An interesting service that analyst relations can provide the company’s sales organization is arranging for an industry analyst to be a guest speaker at an internal sales training event. This could span the range from a main stage speech at the annual sales kickoff to a 15-minute discussion as part of a regular weekly sales team call. Topics can cover a broad range from changes in the competitive landscape, to what the analyst is hearing from end users, to why enterprise technology buyers use the analysts. We have yet to hear of a situation where the analyst session was not one of the highest rated sessions at a major sales event. Of course, the analyst has to have great content and snappy presentation skills. But in general feet-on-street sales representatives love to hear what the analysts have to say and to grill them with tough questions.
There are a number of benefits for all constituencies in having an analyst guest speaker:
- Your Sales representatives – valuable information and insights to help them close business
- Sales training department – a special guest that will “perk up the audience,” especially after lunch at a multi-day sales kickoff
- Sales managers
- An agenda item on a regular team call that will get the sales staff to either a) attend and/or b) stop doing email with the mute button on and pay attention
- Competitive market insights that will help them fine tune their plans and sales content
- Building relationships with an analyst that might provide future dividends such as being notified when the analyst hears about a situation where a sales rep is not providing top service
- A fun speaking gig
- An opportunity to pick up interesting insights
- Delivering a valuable service that could enhance the relationship with a client
- Having the top of the Analyst Hierarchy of Needs pinged by being made to feel like a contributor to the client’s success
- Builds a working relationship with Sales
- Enhances the relationships with the analyst
- Generates a series of “quality touches” with the analyst that will keep the vendor top of mind and contribute to other strategic projects (e.g., addressing a problem analyst, a long-range “move the dot” exercise, et cetera)
- Provides an excuse to educate the analyst on important topics as preparation for the engagement
- Encourages the analyst to communicate with AR what the analyst is hearing from end users about the company’s sales efforts, which could in turn be provided to Sales and enhance that relationship
Of course, there are various best practices that have to be put into place to ensure that the engagement goes smoothly and the vendor harvests full business value. In addition there might be the issue of budget, especially if the analyst is required to travel to attend a sales meeting. However, none of these issues should be particularly daunting considering the high ROI for these engagements.
- AR should inquire with the sales training department about what events might be appropriate for an analyst as guest speaker
- AR should generate criteria for which analysts to select for different engagements
- AR needs to be an active manager of the entire speaking opportunity to ensure high business value
Bottom Line: Leveraging an industry analyst as a guest speaker at a sales event provides AR with a great tool for improving its relationships with both the analysts and sales.
Question: AR – Have you ever used an analyst as a guest speaker at a sales event? If yes, what was your experience? Analysts – Do you like speaking to vendor sales teams?