Recently, we’ve shared tips for making mutually beneficial connections between AR and marketing and AR and sales. This week we’ll discuss how the product team is a key driver in creating successful AR outcomes at the highest level, informing buying decisions and ultimately driving bottom-line growth.
AR and product – a win-win relationship
Product teams (and, in the services world, practice teams) are an integral part of any analyst relations program. After all, analysts certainly need to understand your go-to-market approach, your differentiated offering, and the value you create for customers. But if they don’t have a deep understanding of your product/service offering, they’re less able to make specific recommendations that can move your business forward – and they’re less likely to recommend you to buyers.
From analysts’ perspectives, deeply understanding vendor products and services is a top priority. Analysts want and need to know the truth about your offering – beyond colorful marketing language – about the in-market capabilities that are being used by the majority of your customers. Analysts need this knowledge to recommend vendors to their clients, which they do through client inquiry sessions, formal vendor selection advisory, and in informal settings such as events or other client engagements.
Analysts also need to deeply understand products and/or services in order to appropriately position vendors in research, including:
- Topical research that requires a perspective on available solutions to market/industry challenges
- Catalog reports that list all the vendors in a particular space, sometimes with a high-level feature comparison
- Evaluative research that offers a deeper look into specific capabilities and key use cases across a subset of top vendors in a space
By participating in analyst briefings, providing product information in analyst surveys, and conducting product demonstrations, the product team can provide significant value to your company’s AR efforts.
How AR can help product teams
Luckily, product teams can often get as much value from sharing their wares with analysts, as analysts get from improving their own understanding. Because analysts talk with customers constantly, they have a pulse on their needs, wants, frustrations and challenges. This insight can be invaluable to inform vendor product ideation and updates. Benefits analysts provide to product teams include:
- Understanding of buyer needs and expectations (geographically, industry-specific or role-specific, for example)
- Feedback on specific features in comparison to competitive offerings
- Ideas for partnerships, feature extensions and new capabilities
- Suggestions for usability improvements
- Road map feedback and feature prioritization
Measuring AR success with product
Product teams don’t often have extra bandwidth, and they’re occasionally skeptical of analysts’ abilities to add value. However, there are plenty of ways to gauge whether your team’s investment of time with analysts is paying off, including:
- New partnerships gained based on analyst recommendations
- Product improvements and/or new features implemented based on analyst feedback
- Number or type of updates made to the product road map as a result of analyst input
- Improved positioning in evaluative research relative to competitive offerings
It’s essential for a good AR program to have product team’s involvement. Integrating them into analyst interactions lays the foundation for mutually-beneficial analyst relationships – product can learn and be influenced by the analysts, and analysts can learn and be influenced by product.
But, achieving this relationship is only possible if your product team understands the value AR can bring to them and the insight they can offer in return. If you encounter objections or obstacles to AR, check out our webinar Overcoming AR Objections to learn strategies for reframing the channel.
How do you your product teams help with your AR program? Let us know in the comments below.