One of the more common inquiries we are handling these days is on the topic of launching an AR-Sales partnership program. The AR manager is obviously intrigued by the idea but a little concerned as well. This would be true for any person confronting a potentially new challenge. In addition, other AR pundits like Forrester’s Kevin Lucas have actively advised AR programs not to support sales in a number research notes like “Industry Analyst Relations Should Focus On Achievable Objectives: Supporting Sales Is The Hardest Challenge For AR” and “Should AR Focus On Sales? It’s Not Just The Wrong Question – It’s Downright Misleading”. Wow, that does make working with Sales to be a scary proposition.
However, we know from research over the last eight years and personal experience running an AR-Sales program at one of the largest global vendors that when done right an AR-Sales partnership delivers real business value. Let’s quickly review some pros and cons:
Why consider avoiding it
- It might open the floodgates as there are many more sales reps than AR team members
- Getting Sales attention and time is difficult
- Developing a collaborative relationship takes time
- How do you find the time for a new initiative when you are already overloaded
Why consider doing it
- Provides your company with a competitive advantage
- Attacks a significant pain point for Sales – one which is often unexpressed
- Promotes AR as a critical strategic initiative because AR drives revenues
- Creates an information pipeline from customers on analyst usage and economic impact
- Develops a powerful ally with political clout and resources
- Enhances AR’s source of customer stories, which are the most powerful currency to use with the analysts
BTW Kevin, it is a hard challenge for AR, if it wasn’t everybody would have an AR-Sales program. But the ROI is so great that just to ignore the opportunity – especially in a recession – is foolhardy.
- Add an AR-Sales Partnership element to your regular AR Strategic and Tactical Plan including goals for the year
- Take a phased approach that starts modestly and expands only with experience and incremental investments from executive sponsors
- Start with a modest pilot project (SageCircle clients can request a copy of the “Simple Steps for Starting an AR-Sales Program”)
- Identify the key players inside the sales organization who do the day-to-day work when it comes to training, field communication, and sales support
- Add simple AR content to existing sales training, newsletters, or staff activities
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. However, AR must be practical and efficient by taking a phased approach and leveraging the existing sales infrastructure.
Question: What are the barriers to you launching an AR-Sales Partnership pilot?
Get Up to Speed Quickly by Eliminating the “Re-invention of the Wheel”
To help AR executives and teams decide when and how to support sales, SageCircle has a public half-day workshop focused on how to incorporate an AR-Sales Partnership Program into the AR portfolio.
Key Issues to be addressed in this workshop include:
- What are the characteristics of a great AR-Sales partnership plan that provides the necessary detail without taking too much work?
- How can AR sell the AR-Sales program to its management and Sales management?
- Should AR work with the existing sales infrastructure or develop its own capabilities?
- What is the right balance of information and tools that will make sales reps more effective without taking up too much of their time?
- What are the risks that AR should be aware of when it comes to launching an AR-Sales Partnership?
The next session of the Launching an AR Sales Partnership workshop is on Tuesday, June 16th, from 8 am to 12 pm PT in the Silicon Valley. The cost is only $495. Click here to learn more about the workshop, including the agenda, and to register.