Enablement is the act of getting people ready for something, in this case, preparing for launching a product. Your executive team expects the organization to market, sell, deliver, and support the product you are launching. Too often, launch readiness activities are plagued by not having enough time for proper preparation, poor planning, and a misunderstanding of what ‘ready’ means.
Define Launch Objectives and Product Launch Strategy
The guardrails around launch readiness are launch objectives and product launch strategy: what we are trying to accomplish and how we expect to make it happen. Getting that right from the beginning helps shape the next step.
Define What Readiness Looks Like
Define what readiness looks like so everyone knows what the state of being ready means. Not only can they feel it, but they can quantify it. It sounds evident as you read it, but the problem is rampant. Readiness is frequently defined by the outputs and not by the outcomes. You want to focus on the results.
The sales team is an excellent example:
Can my sales team identify a good prospect?
Can my sales team identify a bad prospect?
Can my sales team communicate the unique value proposition of our company and our product?
Can my sales team close an opportunity and turn them into a paying customer?
Let’s say the above questions represent readiness for a sales team. You know the sales team is ready if you get to a ‘yes’ for each question.
Next, you have to fill in the blanks for each question.
What attributes define a good prospect?
What attributes define a terrible prospect?
What is the unique value proposition of our product? Our company?
What steps will buyers take to make a purchase?
What information will buyers need to decide to buy, and when will they need it?
Now that you have the answers to those questions, you can move on to the next part: identifying readiness gaps.
Identify Launch Readiness Gaps
There is only a need for readiness activities when there is a gap between the current readiness state and the readiness state needed for a successful product launch. This is called a readiness gap.
Here’s why this is important. Launching a new product into an unfamiliar market differs from launching an existing product into a familiar market. The level of effort needed for readiness is vastly different.
Work with the functional area representatives on your launch team. These are the people you rely on to be experts in their functional area (like the sales team).
Using the sales team again as an example, imagine if the sales team were asked to start selling the product today (before enablement). Would they be ready? Why not?
This exercise helps surface readiness gaps by focusing on outcomes rather than outputs.
Delivering a presentation deck and a link to all the product collateral doesn’t make a salesperson capable of answering the readiness questions posed above. Those are the tools that are elements of sales enablement. They are outputs, not the outcomes you need for a successful launch.
Develop Plans to Close Readiness Gaps
When you understand readiness gaps, you can develop plans to close those gaps. And you have a way to measure if the gaps are closed. You can track progress toward closing readiness gaps and report the status to stakeholders. You can also stand firm when someone wants a deliverable that isn’t necessary.
There will always be requests for more outputs. Keep your focus on the outcomes and ignore the rest.