I’ve worked at different software companies, worked with hundreds of sales reps, and I can tell you, reps are all the same. Well, that’s an exaggeration. They are individuals with their own hopes, dreams and abilities. (But, they’re all the same).
The typical sales rep is smart, busy, highly personable...and has ADD. Their experience with analyst relations is limited, only seeing it as far as the Gartner MQ helps them win. And if the analyst says anything negative to a customer, they hear about it… which means you hear about it.
Your sales team can be one of your best partners and allies if you know how to work with them. Here’s what I’ve learned:
The degree to which sales reps are open to working with you depends on how much “help” they get. In many companies this help comes in the form of ridiculous demands so they have their guard up when somebody comes from the ivory tower (headquarters). Be aware and step carefully.
Tell them how you can help identify, influence, and advance deals. That will get their attention. They don’t care about what’s important to you.
Assuming your target customers are large and somewhat risk averse, Gartner and Forrester have enormous influence. These targets tend to have subscriptions and look for validation. If so, it’s rather easy to suggest research or encourage them to have an inquiry call.
Sales reps can help you. They are the eyes and ears on the ground and can give you that hard-to-get insight into who is influencing deals and what they think.
Every scenario is different and there is no cookie cutter way to leverage an analyst. I’ve found it most effective to start with “must win” opportunities and select those where analysts can have the most impact. Pick aggressive and open-minded reps. Strategize a plan for each customer and set the rep off to execute. Get good results and shout them out to the rest of the sales team.
Now the ADD part. Sales reps will love the possibilities. They will be excited, eager...and promptly forget all about you. It’s not their fault, they have a demanding job. If you want to show hard, tangible, $ value from AR, you need to be a friendly and persistent pain in the neck. Check in with them weekly and get status on every opportunity.
There are a million more details involved in getting all this to work, but success pays off and begets more success. Not only do you help drive revenue, but you have more insight into what analysts really think. That is powerful stuff.
What tips do you have about working with sales?