Launching the AR-Sales Partnership: It’s Not About Pushing Out Research Reprints

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThe more awareness sales reps have about the role analysts play in enterprise buying decisions, the more leverage they will have in closing deals.  AR can play a pivotal role in this process by providing Sales with the right information and services, in the right amounts, at the right times during the buying cycle.  With this approach, AR can help drive top line growth and transition from a cost center to a strategic profit center. 

It’s Not About Pushing Out Research Reprints

Quite often the success or failure of the sales representative hangs on how well he or she overcomes a hurdle created by analyst recommendations.  Unfortunately, the typical vendor sales team has not been educated about who the analysts are, what they do, and how to overcome negative commentary.  As a consequence, salespeople experience high levels of frustration as deals go to competitors, sales cycles lengthen, and contract negotiations go in favor of the buyer.

In order to exploit positive research or to mitigate negative analyst comments sales executives need to work with AR to prepare tools and train their sales teams on certain basics about the analysts’ role in the IT industry.  What needs to be avoided is the temptation to overwhelm the sales force with too much training, too many tools, and too much raw information.  The goal of the AR-Sales Partnership is to equip the sales force with the minimal tools and knowledge needed to deal with the analysts and how to get help when the situation moves beyond the training.

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 Continue reading

Getting started with an AR-Sales Partnership is as simple as 1-2-3

icon-dollar-euro.jpgany analyst relations (AR) managers perceive that an AR-Sales Partnership is a complex and time consuming endeavor which they simply do not have time to initiate. While a full scale AR-Sales program for a large vendor does take significant resources, getting started does not have to require a lot of work. Rather, AR can conduct a feasibility pilot for a modest investment.

SageCircle Technique:

  1. Understand your options
    1. Educate yourself about the concept and the issues
    2. Involve stakeholders, both your management and Sales
    3. Make a Go/No Go decision on whether it is practical to proceed to step 2
  2. Determine required investments
    1. Develop a plan
    2. Identify investments required to for a pilot project and estimated requirements for a full rollout
    3. Make a Go/No Go decision on whether to launch a pilot project
  3. Launch a pilot project
    1. Train pilot sales team
    2. Deliver information and tools
    3. Assist on sales deals
    4. Collect data and insights
    5. Make a Go/No decision on whether to move to the next phase of limited production

Bottom Line: Getting started with an AR-Sales Continue reading

Encouraging your Sales Force to ask Questions

icon-dollar-euro.jpgne of the strategic initiatives AR should be focusing on is “Arm Sales – Close Business” which means creating training and tools for the sales organization to deal with analyst impact on sales opportunities. While this is an excellent idea, there is the not-so-small matter of getting Sale’s to cooperate.

Most sales organizations are manically focused on closing business. A common complaint from Sales is that they are bombarded with “junk” from other parts of the company which wastes time and interferes with their single-minded pursuit of making quota. 

One of the very easy tasks that sales representatives can do is ask their prospects and customers about their use of the analysts. This can be done during their initial qualification activities or at any other point in the sales cycle. Why ask questions?  Doing so can:

  • Prevent sales cycles from being derailed
  • Identify situations where a potential lever is available that could accelerate a sales cycle

IT vendor sales representatives are often blind-sided by specific analyst comments late Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Leverage the existing sales infrastructure, don’t reinvent the wheel

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOne of SageCircle’s recommendations for AR programs thinking about launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program is to leverage the existing sales infrastructure for training, information distribution, and sales support. These are all critical aspects of creating a partnership, but AR simply does not have the resources to reinvent what the sales organization has already built. In addition, sales representatives will be much more likely to work within their existing system than to add other communications methods. 

SageCircle Technique:

  • Add an AR-Sales Partnership element to your regular AR Strategic and Tactical Plan including goals for the year
  • 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 Continue reading

The SageCircle post you have been waiting to see

I’m sure this is an announcement that all of our faithful readers have been eagerly waiting to see. [drum roll please] We are pleased to announce that we have updated our brochures and services pages. Excited? Oh, you have not exactly been sitting on the edge of seats waiting for this? Oh, well.

Seriously, the tabs and pages (1/ Advisory, 2/ AR Wiki, 3/ Training, 4/ AR-Sales Partnership) that contain background information on SageCircle services are some of the most visited pages on the blog. This is just a heads up that we have refreshed the Continue reading

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