The top 6 reasons why your recent product launch did not reach your sales objectives

Published January 24, 2023 | Written by Maud Huché

Whether you belong to the sales, marketing or R&D, you’ve probably experienced a disappointing product launch at least once.

While your team has put a lot of effort to develop and launch a brand-new product, the financial results after a year or two are, sometimes, far from the expectations, and even close to zero in worst cases.

Over the years at SpecialChem, I have talked to many suppliers and found 6 primary reasons for failure. I hope they help you avoid the same mistakes.


1. You launched your product with the wrong strategy

Before going into the details, I need to define a strategy so we are on the same page.

By “strategy”, I mean that you have clearly:
  • Identified the top priority markets and applications to target
  • Identified the buyer personas, their pains, needs and challenges
  • Identified the value proposition of your product for each target persona
  • Confirmed the technical fit with real product trials

As you develop a new product, you are eager to launch it, and your management is most likely pushing for this to be done as quickly as possible.

But this management pressure often leads the launch team to neglect the market investigation to understand where to sell their new product, and how to market it in a competitive landscape.

To be successful, you must identify your priority applications, understand your value proposition, your future customers' unmet needs, the market trends, the competition, and finally, what makes your product unique in the market.

And you must learn all of this BEFORE your launch.

Now, here is a list of questions which can help you to determine if you are ready for your launch or not:
  • Have we worked seriously prior to the launch to capture the required market knowledge?
  • Have we really made our decisions based on direct market feedback?
  • Have we done this analysis trying to minimize our internal bias?
  • Have we worked with learning partners testing our products and sharing their feedback so we can clearly understand the technical fit and possible limitations?
  • How much confidence do we have that we are targeting the right customers with the right value proposition for the right application?

If you have any doubt or uncertainty when you try to answer these questions, well, I suggest that you take a step back and revisit those questions.

Believe me, that last thing you want to do is launch your product and fail. This is not good for you personally or your company’s or product’s reputation. It may be better to hold off for a couple of months and strengthen your strategy before blazing forward…just hoping for a quick and easy win.

With a solid few months pause, when you come back, you will have a higher degree of certainty for success, and be in a much better position to reach your objectives and beat the competition!
Or, you might decide to kill your product and move forward to your next new idea, as you may find that this new product is not at all attractive for the market! Yes, this can happen, and it is better to face it BEFORE your launch as well. Right?



2. You relied on assumptions and internal beliefs vs. facts

Let's spend some time unpacking this one and check again the process which led you to this product launch.

Have you committed to clarifying the difference between facts and assumptions? Have you really tried to increase your certainty by effectively gathering the right market feedback through customer interviews, surveys, and trials?

At SpecialChem, I have helped many chemical suppliers clarify various dimensions including application fit, product shortcomings for a subset of the target customers, as well as clear advantages within unexpected applications or unexpected regions.

Whatever the new learned fact is, positive or apparently negative, it is always better to know the market situation in order to make the best business decision to gain a clear view on needed investments, the expected market size and ultimately, the ROI.

If you would like to know more about this, I suggest you have a look at our Insight Solutions recommended methodologies.



3. Your organization is not built to learn

In specialty chemicals and materials, your customers need to always test your product first in order to validate how and if it works for their application, their processing conditions, and their formulation.

In many cases, your technical advisors will be required to ensure your product delivers the promised performances. The good news is that their high touch human interactions supporting your customers throughout the specification process will build trust and relationships. It will also allow you to obtain critical data for how your technology performs in the end-use applications – which is invaluable for your own learning and subsequent fine-tuning. This is why product sampling and testing are fundamentally critical for your success.

Your team needs to show that they are available to support the customers, share advice on how to use the product to achieve desired results.

Additionally, once you have put your customers on the right track for optimal testing, your job is to create a dedicated organization regularly following up on the test progress and results.

You will learn tons of valuable information that can only help increase your chance of sales, and also help you in designing and positioning your own case studies for the various end-use applications.

This follow-up also gives you the possibility to interact with your customers and learn:
  • What your customers think about your product?
What are the main benefits for their application and what could or should be improved? 
Are there any limitations to your product?
  • What information you need to provide?
Do you provide enough information? 
Do you need to provide more data to support your customers in understanding how to use your product and make the most of it?
  • What is your customer’s internal situation?
What could be a driver or barrier to this project? This should help you to know more about your customers and the market trends.
I recommend you collect all this information systematically to build a “knowledge library” about this product.

This process will help you make the best technical and business decisions to grow your product sales at a steady pace.



4. Your product or company is not known in your target markets

Let’s assume that you have an excellent product with a clear value proposition. You know whom to target to sell it. But you still struggle to sell it at broad scale.

Well, ask yourself:

  • How can your future customers find you ON THEIR OWN?
  • Is your product discoverable by your future customers?
  • Have you created specific content to show and detail the value proposition of your products?
  • Have you considered all the digital and physical channels used by your target customers?
Talking about digital channels, did you know that SpecialChem combines multiple different types of digital marketing campaigns, PLUS the qualified audience of technical buyers to reach and engage your future customers when they have a need?

With 9 million technical buyers visits in 2022 and 42% of these technical buyers having active projects, SpecialChem is the best channel to make your product discoverable when these technical buyers are searching on our platforms.



5. Your objectives are unrealistic

Sales objectives are always difficult to plan. Many of our clients define their sales objectives based on the production capacities but rarely the market reality. If you had better market knowledge, you would also have a clear visibility on your market size.

For your top priority applications, you could build a model to estimate the application share you can expect based on:
  • How unique is your product or technology? 
To which extent the benefits of your products are better than what is already available on the market? 
Are your competitors already offering similar solutions? 
And what about the price difference?
  • How painful is the problem that is solved by your product or technology?
  • What is the switching cost or barrier to change?
How difficult will it be for your customers to shift from their existing solution to your new product?



6. You lack resources to follow-up with new projects

On top of all the previous points, your people are also critical to your commercial success. Do you have enough people to follow-up with your business leads?

Lead follow-up is not complex, but it requires a well-staffed and well-organized team to be effective. Check out our lead follow-up best practices to maximize your opportunities detection.

If your human resources can limit your business growth, then don’t wait to take measures:
  • Convince your management to hire more people with a simple case. This should not be too difficult if you have “done your homework” as explained in my previous points. This case will prove that there is an attractive business potential for your product.
  • Partner with external companies, like SpecialChem. We provide dedicated resources to execute your digital marketing program. It only requires minimal resources on your side to be effective. You will also benefit from trainings, recommendations and best practices to promote your product in your target market, as well as effective campaigns to engage your future customers with the right content, at the right moment.

I hope this article will help you identify the reasons of a potential commercial failure — and even prevent it.

SpecialChem can help you to build your commercialization strategy within 3 – 4 months by engaging an Insight Solutions project with us. And if you are ready to launch your product, we can help you promote it at large scale, and engage your potential customers with a customized Digital Marketing Program designed to fill your funnel quickly and efficiently with profiled business opportunities ready to engage.



Accelerate your commercialization in 3 to 6 months with SpecialChem
Get fast and reliable insight from our online community of technical buyers on the best market opportunities for your technology and connect with relevant partners at your potential future customers.