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The Problem-Focused, Customer-Centric Launch: 5 Steps to New Product Success

Posted by Debbie Myers on January 23rd, 2014

Stories of new products rarely have happy endings. For every blockbuster, hundreds of innovations with great potential flame out.


We say “hundreds” because the exact number of new product failures is difficult to pinpoint. Depending on the source, data suggest that anywhere from 67% to 95% of new products fail. Even when a new product is not an outright failure, its launch often falls short of expectations, and significant infusions of human and financial capital are required to achieve acceptable performance.

This issue triggered a four-year study to identify proven methods of securing both the launch and the long-term sales success of new products. The study examined the product launch efforts of companies in industries as diverse as aerospace and pharmaceuticals.

The findings:

Products and services should be developed with an “outside-in” approach:

  • Pre-launch customer intelligence should be focused on an exploration of customer problems, instead of the current practice of determining customer interest

The “handoff” between Marketing and Sales should include:

  • Identified customer populations segmented by needs, not attributes
  • Customer insights the sales force can use to challenge the customer’s status quo
  • Sales materials that are problem-focused, not product-focused
  • Tools that enable the sales force to monetize the economic value of the solution and define the costs of maintaining the status quo
  • Sales simulations that motivate the sales force to uncover customer problems, rather than present technological features

When these methods are applied successfully, the results are impressive: Companies that adopt these suggestions achieve sales gains of up to 130% of goal and margin gains of 20% over existing product lines.