Welcome to a gluttonous world of instant gratification, one-day shipping, streaming on demand and fast fashion. Thanks to technology, we want what we want right now, and we can usually get it that fast.
Product development is no different. The quicker we can get a new product to market, the faster we can entice buyers and make that money. Speed to market, a clunky phrase that is just what it sounds like, means how fast you can get your product or service on the market — from inception to an actual, purchasable good.
With so much innovation and competition in the marketplace today, being the first to debut a new product or feature has its advantages. Namely, increased revenue. If you can get a product to market before your competitors and you’re the only person offering it, you’ll be snapping up a much larger percentage of consumers.
So, the faster your speed to market, the more successful your company is. Let’s get cracking.
7 ways to improve speed to market
While you want to move fast, you don’t want to cut corners. Here’s what you need to do to get a quality product on the market quickly.
1. Create a solid strategy
The first step of embarking on any new product launch is to preplan the hell out of it. You want to have a plan in place that’s been carefully thought out and thoroughly vetted by your key stakeholders. It also needs to be feasible and reasonable — double-check that it’s actually possible to get everything done in the time allotted.
This will require having a deep understanding of each team’s and contributor’s process, so make sure you’re talking to everyone involved and communicating like an important deadline depends on it.
2. Embrace cross-functional communication
Improving speed to market won’t happen in a silo. You’re going to need a lot of clear, cross-team communication. Good communication — period — is pretty much the name of the game for any successful team effort. Get everyone in the habit of updating each other regularly, whether this looks like scheduled weekly syncs or daily updates in Slack each morning.
It’s easy to get hyper-focused on your own product development tasks and your own team. Encouraging different teams and different roles to communicate more openly will help everyone take a bird’s eye view and work toward your end goal.
3. Hire the best project manager you can afford
These people are worth their weight in gold. A good project manager will keep everyone informed and make cross-functional communication feel easy. They’ll schedule your meetings, take notes, set deadlines and follow up to make sure people are completing things when they say they will. They’ll keep you on budget, on track and on time.
The best project managers will even keep things upbeat and boost morale. When you find a good project manager, hold them close and never let them go.
4. Sniff out the bottlenecks
Once product development is underway, you can start to take a look at the processes you’ve put in place. What’s working well? What’s not? Identify where work is slowing down, so you can figure out how to correct it.
Many teams use a retrospective meeting every two or four weeks to talk about successes and failures in their work process. Schedule something similar at a cadence that makes sense for your speed-to-market plan. This will provide a place to get into the nitty-gritty of your process, make adjustments as needed and eliminate bottlenecks.
5. Consider outsourcing — or don’t
When you’re trying to accelerate your speed to market, it can be tempting to outsource some parts of your process. Outsourcing will save on labor and it can often cut costs. On the other hand, you won’t have the same control as you do with things kept in house, and contracting with another company can lengthen timelines with all the back-and-forth communication that’s needed.
Weigh your options beforehand. Do your internal teams have the capability to produce everything themselves? Do they need training? Consider the cost and time required for outsourcing versus doing things on site.
6. Stay on message
When you’ve got a new and exciting project, it’s only natural to want to make it the best it can possibly be. But when you’re on a serious deadline, you can’t get distracted by extras. Make sure that everything you’re planning for your new product is absolutely essential. Improving speed to market is a time to focus only on have-to-haves rather than nice-to-haves.
7. Set weekly goals
With longer projects like launching a new product, it’s easy to get lost in the enormousness of what lies ahead. Your team needs bite-size milestones they can hit each week to keep them anchored.
Break the project up into smaller and smaller segments until everyone has tasks they can reasonably accomplish each week. This will keep people motivated and give you a clear idea of where you’re at in your trajectory.
How to develop greater go-to-market agility
So you’ve got this great new product — now you need to create a foolproof sales plan. You want the right sales strategy so you can reach the people you need to and lure them in with your shiny, new offer.
When you’re working on your go-to-market strategy, the first thing you want to ask is if your sales team can get the content they want when they need it. For your sales reps to move quickly, they need to have access to the sales collateral that will help them appeal to leads.
Next, take a look at whether this sales content can be customized for the customer. Content that’s been customized to be industry- or role-specific for your prospect is much more persuasive and effective than something that’s been watered down to speak to a broad audience.
How can you improve sales acceleration and make sure your sales team has access to customized content?
Create a centralized content hub where everyone can quickly get what they need. Organize it in a way that’s easy to navigate for your sales team.
Supply your content hub with customizable pieces of collateral so anyone can go in, grab a piece of content and personalize it for their prospect.
A system like this will ensure that your sales reps never have to wait for materials they need. Sales enablement collateral often comes into play near the end of the sales cycle, meaning your reps need to be able to move quickly — they don’t have time to wait. If they can make their own content right when they need it, your go-to-market agility (and by extension, speed to market) is that much better.
But how exactly do you come up with easily customizable content? That’s where templates come in. Create a few standard templates with customizable elements that can be adapted as messaging and market circumstances change. Templatized content means your sales reps will never go without a convincing piece of material, and you’ll be looking at that many more successful deals.
Equip your sales team with the right content
Preparing your sales reps to move fast is the final stage of a solid speed-to-market strategy. And effective sales content will help your team do what they’re best at. It just so happens that we have an entire guide about creating a sales enablement program using customized content. Check it out if you want to learn more: How to achieve consistent storytelling across your sales org.