AR teams can impact company revenues directly through assisting sales representatives, either to overcome negative – or leverage positive – analyst commentary and research to close deals. However, AR managers often shy away from supporting Sales because they fear it will ‘open the floodgates’ to hundreds or thousands of requests. To prevent this deluge, AR can take a phased approach, rolling out a pilot project as the first step.
AR can gather needed expertise and information working with a pilot group of sales representatives (10-20), either as part of a larger AR-Sales Partnership initiative (if has Sales leadership support) or as a skunkworks project (to build the business case for AR Sales support).
Operational Objectives of a Pilot Sales Support Program
AR team members can leverage the skills and processes they use to assist analysts with information requests as a way to support Sales. To effectively translate these skills, AR must take into account the following operational objectives:
- Learn what Sales needs
- Systematically collect data on sales deals impacted by analysts
- Create a proof of concept
- Develop credibility with sales leadership
- Test support processes and services
- Gather sales representatives’ testimonials for later use in edu-marketing campaigns for broader sales support rollouts
Pilot Group Selection
Choosing the right pilot group is critical for your pilot project success. First AR should identify sales representatives with deals impacted heavily by analysts on a regular basis-e.g. direct sales teams that sell to corporations with $800m+ in revenues. Secondly, the selected sales representatives should be easy to work with-e.g. not present obstacles such as geography or time zone. Ideally, the pilot group would do its own lead management but this is not as critical as the first two selection criteria. Some pilot group examples might include:
- A collection of individual sales reps
- Personal relationship with a sales manager and their team
- A small, self-contained sales team
Bottom Line: AR must approach the pilot group with the same care and attention to detail it approaches an Analyst Summit. If the pilot is executed effectively, AR can rapidly gain credibility with sales executives and representatives. If executed poorly, AR may lose an important opportunity to prove its value. Once the pilot program is implemented, AR needs to drive participation until pilot participants get into the habit of using AR’s support services.
Question: Can you identify a potential group of sales rep that could participate in a pilot program?
This post is part of a series about building the AR-Sales Partnership Program. In addition to this series, there are a number of posts with tips and tricks about preparing Sales for dealing with analyst influence on deals.
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 1]: It’s not about pushing out reports
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 2]: Building the bridge to Sales
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 3]: Creating the plan
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 4]: Rolling out a pilot program for a small group
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 5]: Edu-marketing to executives and sales reps
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 6]: Action items to launch a project
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
SageCircle’s AR-Sales Partnership Plan Builder workshop is designed to help AR develop a detailed plan based on best practices quickly and eliminate wasted effort associated with the “reinvention of the wheel.” The workshop is a structure engagement complete with tools that help AR hit the ground running. 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.
Since 2000, SageCircle has helped analyst relations teams to focus on business value by encouraging innovative thinking that leverages insights and drives revenue.