AR–Sales Partnership [part 4]: Take baby steps by rolling out a small pilot phase

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAR 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 […]

AR-Sales Partnership [part 3]: Creating the plan

icon-dollar-euro.jpgWorking with Sales to leverage the analysts’ position in the marketplace to drive sales takes both processes and time. Therefore AR departments should generate a plan that looks at both the long term issues and day-to-day activities. The plan should clearly define goals and outline the programs and execution steps that will be taken to achieve those goals.

The AR-Sales Partnership Program plan will likely be four to 25 pages long. The amount of work required to create it will vary depending on how complex your AR and Sales situations are, what goals are to be achieved by AR-Sales Partnership, the expectations of your executives for this type of planning document, and the impact the IT analysts have on your market.

Your mileage may vary. As with all SageCircle templates and outlines, it is important to apply this […]

AR-Sales Partnership [part 2]: Building the bridge to Sales

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThe first order of business for an analyst relations (AR) team launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program is to sell Sales on the idea. Without buy-in from sales management, AR will not be able to execute a successful partnership and merely waste time. Getting Sales management buy-in will not assure success, but it will certainly provide AR with the required backing needed to get started and overcome certain hurdles.

The first person to approach is to a certain extent determined by the size of your company. If you work for a large tech vendor the person you approach will not be the head of Global Sales. This individual is always under pressure to produce the numbers and often has the CEO, CFO, COO and others breathing down his or her neck. The head of Global Sales is so manically focused on execution that they will not be receptive to a discussion about innovative techniques with somebody they and their direct reports do not know. In addition, the head of sales for a large vendor will have been out of the field so long that they might have forgotten what it was like having a deal squashed by industry analyst commentary. Tech companies that are smaller do open up the opportunity to go directly to the top, but even in this situation we recommend that AR seek out a different individual.

What AR needs is a savvy sales rep or local sales manager who can coach the AR team on […]

Why technology buyers use the IT industry analysts

Sometimes IT and telecommunications vendors express frustration at the very existence of IT advisory analysts and their influence with the technology buyers (aka end users or IT managers). Often the vendors accuse the IT buyers of being lazy or stupid because they use the analysts instead of doing the research themselves. Bloggers are equally amazed at why end users would spend money on analyst contracts when there is so much information available for free on the Internet.

The reality is that the advisory analysts provide valuable services to technology buyers and have earned the trust of those buyers over the years. When they don’t understand the true reasons why the advisory analysts are widely used, vendor executives will miss opportunities to invest in analyst relations efforts.  This is also true for the sales force who need to understand the motivations for using the analysts,  Training is critical for preparing sales reps to handle lucrative deals that are impacted by IT analysts.

There are a number of reasons why IT advisory analysts exist and […]

Top Five Ways Analyst Relations can Help Sales [Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThe 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 […]

Using the analysts to educate IT buyers beyond praising your products [Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgMore often than not, communications or IT vendor sales reps never think about using a tech industry analyst to advance a sales deal. On those infrequent occasions when a sales rep does thinks about leveraging analyst commentary, it is almost always in the context of e-mailing an analyst research note that says wonderful things about the product the rep is selling. This is very much like restaurant owners who tape positive newspaper reviews to their windows. However, a product centric approach misses the chance to use the analysts to educate IT managers about a broad range of issues that can generate future sales opportunities.

Often tech buyers get stuck on what direction to go in for a particular situation, which frequently leads to the buyer doing nothing. Sometimes it is a case of “analysis paralysis” about a strategy or tactic. In other cases, the buyer cannot convince management to […]

Training the sales reps: keep it simple, short, small words [Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOK, that title was not fair to the sales team, but it makes a good point about how to do training.  Often AR teams try to teach sales so much about analysts that they overwhelm them and miss the real point.

The sales team needs basic information about who the analysts really are, which ones you believe influence your revenues, and how to deal with both positive and negative commentary.  They should also understand how to feed information back to the AR team.  They don’t need extensive information, but material that is brief, understandable, and relevant.  Establishing a communications channel with sales is more important than […]