AR teams that are early in an AR-Sales Partnership Program launch logically take a “wholesale” approach to getting the word out about how Sales can take advantage of AR’s expertise to handle the influence of the analysts on sales deals. This wholesale approach typically includes sending out mass emails both directly or through field communications, participating in regular all hands teleconferences, and posting information on an internal portal. These are all worthy activities. Unfortunately they might not be sufficient steps because sales teams are bombarded with similar messages from other parts of the company and AR’s news gets lost. To cut through the noise, AR should incorporate some retail selling to complement the wholesale outreach.
By “retail” we mean working with an individual sales representative or small team in a pilot project (see AR–Sales Partnership [part 4]: Take baby steps by rolling out a small pilot phase). This affords AR the opportunity to work with Sales on a consistent basis to identify opportunities to help in a deal and try to inculcate new habits. While significantly more time consuming than the typical wholesale approach, adopting retail techniques can help AR develop credibility, generate testimonials to be used in wholesale outreach, and potentially start word-of-mouth buzz. The last is especially useful because nothing works better than one sales rep telling another “You have to work with AR because they can turn that Magic Quadrant situation around for you!”
- Incorporate a pilot project into the AR-Sales Partnership launch plan
- Select a pilot group who will let AR participate in regular pipeline calls
- Be generous in offering time to help the sales pilot team with leveraging positive analyst research and mitigating negative commentary
- Encourage the pilot team to get into the habit of conferring with AR early and often on deals
- Once AR has established credibility ask the sales pilot to quietly spread the word to sales colleagues that might need assistance or who are savvy at using new resources
- After a big win with AR assistance, ask the pilot team to participate in a case study or testimonial that can be used with the broader sales team
Bottom Line: Early in an AR-Sales Partnership, AR needs to invest extra time working with an individual representative or small team in order to ensure that someone “gets” the value of working with AR. With the credibility that is earned in an effective pilot project, AR can springboard to broader acceptance and collaboration with Sales. Creating this personal relationship with sales also helps test your pilot program and allows you to adjust it before taking on a larger project.
Question: AR – What techniques have you found useful in getting Sales to work with AR?