TOM STEENBURGH: Yeah, you’d expect that figuring out how to sell the product would be – you would start figuring out what that new sales process would be in the design process itself. Most companies don’t do that, although I would say that if you think of the role of a strategic account manager who sometimes plays a role in the design process and certainly plays a role in the sales process, getting them involved early is a key to making that happen.

Thomas Steenburgh, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, was inspired by his early career at Xerox to discover why firms with stellar sales and R&D departments still struggle to sell new innovations. The answer, he finds, is that too many companies expect shiny new products to sell themselves. Steenburgh explains how crafting new sales processes, incentives, and training can overcome the obstacles inherent in selling new products. He’s the coauthor, along with Michael Ahearne of the University of Houston’s Sales Excellence Institute, of the HBR article “How to Sell New Products.”

Why It’s So Hard to Sell New Products …

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