AR-Sales Partnership is powerful… and scary

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOne of the more common inquiries we are handling these days is on the topic of launching an AR-Sales partnership program. The AR manager is obviously intrigued by the idea but a little concerned as well.  This would be true for any person confronting a potentially new challenge. In addition, other AR pundits like Forrester’s Kevin Lucas have actively advised AR programs not to support sales in a number research notes like “Industry Analyst Relations Should Focus On Achievable Objectives: Supporting Sales Is The Hardest Challenge For AR” and “Should AR Focus On Sales? It’s Not Just The Wrong Question – It’s Downright Misleading”. Wow, that does make working with Sales to be a scary proposition.

 However, we know from research over the last eight years and personal experience running an AR-Sales program at one of the largest global vendors that when done right an AR-Sales partnership delivers real business value. Let’s quickly review some pros and cons:

 Why consider avoiding it

  • It might open the floodgates as there are many more sales reps than AR team members
  • Getting Sales attention and time is difficult
  • Developing a collaborative relationship takes time
  • How do you find the time for a new initiative when you are already overloaded

 Why consider doing it

  • Provides your company with a competitive advantage
  • Attacks a significant pain point for Sales – one which is often unexpressed
  • Promotes AR as a critical strategic initiative because AR drives revenues
  • Creates an information pipeline from customers on analyst usage and economic impact
  • Develops a powerful ally with political clout and resources
  • Enhances AR’s source of customer stories, which are the most powerful currency to use with the analysts

 BTW Kevin, it is a hard challenge for AR, if it wasn’t everybody would have an AR-Sales program. But the ROI is so great that just to ignore the opportunity – especially in a recession – is foolhardy.

 SageCircle Technique:

  • Add an AR-Sales Partnership element to your regular AR Strategic and Tactical Plan including goals for the year
  • Take a phased approach that starts modestly and expands only with experience and incremental investments from executive sponsors
  • Start with a modest pilot project (SageCircle clients can request a copy of the “Simple Steps for Starting an AR-Sales Program”)
  • Identify the key players inside the sales organization who do the day-to-day work when it comes to training, field communication, and sales support
  • Add simple AR content to existing sales training, newsletters, or staff activities

 Bottom Line: During any time, but especially during a recession, AR needs to focus on the activities that matter to executive sponsors. Launching a low-key AR-Sales partnership pilot is a critical success factor for illustrating how AR is not a cost center, but a revenue-generating, strategic activity. However, AR must be practical and efficient by taking a phased approach and leveraging the existing sales infrastructure.

Question: What are the barriers to you launching an AR-Sales Partnership pilot?

Get Up to Speed Quickly by Eliminating the “Re-invention of the Wheel”

To help AR executives and teams decide when and how to support sales, SageCircle has a public half-day workshop focused on how to incorporate an AR-Sales Partnership Program into the AR portfolio.

Key Issues to be addressed in this workshop include: 

  • What are the characteristics of a great AR-Sales partnership plan that provides the necessary detail without taking too much work?
  • How can AR sell the AR-Sales program to its management and Sales management?
  • Should AR work with the existing sales infrastructure or develop its own capabilities?
  • What is the right balance of information and tools that will make sales reps more effective without taking up too much of their time?
  • What are the risks that AR should be aware of when it comes to launching an AR-Sales Partnership?

The next session of the Launching an AR Sales Partnership workshop is on Tuesday, June 16th, from 8 am to 12 pm PT in the Silicon Valley. The cost is only $495. Click here to learn more about the workshop, including the agenda, and to register.

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