Presented below is some food for thought in making AR resolutions for 2006:
Stress flexibility and agility of our company’s execution over dominating power. Even for Microsoft this is more critical than ever. Strengths at flexibility and agility as evidenced by user references across targeted vertical markets and your software’s ability to fit into how your customers do business makes you relevant to analysts.
Consider going for greater depth of coverage with fewer firms. Trying to be all things to all analysts is going to be tougher than ever in 2006; it’s better to be the most relevant vendor in your market with the analysts that really count.
Revise how you measure analysts to include planning and strategy impact. Measure mentions and trend the data over time to see if your strategies of working with key analysts are delivering results, and focus on how many recommendations analysts make to your senior executives that delivered results. If you have key analysts you work with and they are not partnering with senior management on planning and strategy, make that happen in 2006. Also consider having analysts in for competitive briefing sessions with Sales.
Initiate your own Voice of the Customer programs this year. Get in touch with your customer base and give them a seat at the development table, bring them into the new product development process, survey them to see what they like most and least about doing business with you. Look seriously at how to bring a steady stream of research data from your own customer base. Apart from aligning your own product strategies with your customers, this effort from an AR perspective is very valuable. Serve up summaries of Voice of the Customer programs done well, and you will gain respect.
Your customers make you relevant. 100% referencability in your customer base, if you’re a smaller company, is a great goal. Get a customer reference program in place if you don’t have it already and if your customers balk and say it’s too proprietary at least capture the performance gains they are getting and present those under NDA.
Just one final prediction, the Beer Quadrant first mentioned in this CRM Buyer column will reach 2,000 downloads in 2006. As of today it has been downloaded 1,032 times, which goes to show that many in the AR community enjoy a good laugh now and then and must love beer too. Cheers everyone and Happy New Year!