want to reserve official email communications to only the largest, or most important changes. But customers (especially B2B customers) want more than that! Whether you use email, a blog, or our Product Hub, giving your customers the details they need is a huge ROI and goodwill generator.
Don’t forget your small launches, they are the bread-and-butter of good product management, and will have a surprisingly large impact on your customer relationships.
* I’m using the generic term “Commercial team” because the responsibilities vary between companies. You can think of this as product marketing, product operations, a commercialization team, or whomever is directly responsible for successful launches.