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Product of course wants a new product out in market ASAP. Do you have any tips on how you can negotiate with them to prioritize a solid launch which may mean a couple extra weeks of planning? What's a solid timeline in your opinion?

4 Answers
Jodi Innerfield
Jodi Innerfield
Salesforce Senior Director, Product Marketing Launch Strategy & Emerging ProductsJanuary 13

Launching too soon is a major red flag--I wrote all about it in a recent post !

What distinguishes a "meh" product launch from a great product launch? 

1 - Showing the product in your assets and launch material

2 - Having customer testimonials that your product is as good as you say it is

3 - Having a product that meets the needs of your customers 

If your product isn't ready enough to meet one or more of those criteria, it's not going to be a successful product launch. Both product management and product marketing teams all have the same goal--a successful product launch! I would articulate to your PMs what's currently missing from the launch plan to make it a successful launch if you launch too early. Highlight what a difference you'll be able to make with the extra time, and make sure they understand the risks of launching ASAP before you're ready. You won't always successfully negotiate the timeline you're looking for, but you can at least manage expectations this way. 

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Sarah Scharf
Sarah Scharf
Vanta VP of Product and Corporate MarketingOctober 28

Of course! And for the record (and in case my product team is reading this ::waves::) that is a very healthy and constructive tension.

Coordinating launches is all about tradeoffs. How I would approach is:

  • Articulate the tradeoffs: Clearly lay out what PMM and other stakeholders could produce with another weeks vs at the proposed launch date. Ideally, you have examples of launches that have been rushed and ones that have been done “right,” with results you can point to. Make this pre/post as clear as possible.
  • Understand the urgency: On the flip side, do your diligence as to why the team feels the need to launch ASAP. Is this feature addressing an issue that’s causing churn? Is the sales team begging for it? Once you understand and empathize with the urgency, you can…
  • Jointly create a plan: Ideally, if the tradeoffs are clear, you can reach a mutually agreeable date. But there are many other ways to find common ground. If the main concern is unblocking sales, you can enable the field to offer the product in certain instances. Or you can agree for the feature to go live on one date and the launch to happen on another (pushing code ≠ a release!).

There will be certain launches you will compromise on, and vice versa. But over time, as you go through more launches together, this discussion becomes easier to navigate.

632 Views
Ryane Bohm
Ryane Bohm
Clari Head of Product MarketingNovember 4

Lauching too soon is a major red flag internally and to the market and it is often why 50% of product launches that fail to meet business targets (McKinsey). When you are being pushed to launch too quickly (which happens all too often) I recommend helping to build understanding of what the characteristics of a successful product launch looks like:  

- a company-wide initative with executive buy-in 

- press-worthy moments that are decoupled from a PR 

- a program that was planned well in advance for proper execution.  

A solid timeline for a high prioritiy Tier 1 launch is typically 3-6 months before actual GA to pre-educate the market, recruit pilot customers, and create momentum with key logos. Without those things, your launch will likely not move the needle or hit your desired outcomes. 

331 Views
Dave Wilt
Dave Wilt
Affinity Head of Product MarketingApril 1

I agree with Jodi's criteria here, and from her blog I particularly agree with messaging being validated (clear, compelling, credible and competitive.) Other potential go/no-go criteria could include whether CS and Support are ready to answer questions, SalesOps/RevOps is ready to process an order (for short sales cycles)... Having these (or other) criteria agreed to in advance by leadership and baked into the launch process is a big help to avoid the situation in the future, less so if you have a product gun to your head right now.

What's the point of launching a new product you aren't ready to sell? For B2B direct sales models, Sales can help make a better decision for the company. If Sales has been burned in the past they can be granted a go/no-go veto and use their judgment with criteria vs. perhaps urgent revenue objectives.  

What's the point of launching a new feature aren't ready to support? If not too bureaucratic for your culture, you could have heads or appointed reps from Sales, Marketing, CS and Product all give green lights (turn their keys?) before launching.

Of course, be careful what you wish for. If PMM is on the hook for those 3 criteria and it's you asking to delay revenue (in their eyes), you may be on hot seat to explain "why it takes so long" so be prepared. You may also need to reframe the question from "will this delay revenue" to "will this hurt revenue overall."  

Launches help generate revenue because they focus the attention of some part of your target audience on what you have to say for a few brief, shining moments in the buyer journey, from a LinkedIn post to a landing page to an initial sales conversation. That attention is increasingly expensive and valuable and most of it cannot be rehydrated at some future date when the messaging, customer evidence and sales pitch are better. The customer checked out your landing page, or talked to a rep, and was underwhelmed. Most are not giving you a second chance for the appropriate amount of whelming, so why blow it?

Attention is a terrible thing to waste.

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