There was a great turn out at the two February Coffee Talks on the topic of AR and Sales partnering to drive revenues. The best part of the Coffee Talks is when AR managers share their experiences and ask questions. Here are some of the comments from the past two Coffee Talks.
Comment: Dana Stiffler (AMR analyst, Twitter handle) tracks the value of the deals she is influencing…
SageCircle: Not many analysts are savvy enough to formally track that kind of information like Dana. However, most analysts can give you a top-of-mind feel for the number of deals they are advising technology buyers on in a typical week or month and a rough average of size per deal. Not scientific, but this info can provide useful anecdotal points for AR teams to use with their executive sponsors.
Comment: I had a panel at a sales kickoff where sales folks told their success stories of working with analysts and AR… it was the best way to instantly gain credibility.
SageCircle: Sales reps want to know what techniques work so this type of “customer panel” is incredibility effective. To make it even more effective, AR can follow with tips-and-tricks and lessons learned from these sales reps to be posted on the internal sales portal/blog, included in regular sales newsletters, and during regular sales team conference calls. Repetition is a critical success factor to making sure that the training about the analyst impact on sales deals sticks.
Comment: Most good sales people understand the value of relationships and once you’ve helped them, they “pay you back” by keeping you informed… when they remember. Best thing is to keep a tickler file and check back with them regularly for a status.
SageCircle: One of the common questions we get when talking about AR-Sales Partnerships is whether the sale reps will give anything back or share credit with AR. The answer is absolutely because smart sales reps will want your help in the future. They are willing to give a little today, especially if it is something easy like information about a deal. Plus, giving credit to AR does not cost them any money because a “pat on the back” does not get deducted from their bonuses or quotas. However, sales reps are incredibility busy so making it easy for them to give AR information and those pats on the back is a key to making it happen.
Carter was once a guest speaker at a vendor’s annual sales kickoff meeting where he witnesses something incredible. Our AR client had instituted an effective AR-Sales Partnership over a year earlier so he and his efforts were well known to the sales force. When our client swaggered on stage – this was a sales kickoff after all – to introduce the guest speaker, he received a thunderous standing ovation. That was a jaw-dropping example of sales reps “paying back” AR for the help of mitigating negative analyst commentary and leveraging positive analyst research.
Remember that SageCircle Coffee Talks are Free. You can easily register for the upcoming ones by visiting our web site at www.sagecircle,com
Comment: Dave – several years ago Carter provided a memo pad to track output of analyst involvement in sales deals. That was a great idea!
SageCircle: That was a simple little tool we put together during the SageCircle “One Dot Oh” days. It was an 8.5 x 3.75 pad of forms that was designed to be kept next to the phone. That way AR managers would be reminded to get basic information about a deal when a sales rep called up asking for help. Then these slips would be an easy addition to the “tickler file” mentioned in the previous comment. Drop us an email if you would like a copy of the template (designed three-across on 8.5 x 11 paper) so you can print out some for your use.
Comment: In many cases, the sales rep may not know that an analyst is being used by a potential customer.
SageCircle: Alas, this is too often true… and unnecessary. It is very easy to ask prospects and customers about their use of the analysts when making purchasing decisions. IT managers are not embarrassed to say they are using the analysts and will actually use analysts as a stick during negotiations. AR should work with the sales training department to educate sales reps on the value of asking prospects about their use of the analysts and the very, very, very easy technique for getting this information.
- AR programs should read SageCircle’s six-part series on the AR-Sales partnership concept starting with AR-Sales Partnership [part 1]: It’s not about pushing out reports
- AR programs should set up a low-key pilot AR-Sales project to start gathering sales impact data and demonstrating how they can help Sales close business
- AR programs then need to develop a reporting program that communicates to executive sponsors and stakeholders the economic impact of AR, thus demonstrating hard ROI
Bottom Line: During any time, but especially during a recession, AR needs to focus on the activities that matter to executive sponsors. Launching a low-key AR-Sales partnership pilot is a critical success factor for illustrating how AR is not a cost center, but a revenue-generating, strategic activity.
Question: Do you have any examples of how you’ve helped your sales colleagues close business? What are the barriers to you launching an AR-Sales Partnership pilot?
SageCircle has a full portfolio of intellectual property on the AR-Sales Partnership program: best practices (how to’s), training for AR & Sales & executives (live in-person, live distance and recorded), plan builder workshops, advisory and tools (eliminates re-invention of the wheel). Click here for more information or call us at 503-636-1500 to learn how SageCircle can help you launch an AR-Partnership program quickly and efficiently.