Product innovation – sales needs to join the game


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Competition continues to increase in today’s global market. No industry is immune. Companies in the emerging economies are doing things quicker, cheaper, and better than yesteryear. In that market milieu leading companies are changing what it takes to win the innovation race.

So how do companies get better at bring innovative and cost effective products to the market? How can they not only stay in the race but also make sure they make it to the finish line first? McKinsey explored this question and suggested the answer is not just about doing a better job doing what they are doing.

Regarding innovation the authors suggest: “More focused collaboration among multiple functional groups notably marketing and sales, operations, engineering, R&D, and procurement.” The authors go on to suggest that if companies can achieve this collaboration – “better products, happier customers, higher margins, and, ultimately, a stronger ability to innovate – should serve these organizations well in years to come.”

When it comes to the sales function if one agrees with this collaborative picture of the future of product innovation, it means some changes need to be made in the attitudes and practices of sales leadership. In means the sales team should not only be concerned about how to sell value; they should contribute to how to design value. Let’s explore this challenge.

Most sales forces are busy doing what they are doing. So is it really a good idea to add to their list of responsibilities? The answer, of course, varies by industry, company, and competitive profile. However, what constitutes value tends to shift over time and the individual sales manager and sales rep is in the best position to be aware of and be an early warning system for that value migration.

So, we suggest they can do it and in many cases should do it. Given large companies have hundreds of really smart sales people interacting everyday with really smart customers, it’s easy to imagine acquiring a lot of information and insights that could contribute to creating that next great product.

If you are interested in learning more about training your sales force when introducing new products, two prior posts you might find interesting are:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Ruff
For more than 30 years Richard Ruff has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Dick has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Dick is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers, and the Sales Training Connection.


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