Analyst Relations is a quite stressing job as AR professionals sit between external and internal constituencies and try to make both happy. What AR managers don't need is more aggravation when they want to work with analyst firms, but it seems that it's exactly what's happening: analyst firms in general do a terrible job at selling themselves to vendors. One of the reasons is that analyst firms sales reps try to SELL when often analysts often feel their ethical boundaries are being pushed. We imagine the conversations inside some firms between sales and analysts sales going like: "Would you be nice to my client so that they can buy reprints?" followed by "Do you mean I should tell something I don't believe in?"
We'll leave them to decide where they want to draw the line, for instance and to their credit, the Borg don't sell white papers (but do read Post-scriptum on "Yankee, analyst impartiality and circular references" for the caveats).
However, we thought analyst reps could do with a few ARmadgeddon tips to improve their sales process. Most of them are very basic but we've seen those mistakes many times.
So, hear, hear, sales reps:
- Sales lead: track those those converations your analysts are having with vendors, invite yourself to brefings. Too often, reps have little idea of research agendas and of vendor marketing plans.
- Qualified prospect: follow-up with your AR person to see if there's a real need.
- Need identification: for complex projects, do schedule a conversation between the analyst, AR, the vendor's decision maker(s) and don't forget to include the consultants who'll end up doing the work. For speaking enagement, come back with topic and spokesperson real quick.
- Proposal (business): it's amazing how long it takes for IT Analysis fims to send vendors a proposal. Get it out, even if it's sketchy or you'll loose the sale. If it's a speaking engagement, you need to turn around in hours, not in weeks! An email will do, but please do us a favour: make sure you include VAT number, physical address, firm name and delivery dates…
- Closing: again a basic skill but it seems that some analyst firms can't be asked to call to close a sale! Amazing…
- Deal transaction: we've seen so many firms being rubbish at admin. Send the invoice and get paid!
Another common mistake is not fitting into vendors budget processes. If a vendor closes its fiscal in March, make sure you get in their FY+1 plans in before February!
Finally, don't make the common but fatal mistake of not involving AR: they can and will block your proposal if they feel it's not addressing a need or simply if you bypass them. Help them and they'll help you.