Typically when it comes to supporting the sales organization the primary focus of AR is helping quota carrying sales representatives mitigate negative analyst commentary and leverage positive analyst research. This is extremely valuable, both to AR and the vendor, but there is another group inside sales that can benefit from AR’s support: sales management.
AR should consider investing in supporting sales managers because building relationships with this key constituency will increase the understanding about how the AR-Sales Partnership program leads to greater cooperation. Remember the AR-Sales Partnership is not just about AR providing value to Sales, but also Sales providing value (e.g., sales impact data, political support and resources) to the AR team.
Supporting sales managers should be done, as in all new initiatives, in phases so that AR can learn the basics before going to advanced activities. Nor does adding this support require any budget in the beginning. Some example activities include:
- AR should conduct a short strategic briefing for the sales managers on how key analysts influence markets and customers
- Level: Basic
- Budget: None
- Effort: Low
- AR can arrange for an analyst to participant on a short phone call as part of the sales executive’s regular team call to answer executive questions (e.g., changes in the competitive landscape or what the analyst is hearing from enterprise buyers about the vendor’s sales effectiveness)
- Level: Intermediate
- Budget: None to a few thousand dollars depending on existing analyst contracts
- Effort: Low to medium
- Arrange for an analyst half-day presentation to sales executives on competitive scenarios, purchaser needs, topical issues and business requirements facing IT executives, and latest competitive insights. (This may be coupled with other activities to complete a full day with the analyst)
- Level: Advanced
- Budget: $5,000 to $20,000, perhaps split with Sales
- Effort: Medium to high
An additional benefit of incorporating sales management support is that any use of analysts with sales executives also improves the relationship between AR and the analyst. The analysts appreciate the opportunity to help clients, and working with sales executives is perceived as a high value interaction. In addition, using analysts with sales should be considered another top-of-mind touch.
- Assess the practical opportunity to work with sales management
- Determine what resources the AR team could potentially devote to this activity
- Lay out a phased approach starting with basic activities
- Approach sales management with a proposal to provide services to them
- Set expectations of the value to them and the very small investment in time on their part
- Conduct a pilot project focusing on one or a small group of sales executives
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot and determine whether to continue the program
Bottom Line: While working with sales executives requires an investment in AR’s most precious resource, time, it can provide significant payback in terms of building relationships with a key constituency. However, AR should be practical and only commit to activities it can realistically deliver.
Question: Have you tried working with your company’s sales executives?
Don’t Know How to Start an AR-Sales Partnership Program? SageCircle offers a Complete Toolkit of Advice and Training
SageCircle’s SageContent™, SageTools™, training, and advisory give AR teams and Sales management the knowledge, best practices, and tools needed to ensure a successful AR-Sales Partnership program. Contact us at 503-636-1500 or “info [at] sagecircle dot com” to learn how we can help you drive top line growth by leveraging the influence of the analysts.