How one brand cracked the disposable contact lens market
This case study illustrates 4 key points with great examples
- The challenge of having a technical expert between you and your customers
- The difficulties in launching a new technical product into a traditional market not used to change
- The value of early access to large volumes of high-quality feedback on a product launch allowing the campaign to flex quickly based on market reaction
- Traditional visiting reps are severely limited when you wish to cover a large base of retailers quickly; telephone options offer better coverage at dramatically lower costs, with better results
The contact lens market is often viewed as complex to launch new products; difficult to create change and difficult to influence end-user adoption. The root cause of these challenges is the professional that shields the end user: the Optician.
While the Optician plays a vital role in providing technical and wellbeing help for clients, they can also prevent users from finding out about and benefitting from new developments that may be beneficial to them.
This case study details the story of one product launch and how the brand was able to influence Opticians for the benefit of both Optician and end user, whilst successfully bringing this new product to market.
The brand had a ground-breaking new contact lens that was technically superior to other products on the market, more comfortable and affordable. So Konnexx was briefed on a simple job to send out samples with a brief to seek feedback and follow up once they were sent, to ensure that feedback was gained. For Konnexx this was a simple application of their Virtual Territory Management (VTM) concept. It was felt that this would perform better than face-to-face Rep visits and improve uptake.
The problems started once samples had been sent. Opticians took no action to introduce them to clients. The feedback Konnexx received was that the Optician had evaluated the lens technically, but made no move to introduce it to end users, simply discarding the samples having taken them out of the packets.
Because we were gathering a lot of feedback quickly, we were able to spot this trend early and diagnose the issue: Opticians like technical data, product specs and clinical evidence but were not used to trying, recommending or selling this product, so the samples did not reach end users for testing as anticipated.
The VTM process quickly identified the problem and from this strategy evaluation Konnexx was able to design and get approval of a new 5-step approach to use the VTM process to send a second set of samples:
- Send sample. Call, engage Optician and ask them to take it out of the pack so that we could ask them what they thought of it?
- Arrange with Optician to send further samples with agreement that they would use the sample themselves, with their staff or on a “tame” in-house tester. Using a hand holding process we encouraged Opticians to try it and use it so that they and we could ask questions and give feedback.
- In steps 1, 2 and 3 Konnexx dealt with all of the questions, objections and complaints responding to enquiries then sending clinical and technical data, specs and evidence. To undertake this work each member of our team was fully trained to ensure they were product familiarised and credible.
- Help the Optician to pick 3-5 contact lens existing customers who had lens fitting appointments within 2-3 weeks. With the agreement of the Optician, we supplied sample lenses of the appropriate prescription, so that the Optician could fit the new lenses for users to compare with their usual lens.
- Phone to follow up after the fitting. We didn’t sell the lens at this point, but just sought comparison feedback and asked structured reportable questions. We made it really clear that we wanted patient feedback from them.
- We designed evaluation forms to encourage measurable feedback from Opticians, their staff and even the trial users.
Opticians were helped to run an effective test of the new lenses and found that their end users liked the lens when given the chance to evaluate it. This resulted in sales of lenses and strong recommendations from Opticians.
So the process worked beautifully. On the group of Opticians branches and accounts that we were allocated orders quickly grew to from £385K to over £1 million in under 3-years, and in no time we were the best performing account team for the new lens.
Konnexx helped the brand break into the new wider market and were the first sales territory anywhere in the brand to generate £1 million in sales.
Why this process worked
The VTM process is about data driven campaigns that react quickly to the conditions in the market to give a band the best chance of success. By gathering a large and accurate volume of data quickly, you are making campaign decisions based on fact not guesswork.
Visiting reps have a host of distractions that prevent them from gathering the specific data you need in the format and volume necessary to make good decisions, but the VTM telephone-based approach is able to gather far more data, more accurately, in less time.
Konnexx collects the data that helps drive sales and development. VTM process is rich with data because we are forced to get data. We don’t visit so we don’t get chance to see, feel or guess anything. But that perceived weakness is our strength. We build telephone relationships fast on the phone, as fully trained and qualified telephone advisers, and we ask questions and get reportable data that a rep wouldn’t or couldn’t. We ‘live by data’. We monitor, evaluate, analyse and report. We don’t just focus on the sale and the commission. We ensure that the brand has everything we know fast and in real time in digestible form, so that they can track and make important decisions fast as well.
For the sales director, having Konnexx involved in retail or field sales gives them a fresh, independent view on sales direction and strategy to supplement their own expertise. We bring 25 years of applied sales experience across all of our target sectors and love to add cross sector knowledge.