Sales influence before and after the chasm

Debleena Paul from SapientNitro and Vodafone’s David Taylor stressed the role of maturity in sales enablement when speaking at the Analyst Relations Forum on September 17th. Go to market strategy has a direct influence on how easily AR teams can enable sales.

Taylor, who previously contributed to Kea’s sales enablement process, stressed the global factors that need to be balanced, and that the move to sales enablement needs to be considered and timed carefully. He presented the AR Compass and the ‘Crossing the Chasm‘ varian of the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.

Before crossing the chasm, explained Taylor, analysts can play a strategic role in building buzz, connecting partners and clients, and giving market insight. After crossing the chasm, analysts can give tactical support to defend and extend vendors’ market position and directly support the sales process. The mechanisms need to be put in place to measure and track what is happening. He stressed sales education as a key part of the process if AR is to be made synonymous with sales enablement.

Debleena made a deep dive into how SapientNitro set its objectives for AR and then moved forward with sales enablement. They identified numerous pain points for sales: despite the firm’s strong customer satisfaction and organic growth, they aimed to improving the numbers of new leads and their conversion rates. That meant understanding the way that non-clients viewed the firm, for example as a digital agency rather than as a full-service firm, and developing an approach to support the goals.

Paul explained a programme of actions including quarterly webcasts for over 100 colleagues in the sales team, letting them know about how AR (and analysts) can support them through the sales cycle. That helps them to raise the awareness, and value, of AR inside the business. Success stories are central to SapientNitro, helping advocates to speak about the value of sales enablement.

The strategic level is also key: working with business group leaders, using clients as advocates to analysts, allowing analyst summits and 1:1 sessions to show insight into customer value, organising events with analysts to market to prospective clients and other thought leaders.

Paul gave some impressive examples, including one concerning a major European company that spoke to Gartner in order to accelerate its procurement process. Since Gartner had recently placed the firm in its Leader quadrant, the client then reached out to SapientNitro to sign a multi-million contract. Another example discussed the care with which analysts should be prioritised: influential analysts can be better people to spend time with than the well-informed analyst.

Inbound leads should be managed actively; it’s notable that customer success stories need to motivate analysts’ to encourage their clients to contact SapientNitro. The firm has tracked over 125 recommendations and referrals to new leads from tier one analysts. Media influence was mentioned as one way in which analysts can be visibly influencing the media. ARchitect can also be a powerful resource for tracking metrics about the amplification of the brand through the analyst channel. Win-loss analysis can also be a powerful tool to elevate the conversation about how to use AR to drive sales. The result: SapientNitro’s marketing leaders say that AR is certainly their best investment.

To find out more about sales enablement, check out the AR Forum group on LinkedIn.


Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As SageCircle research director, Chapple directs programs that assess and increase the business value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.