By Andrew Lester, Managing Partner, Carr-Michael

A common response when asking if a company is making progress is to hear of the latest new products (or lack of) that are being launched. The development and launch of all new products, or upgrades to existing ones has become a major part of modern business almost irrespective of the market you work in.

Too often, however, the company tends to rely on a small cadre of individuals to come up with the new products. Businesses regularly focus on technology and attributes and fail to recognise the major opportunties available from the associated elements of the product/service sale: administration, availability, back up support, technical advice etc.

In making progress and developing a winning team, companies need to take a wider look at the progress they are making, not just on the products, but on all elements of the proposition. This opens up greater opportunities for development and growth.

The recession has given us many opportunties to develop new products and services. Recessions are great for innovation: the drive for replacing lost revenues with new products and services reflects a core business need. Customers have demanded more for less and we have all had to look to ways to improve the value we offer whilst making money.

Additionally, companies that have succeeded in launching new/revised offers have benefited from a double effect: not only have they produced and sold better value products and services, they have learned how to do so in this current market giving them a significant competitive advantage.

Progress in products and services is not just about what you are offering. It is most definitely about who is buying. Recessions have been great for innovations and new products, but they have also been great for expanding the market place for existing products and services. In recessions winning companies carefully plan not only their new product introductions, but also how they can use them to cross-sell established propositions. Opening up new segments (geographic, needs based, premium / economy versions) provides a new set of customers with the opportunity to try all of the company’s products, not just the “door openers”.

In terms of motivational impact, the launch of new products delivers a great boost for the whole company, well beyond the immediate financial return. The launch of new products usually requires everyone in the busienss to be involved in some way. This provides a major opportunity to use new products as a reason to improve and make progress on all elements of the business including support functions. Leaving “progress” merely to front line products and services misses the key to all companies: if customer value is to be added in every function of the company, each department must continually improve the value it adds and demonstrate the progress achieved.

As we sit now at the end of January 2010, does your company recognise the power of new products to demonstrate progress to customers and just as importantly employees and shareholders?

To comment or ask questions: andrewlester@carr-michael.com. For more information on driving progress and growth please visit our web site www.carr-michael.com

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