One of the critical success factors for analyst relations is strong executive sponsorship. Many AR teams believe they have executive sponsorship when in reality they do not. In these cases, AR is misinterpreting an agreement to do the occasional briefing as executive sponsorship. AR needs to persuade executives to take an active sponsorship and oversight role instead of just giving a passive, generic endorsement.
A key step in creating strong executive sponsorship is building the executives’ understanding the impact the communications and IT industry analysts have on vendors’ enterprise sales efforts. One technique for getting your executive to the “ah ha!” moment is by letting the analysts tell the story.
The first suggestion is have your executives listen to a few minutes of Gartner’s 2008 Investor Analyst Day webcast (click or visit the Gartner Investor Relations page). Starting at the 29:07 mark, Gartner SVP of Research Peter Sondergaard is explaining the value that IT managers (aka end-user clients) get from their Gartner contracts using two examples (click on illustration to enlarge). The first is about how an analyst helped an enterprise client optimize their software costs (page 44 of the companion PDF). The second example was how a Gartner analyst helped a client decide about a potential consolidation of two ERP deployments (page 45). In both cases, executives should immediately understand that analysts can have dramatic impact on a vendor’s revenues through end-user inquiry.
The second suggestion is to download two Forrester research notes (Case Study: Lawson Software Drives Sales Through Analyst Relations and Case Study: Callidus Software Drives Sales Through Analyst Relations) because they talk about very specific sales impacts of the analysts. If you are not a Forrester client it will cost you $279 per research note to buy them, but they could be the best purchases you make. They will provide your executives with insights like these examples:
“…With two-thirds of its sales cycles affected by industry analysts, it’s vital for Lawson to know which analysts are influencing each prospect and for it to have repeatable sales support mechanisms in place to influence deal outcomes. Lawson’s AR generates new sales opportunities, as well…”
“… AR generates approximately 10% of the company’s leads, while 40% to 50% of sales cycles use analysts or their research at some point. Ultimately, Callidus attributes 10% to 15% of its revenue to AR…”
- Acquire the Forrester research notes
- Summarize the findings in each note into one PowerPoint slide
- Find an example of analyst impact on your company’s sales by chatting with members of your sales team
- Arrange for a short 15 to 30 minute meeting with each key executive
- Present the case studies findings, show the Sondergaard presentation, and talk about your sales impact example as a lead in to a discussion on the business value of active executive sponsorship of AR
Bottom Line: Unlike public relations and many other marketing functions, analyst relations can and should demonstrate its direct business value for the company. While many executives dislike the industry analysts and wish their influence would fade away, the same executives will understand the impact of the analysts and the value of active sponsorship of AR if presented with hard evidence of analyst influence on actual sales deals.
Question: AR teams – Have you built a pipeline of information from sales about analyst impact on real deals? Have you briefed you executives on sales impact using real sales deals as examples? What were the executives’ reactions?
Do you need help building your executives’ understanding about the need for active sponsorship? SageCircle can Help – SageCircle Strategists can
- Help you develop the pipeline of information from Sales
- Provide you with sample presentation slides to use
- Critique your presentation to ensure that it has maximum impact
- Participate in conversations with your executives via SageCircle Executive Briefings or Advisory Service inquiry
- Create formal case studies of examples of your company’s sales deals impacted by analysts
To learn more please visit www.sagecircle.com, send an e-mail to info [at] sagecircle dot com or call 650-274-8309.
Since 2000, SageCircle has helped analyst relations teams to focus on business value by encouraging innovative thinking that leverages insights and drives revenue.