After months (or even years) of preparing your new product for its commercial launch, it’s important to consider marketing strategies that will leverage your distribution channel to help maximize ROI. A new product launch in the B2B space can be complex and costly, and you only get one chance to do it right.
Intentionally using your internal sales team and dealer network to drive interest and demand before focusing on the end-user audience will allow for more efficient and targeted spending of your marketing budget. Taking the time to lay a strong foundation throughout the channel, before you launch to farmers, will set the stage for long-term success.
Here are three simple tips to help you prepare for a successful product launch this fall:
1. Start with the sales team
Taking the time to engage, educate and empower your sales channel is critical in the early stages of a product launch. It can be tempting to skip this step and dive directly into promoting the product to the end-user (most likely the farmer). However, relying solely on creating farmer demand to move inventory and generate sales often fails.
Before the official unveiling of the new product, consider hosting an internal launch for your sales and marketing team (in-person or virtual). The goal of this event is to get them excited to talk about the new product with their customers and ensure they feel confident and equipped to answer questions. When a salesperson doesn’t feel they can effectively talk about a new product, they may focus on other products they are more comfortable promoting. Training your sales team before a product is officially launched can go a long way.
Here are a few marketing tactics to include at your next internal product launch:
- Product technology overview: Bring in your research team to share how the product works and give an overview of trial results.
- Value proposition: Clearly outline what makes the product special and different, rather than simply listing the features and benefits.
- Competitor battle card: Consider developing a battle card to highlight how your product stacks up to key competitors in the market. A battle card can be used as a ‘cheat sheet’ outlining the top features and benefits of your product vs. the competition. You can develop the battle card as a printed piece for your sales team, or make it available online for all stakeholders to access. Example shown below.
- Pricing and program information: For more complex products and pricing strategies, think about developing a Margin Calculator (for dealers) and an ROI calculator (to use with farmers).
- Selling workshop: Give your team the opportunity to practice handling various sales objections and allow them to get comfortable talking about the product.
2. Empower the dealer network
In the B2B space, the product end-user is not your primary customer. It’s vital for marketers to develop strategies that will motivate the channel to take interest in your product and give it shelf space. Implementing ways to ensure dealers want to position your products as an essential part of their overall product mix should be the focus.
How can you do this? Similar to Tip #1, taking the time to soft launch the new product to your dealers and developing sales and marketing tools specific to their needs (not the farmer) will allow them to familiarize themselves with the product. In turn, they will feel equipped to train their own sales and marketing teams.
Here are a few ideas to empower the dealer network:
- Invite your dealers (and their sales team) to a product showcase event.
- Host product training webinars for your dealer network (keep them short and concise to increase attendance).
- Make it a priority to outline the margin and long-term growth opportunity.
- Share the product trial data and make it easy for dealers to access.
- Launch a dealer contest that will motivate them to talk about your product to their customers.
3. Make the buying process easy
When you start promoting a new product to the broader farmer audience, it is critical to ensure that the path to purchase is clear and easy. For B2B companies, this can be tough because the farmer relationship is mostly owned by the dealer and leading farmers to the right location (quickly) can be challenging.
It is common for agrimarketers to try and oversimplify the buyer’s journey in their advertising with call-to-actions such as “contact your dealer to purchase” or “ask your sales rep for more information”. Without a clear path to purchase, a good sales opportunity can be lost.
A few ideas to consider include:
- Create a ‘find your dealer’ tool on your website, where a farmer can see various locations within a reasonable distance from their farm.
- Use digital advertising and various geo-targeting tactics to connect farmers with dealers in their area.
- Develop a product landing page that will allow a prospective customer to connect with a sales rep and consider including a virtual chatbot to help answer initial questions.
- Consider implementing a sales enablement strategy designed to connect prospective customers (that come through your product landing page) to their preferred dealer, without having to speak to a rep first.
By applying these steps, your distribution channel will feel prepared and supported as the more ‘farmer-focused’, demand-creation strategy is executed. It will also give you the time and opportunity to receive feedback that you could incorporate into your overall launch strategy before the official campaign begins. A more targeted approach to your product launch allows for more strategic spending of your marketing budget and better ROI overall.
About the writer
Carly Sabourin – VP, Sales and Marketing
Carly is first and foremost a passionate agrimarketer. Growing up on a family grain farm, her love for agriculture started early and helped shape her personal and professional life. She holds an MBA in Food and Agribusiness from the University of Guelph and has over 15 years of international experience in business development, strategic growth, marketing and communications. Learn more about Carly here.