5 Things Worth Fighting For When Launching Your Next Blockbuster Product

Fred Marshall


Successfully launching a new brand is one of the most exciting and challenging things you’ll ever do in your career. It takes deep collaboration and coordination across multiple teams in the days, weeks, and months leading up to a launch.

Building a reputation as a team player is critical, but there’s another super power that’s worth developing: Having the courage to fight for what the brand needs to be successful, but doing so in a way that feels collaborative, other focused, and productive.

Here are five things worth fighting for when launching your next brand.

#1 Build in Coaching Pull-Through from the Beginning

The success of a launch lives or dies in the coaching and pull-through phase. If it’s approached as an afterthought, and your district managers aren’t prepared, the brand will suffer. This is one of the most critical mistakes sales leaders and sales training can make in the lead up to a launch.

If you find that the team is starting to discuss coaching and pull-through the day after the national meeting —you’re doing it wrong. Fight for building in training for coaching and pull-through before the launch meeting. How? Remind sales leaders what’s at stake. Early stumbles in execution can have a lasting negative impact on a brand’s long term growth. Early traction matters in the days and weeks after a launch. Great pull-through is like an insurance policy on your brand’s success. It’ll ensure that your salesforce executes effectively and delivers the early traction your brand needs to become a blockbuster.

#2 Advocate for Message Simplicity

Make the case for simple and clear messaging. The promotional review committee will typically insist on a message that is too long and overly complicated. As a member of the launch team, it’s your job to advocate for a simple and clean core message that physicians can actually remember.

Fighting for message simplicity goes beyond the core message—the sales force needs a message that is both easy to remember and impactful by segment. When advocating for simplicity, consider the two fundamental types of messages needed for a brand launch:

  • The brand message: one core message that is segment-agnostic and true in every single situation
  • The customer segment message: one message that is segment-specific and addresses unique customer motivations while still amplifying your core message

Messages that are simple, clear, and impactful are the messages that get remembered.

But what about fair balance? How do you stay compliant? The best method is to have a simple summary message that you can bookend around all the fair balance details the promotional review committee will require. Some brand teams refer to it as the “strategic narrative.” Examples include Pfizer’s famous “Lower is Better” message for Lipitor. Or the message: “Every millimeter counts.” for an ophthalmic product for macular degeneration. Then you can go into more detail, provide fair balance, and then end with the, easy to remember, simple summary message. Message simplicity is the cornerstone of a great launch. Like Apple’s famous message for the original iPod music player: “A thousand songs in your pocket.”

#3 Push for More Verbalization Time

How many times have you had your 90-minute verbalization workshop cut down to 45 minutes? It’s absolutely critical that sales training make the case for rigorous verbalization time early in the process of building out the block agenda for the launch meeting. Make the case early and often that verbalization time is critical for gaining early traction for the brand. You can position it this way: “Cutting verbalization will directly impact the brand’s early traction. We can’t afford to do that.”

Verbalization and practice time is critical in ensuring the sales force is prepared to sell confidently and execute with agility when it’s time to launch, particularly in highly competitive markets. There will always be a counterpunch when launching in a competitive space against a big brand that’s well entrenched. Fighting for verbalization and practice time will help your sales force feel prepared for objections and confidently drive treatment choice using a message that resonates.

#4 Make the Case for a Bigger Budget

Advocate for more money early in the launch planning process by clearly establishing how a bigger training budget will ensure that we create a clear line of sight between brand strategy and face-to-face execution.

You could say something like: “As you know, it’s essential to create a clear line of sight between brand strategy and face-to-face execution, but to make sure that happens we’re going to need a bigger budget.” Then make sure each line item in your sales training deliverables directly contribute to that outcome. It’s also useful to remind others what’s at stake if we don’t do that well.

#5 Take the Time to Wrap Your Data in a Compelling Story

In some markets, such as oncology, it’s incredibly tempting to be data-heavy when launching a new brand, but people don’t remember numbers—they remember stories.

Using stories to demonstrate to physicians the impact of making a different treatment choice is one of the most powerful ways to deliver your core message in a conversational way. But, to create a genuinely compelling story, you also need to understand customer’s motivators by looking for the “why” behind a customer’s decision.

Never assume you understand a customer’s motivation. You can learn what a physician values by asking the following types of questions:

  • What do you typically do when you have a patient with this particular disease state under these conditions?
  • What do you worry about when you’re treating this?
  • What do you hope to gain?
  • What do you hope to avoid?
  • Why is that so important?

The answer to these questions, especially the “Why” question is powerful. You’re likely to find underlying motivators like: “I want to deliver better outcomes, lower the cost of care, and improve the quality of care and so on.

Asking the right questions will give you the information you need to craft an impactful story backed by data that prioritizes and supports each physician’s desired outcomes and underlying motivators.


Coaching and pull-through, message simplicity, verbalization time, a bigger budget, and crafting a compelling story are five key areas that are worth fighting for when planning your launch meeting. For your new brand to achieve its full potential, sales training can make a huge difference and directly support moving the needle in highly competitive markets.

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