"Only 31% of companies believe their internal organization is well prepared for an upcoming product launch." --MediaMobz.com
It's hard to accept that quote, but my experience tells me it's accurate. Even with all the activities to get an organization ready to launch and all the effort that goes into building sales tools and mountains of marketing assets, we still wind up in the same place. Someone in our organization complained that their team wasn't prepared for the launch.
If your organization is one of the 31%, consider yourselves launch rockstars.
Launch readiness isn't about outputs. It's about outcomes.
Capabilities Define Product Launch Readiness
Giving a salesperson a sales presentation, no matter how carefully crafted and beautifully designed, doesn't mean they can sell a product.
Capabilities are the cornerstone of launch readiness. It's not the number of meetings, the late-night Zoom sessions, or the never-ending requests for marketing assets. The ability to do something successfully is valued the most.
Let's use your sales team as an example. You will likely get eight answers if you ask six salespeople what they need to be ready for the next product launch. And the answer to what they need will change weekly. And every request for a sales tool or other marketing asset is a top priority.
Asking the sales team (or any other team) what they need always results in demands for what they want. What they want causes the list of activities and deliverables to expand to a level that isn't possible to complete and doesn't improve the ability to sell. If you're unfamiliar with what is good enough, it's hard to push back.
Capabilities create a structure for prioritizing what is needed for success. Let's take the sales team once again. What capabilities will they need?
They need the capability to identify and qualify a potential sales prospect
They need the capability to guide a sales prospect to a close (purchase)
They need the capability to complete the paperwork to book the sale and get paid a commission
Of course, each capability expands into a set of activities and deliverables. And now, they can be prioritized based on a set of agreed-upon capabilities. If a request for a sales tool or marketing asset doesn't help develop a capability, set it aside and deal with it later.
Expand this way of thinking to every functional area impacted by a product launch. What about customer success, finance, the digital marketing team, field marketing, and channel partners? What capabilities will enable them to support your product launch?
Every product launch is different and needs a distinct focus on capabilities. One launch could have a capability deficit in sales, and another could be elsewhere. Capabilities provide the structure required to identify readiness gaps, develop plans to address them and improve the likelihood of a successful launch.
Launch Deliverables Don't Equal Launch Capabilities
Building more sales tools and marketing assets does not produce the capabilities needed for a successful product launch.
If a truckload of lumber is delivered to your house, does that mean you can build a deck? Building a deck requires knowledge, skill, and experience as a carpenter.
The lumber doesn't give the carpenter the capabilities needed to build a deck. The lumber is an ingredient in the same way a sales presentation is an ingredient.
Too many organizations build a launch checklist. The spirit of a launch checklist is well-intentioned and can produce good results for a while. The problem with checklists is that they focus on deliverables rather than capabilities.
A reminder: providing a salesperson with a sales presentation doesn't mean that salesperson can sell. It's an essential ingredient, but only an ingredient. They need to know how to use the sales presentation to guide a sales prospect to purchase. The presentation is one tool used in one step of a buyer's journey.
Capabilities Don't Create Themselves
Just like a truckload of lumber doesn't give someone the skills of a carpenter, a sales presentation doesn't give a salesperson the talent to sell a product.
They need to know how the deck will be used, the building codes, the permitting process, the tools required and how to use them, and the techniques to efficiently build a deck.
I'll repeat what I said earlier because it's important. More deliverables do not develop or improve capabilities. They merely add to the growing pile of stuff that gets put into the document cemetery, where it is forgotten.
Ask yourself the following questions for every deliverable on your launch checklist.
What capability does this deliverable support?
Will this deliverable improve the capabilities we need for a successful product launch?
How will we ensure this deliverable is used effectively?
Question one helps prioritize the deliverable. Question two helps scope the effort. Question three helps validate that what you did for question two is accomplished.
A Launch Readiness Canvas
We can improve your product launch readiness with a tool. It's the Launch Readiness Canvas, which you can find in our website's Worksheets and Templates section. Use the worksheet to help you and your launch team identify the critical capabilities needed by functional area, assign owners, and track progress.