B2B Product Launch Best Practices: Coordinating a Successful Team
The phrase “it takes a village” applies to much more than just raising children. Any attempt to build something new, ensure it is properly equipped to succeed and send it off into the world takes a team effort. When it comes to your B2B product launch, it is essential to have the right team members in place AND make sure they have the structure, communication channels and resources they need to succeed. B2B product launch team management and coordination aren’t things you can overlook—the health and happiness of your product “baby” depends on it.
Ensure launch day is memorable, successful and smooth by considering these product launch best practices:
Set shared goals to facilitate ownership
The most important first step to prepare a well-coordinated B2B product launch team is to cultivate a sense of ownership and intention among the team members. Remember: just because you’ve been part of the strategic vision, development and buy-in for this product doesn’t mean the rest of your team has.
Don’t arrive with a launch day plan for your team to execute: build it together. Does this mean every single member of a potentially large product launch team needs to be part of the planning process? Not necessarily, but key stakeholders who can represent the needs, goals and pain points of each team member should be part of the process. If team members are excluded from contributing expertise, raising concerns or collaborating on deliverable timelines, it will be much harder to hold them accountable over the course of product launch planning and execution.
Effective brainstorming is essential to creating relevant and focused shared goals. Consider incorporating different brainstorming methods with different configurations and group sizes to ensure that the full scope of the team is represented in your B2B product launch goals, deliverables and timeline. Reference this list of questions to ask before launching a B2B product: which team members will have valuable answers to some or all of them?
- Build a plan together
- Involve key stakeholders from all relevant departments
- Brainstorm effectively to ensure team member buy-in
Collaborate on a shared checklist
When a product launch team is comprised of members from multiple departments across your organizations, facilitating alignment can be a challenge. In fact, marketing and sales alignment is a common problem that B2B organizations face. Instead of allowing departments to remain siloed while executing against shared goals, create a shared checklist or implement a project management tool to promote transparency and communication across launch teams of all sizes.
There’s no need to start from scratch: reference previous product launch materials and/or templatized checklists like this one to get a sense of what kinds of activities need to be represented across departments. Make sure this document has “one truth,” AKA one, single, unified presence that everyone on your team can access. Project management tools like Trello or Aha! can provide this, as well as a simple Google Document or Sheet. Using a cloud-based tool that automatically updates and allows for shared collaboration will promote communication and transparency across departments as team members execute against their shared goals.
- Develop a timeline of deliverables once shared goals are set
- Refer to past product launches or search for a templatized checklist for a starting point
- Consider using a collaborative tool to track checklist progress
Resist the urge to micromanage
While it’s true that micromanagement tends to reduce employee job satisfaction and increase management stress, it’s not entirely true that micromanaging is always a bad thing. When dealing with a complex, multi-faceted B2B product launch, however, it’s best to leave your micromanagement tendencies at the door.
Instead of relying on one person to oversee every launch-related task, assign deliverables to team members based on both past performance and their future development goals. Depending on the size of your team, it may make sense to involve multiple supervisors or stakeholders from different departments to create these accountability structures. Rely on the expertise of your team—giving team members and their supervisors more autonomy will ultimately make them feel more accountable and responsible to the success of the product launch.
Schedule regular check-ins with relevant stakeholders to understand progress and mitigate potential errors in order to take the pressure off of everyday supervision. Be candid when discussing progress, expectations and impact with the team, and hold management to the same expectations as team members. If your team has a clear understanding of the impact of their work, up-to-date knowledge of progress and potential obstacles to success, high-quality work will follow.
- Create accountability structures based on past performance and future goals
- Schedule regular check ins
- Model transparency and accountability for team members
Incorporate Shine Theory into performance evaluation
Product launches are fast-paced, complex and often stressful projects. While it is almost certain that mistakes will be addressed, it’s not uncommon for successes and small wins along the way to launch day to go unnoticed. Leadership can facilitate better communication and learning around these positive achievements, even small ones, by incorporating elements of Shine Theory in team communication and overall performance evaluation.
While Shine Theory refers specifically to a movement that encouraged women to continually credit the ideas and contributions of other women to attain gender parity in the workplace, the practice is beneficial to teams of all demographics. Shine Theory disrupts unhealthy competition and promotes collaboration by encouraging and rewarding team members for shouting out accomplishments from coworkers that may otherwise go unseen by management.
Tracking these shout-outs and kudos during individual and team meetings can provide data for an overall performance metric, both for the team and each member. How many times did you acknowledge someone’s success? What new connections and successes were formed because of these shout-outs? What process improvements were made because someone was given a kudos and other people replicated their success?
- Internalize Shine Theory in team culture to facilitate success
- Cultivate collaborative attitude; everyone succeeds or fails together
- Incorporate Shine Theory principles into measurable job performance metrics