The ultimate goal of Analyst Relations is to drive revenues for your company. Analysts influence revenues in a variety of ways that may impact your sales team and how they interact with current or prospective customers. An effective AR program recognizes that there needs to be a high level of cooperation between Sales and AR. The basis of this cooperation is mutual assistance, collaboration, and communication. This does not happen by accident, and should be part of your overall AR plan.
Obviously you have to develop your program in conjunction with the needs of your particular sales team needs, but some basic concepts apply to all AR teams.
#5 – Feed analyst research to Sales that can be used as collateral.
How you distribute analyst research will depend on the analyst firm and your contracts. However, summary reports, abstracts, and public information can always be passed to the sales team. This is often done well by creating a “silver bullet” memo that puts the research in context and positions it clearly for the sales team. By giving them simple and clear direction you eliminate the misuse of the analyst research. (We have a sample Silver Bullet layout to help you avoid reinventing the wheel, give us a call at 650-274-8309 to get a copy.)
More detailed research may require you to purchase reprint rights. Again you should position the use of the reprint. If you do not elect to purchase reprint rights you can consider just passing the report name in context so that the customer can access the report using their own contract rights. This has the added advantage of appearing more “objective”.
#4 – Eliminate surprises
Sales teams do not have the bandwidth to keep on top of analyst activity. It is easy for a customer or prospect to blindside them with an analyst report, either negative or positive. If the AR team can keep the sales force informed with simple alerts about both positive and negative commentary it will allow them to plan for, and address, potential customer impacts. This will especially be true with signature research where you may have had the ability to review a draft of the upcoming report.
#3 – Provide no-nonsense, hard-hitting training
Because the sales force is not (and should not be) focused on the analysts it becomes the responsibility of the AR team to provide them background information and teach them how to best use the industry analysts. Best in class programs have created sales training with appropriate materials and refresh their sales team on a regular basis. Keeping in touch with the sales executives allows you to find opportunities for continuing education. This can be as formal training or by way of short additions to sales meetings or in staff calls. Good training should be simple, relevant, and timely.
#2 – Provide rapid response
When a salesperson becomes aware that an analyst is impacting a sales cycle, AR should react quickly and effectively. By creating a response process in advance many of the potential barriers to a rapid response can be overcome. Knowing the sales organization, understanding the best methods of distribution, having alternate analyst opinions at hand, and having pre-assigned duties will eliminate the delays that could cause a sale to be lost.
And the number one way that AR can help Sales is …
#1 – Make sales support a top priority
Sales executives can rarely predict when a sales cycle will be impacted by the analysts. By demonstrating great service and responsiveness any time a sales executive calls, AR can build a strong relationship with Sales.
- Create and manage a rapid response process
- Develop “silver bullet” templates for sales
- Conduct regular training for sales
- Add working with sales to your success metrics
Question: AR Teams – How often do you meet with sales executives? Are you effectively meeting the needs of the sales team?
Are you intrigued by the idea of a strategic and practical AR-Sales Partnership program? SageCircle can help. Our strategists can:
- Assist AR and sales teams develop an effective and practical AR-Sales Partnership program
- Conduct targeted and succinct training for sales teams that provides only the critical skills and knowledge needed – not “nice to know” info that is not relevant to busy sales reps
- Act as a “life line” when on-demand advice is needed on a critical sales deal that is being negatively impacted
Leveraging our research and experience as AR managers working with sales, we have a library of content, training and services that help vendor sales teams use positive commentary or mitigate negative commentary.
To learn more contact us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309. Don’t forget that SageCircle has an AR Effectiveness Seminar on May 5 & 6 in Cupertino, CA. Details on the website at www.sagecircle.com