Analyst Relations (AR) programs typically do not have sufficient resources (e.g., spokespeople bandwidth for analyst interactions, AR headcount, and budget) for the tasks at hand. Kea Company see underinvestment in AR pretty much across the board regardless of market (e.g., services, software, or hardware), geography, size, or stage of maturity.
This underinvestment by vendors that sell to large enterprises is puzzling because executives at those vendors frequently comment on the impact that the analysts have on sales deals. Kea Company strategists have personally been involved in many conversations with vendor executives where they did not just mention in passing the issue of analyst sales influence, but got very angry at a negative impact of the analysts. However, those same executives never made the connection between investing in AR and the return on investment (ROI) through top line revenue growth by mitigating negative commentary or leveraging positive commentary.
So what can AR teams do to get their companies to invest more in AR? Kea Company does not have a magic bullet for this, though we do have best practices and supporting tools. What we would like to do with this post is to solicit ideas from the AR professionals, other vendor staff, and analysts.
What do you think AR should be doing to convince their companies to invest more in influencing the analysts and supporting sales?
To get the ball rolling, here are a couple of Kea Company’s high level suggestions:
- Ask your executive sponsor what it would require to obtain additional investment – It is interesting that many AR managers have never had a conversation with their executive sponsors asking a) what would AR have to do to warrant additional investment; and b) what are credible proof points that AR will have to develop. Once those items have been articulated AR would be in a better position to build a business case that specifically addresses the executive’s requirements.
- Demonstrate economic impact by gathering data points on analyst influence on sales deals – For vendors that sell to large enterprises or large government organizations, advisory analysts typically have a significant influence at various points in the sales cycle. However, that influence does not surface for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that nobody at the vendor is actively asking prospects about their sources of advice on major purchases and AR does not have a way gathering data from sales. In this case, AR should be harvesting sales impact data whether anecdotal in nature (e.g., getting deal information when a sales colleague calls asking for help) or systematically (e.g., surveying customer about their use of the analysts).
Bottom Line: Vendors are “leaving money on the table” by not investing appropriately in AR. It would be in both the AR community’s and analysts’ best interest to collaborate on ideas and best practices for how to develop a convincing business case for investment in AR.
More questions? Let us know.
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