Recently, we shared a few tips for using AR in marketing to activate thought leadership. Today, we want to focus on the relationship between AR and sales.
Sales teams tend to be less actively involved in AR, but a close relationship with sales is critical to a successful AR program and can add value to your sales team too. Salespeople have several things in common with analysts that they may not realize:
- Overlapping audiences: Like analysts, sales talks daily to potential buyers and knows their needs and expectations very well – including how they differ by industry, company size/type, etc.
- Focus on solutions: Analysts are paid to help their clients, either directly or through targeted vendor recommendations. Sales is always looking for ways to solve buyer challenges. Both analysts and sales have this shared purpose in common and can lean on each other because of it.
- Noting differentiation: Sales looks for ways to differentiate products/services from the competition. To make effective recommendations, analysts need to be able to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of vendor offerings and suggest best-fit solutions based on a specific client scenario.
AR pros and sales teams can explore these commonalities to better understand the broader view of the market and the needs of the buyer. This greater understanding can help sales in their process, as well as help AR pros manage a more strategic AR program.
How AR can help sales and vice versa
Sales is talking to prospects who are likely also talking to analysts and reading their research. When your sales team understands what analysts are saying, it gives them credibility, showing your buyer that they have a pulse on what’s happening in the market. By keeping the sales team in the know about the analyst community, the AR team can ensure they’re getting benefit from program assets.
In addition, a quick conversation with sales often yields an understanding of buyer objections and challenges that can in turn be shared with analysts to inform their research. Tap into your sales team’s knowledge and experience to beef up the value of your conversations with analysts.
Leveraging AR assets
Sales can benefit significantly from a solid understanding of the analysts, research trends, and key reports written in their space. Sales can leverage analysts and their research to:
- Gain market perspective
- Read analyst research – pending subscription access – and informal writings such as blogs to gain understanding of the market landscape and buyer needs.
- Learn about specific opportunities
- Sales can gather analyst recommendations on opportunities including partnerships, potential clients and target industries, based on specific capabilities and specializations.
- Educate prospects
- Sales can leverage analyst research (with appropriate reprint rights) to help close a deal. Research leveraged may include:
- Evaluative reports (such as Forrester Waves or Magic Quadrants) that rank the top vendors in a space based on specific capabilities of each
- Topical research to provide a perspective aligned with a product or service offering
- Thought leadership (such as a white paper written with an analyst) outlining approaches/solutions for a specific market challenge
- Inform prospect buying decisions
- When a prospect is a client of a research firm, sales can refer them to an analyst for a perspective on vendor selection, differentiated capabilities, etc.
Measuring AR success with sales
Because sales knows where deals originated and closed, establishing a mechanism for communicating analyst involvement in sales is critical to demonstrating program ROI. Think about establishing a quarterly check-in with the sales team to both share analyst and research updates and understand which deals may have been influenced by either analysts or published research. Including the sales team in regular internal AR communications, such as an AR newsletter, is also a terrific way to keep them up to speed.
While they may be less involved in the day-to-day of AR than your marketing peers, connecting with your sales team can produce a positive symbiotic relationship. Create a dialog with them to show how your assets and insights can be helpful in their process, and how their knowledge can further your analyst relationships.
We know elevating AR’s importance in your org can be a challenge, which is why we’re focusing our next webinar on overcoming AR objections. We’ll dive deeper into the relationship AR has with different business functions and how you can prepare for the inevitable skeptics.
We want to know – what tactics have you found most effective in working with your sales team to support a successful AR program?