Sales enablement: Dave Eckert on winning sponsors and success

In the third part of Duncan Chapple’s interview, Dave Eckert explains winning sponsors and creating sales enablement success. Earlier installments are on getting started and on providing value to sales.

After getting sales enablement basics in place, we want to win some sponsorship. The first thing we need to do is to find somebody in sales who can really help us out.

What we’re looking for is someone who can educate you on how the sales team works. You can plant some seeds that talk about how you could potentially help the team with various kinds of AR resources. This is a key function.

This sponsor is typically going to be at the upper level. This person is going to be a sales manager, maybe a division manager; something like that. We got to try to find somebody in there. We want to provide at least some basic information so that they look at this and say: yeah, okay if you started to work with us, we see the value: we’re not going to reject to what you’re doing.

Who to approach?

How do I know who to approach in the sales organization to start this relationship? Here’s a here’s a place to start: is there some salesperson who has come to you, maybe on a regular basis, that you’ve previously worked with?

They don’t have to be a manager. In fact. they’re probably not a manager. They’re probably some salesperson in the trenches, but you’ve got somebody who’s perhaps come to you now. Ask them how to go about finding the best sponsor. Maybe it’s his manager? He can come and say:  “I’ve got some really good relationships with analyst relations. They’re going to try something. Can I have you talk to them a little bit about it?”

So this is a place you want to kind of insert yourself very carefully into the system. See what you know. Ask yourself what can I find in terms of getting a sponsor?

Coaches and war stories

Now, let’s look at another approach. Let’s call it a coach. Now that coach might be that same salesperson that you’ve been talking about, but not necessarily. What do we need in a coach?

  • A coach has to be somebody who can tell us about impacts that the analysts have had on deals. We call those the War Stories; some positive, more likely negative. You’re very rarely going to get somebody coming and saying: “oh that analyst was so helpful”. Most frequently it’s “the analyst just caused all my problems”. So you’re going to have to watch and try to get a balance.
  • That coach also can provide you with an insight into how sales works; how the organization is set up; what is the culture; where you are likely to get success and where you’re likely to run into barriers.
  • And that coach can provide you guidance. Who’s the upper-level management who will be able to support them? How would you go about going to that manager, or executive, to get that level of support?

That coach might be a sales rep who you’ve been working with. Maybe it’s somebody in the same building? That’s always very helpful. If you get somebody where you can have face-to-face contact, maybe it’s a major account director? Obviously the major accounts are more frequently influenced by the analyst than the one-offs. So, find that coach that you’ve got out there.

Show sales the money

Now, we want to focus on the value and the focus on the value has to be what is it that’s in it for sales. Their key thing is ultimately sales. That is  what they care about. They don’t care about analyst. They care about sales. So what you want to do is to really focus on the things that can make them sales.

You want to highlight the positives; where they can close business more rapidly. Now, that’s key: not just simply close the business, but close  business more rapidly. So if you can find those kinds of things, and highlight and push those, that’s going to give you a lot of credibility. Likewise where you have negative influence, providing them with content that will counterbalance. That is a really key thing.

So ultimately what sales is looking for is big commissions without doing a lot of work. If there’s anything you can do to help them in that kind of situation, then that’s going to be something that really improves this whole potential of working.

Plan to show analyst value

How can you convince sales of the value of an effective relationship? If you’re in the money, that’s that’s the only thing that’s going to convince them. Convincing them that you can do something that provides them bigger commissions, with less work, is the way you want to approach.

How you actually make this happen? Well, the approach that we suggest is first of all, you need to create a plan.

This plan is should be something that you’re going to build first internally. Then, with your coach, you want to sit down and find what’s realistic. Parts of the plan are:

  • Where am I going to find my resources, both within AR and within sales?
  • How am I going to get rid of some of those things that are not productive, so that I have the time available?
  • What is my phased deployment schedule?
  • Who am I going to go to first?
  • What process do I go through?
  • What is the pilot plan?
  • What is the roll out?

 The most important and critical item is you have to leverage the existing sales infrastructure. That means you need to go find out about it

  • How do they work?
  •  What what are their meetings?
  • What are their various plans?
  • How do they communicate?
  • What kind of communications go out on a regular basis?
  • What kind of portal is available to them?
  • And is it in any way selective –  is can I do something that would be for only one team, one division, one geography, or something to make a real pilot out of this?

If you try to do something that is across the entire level then we’re going to run into a real real problem. So that’s kind of the direction.

Critical factors and goals

What factors are critical for an effective relationship? I think that the really critical factor is coming up with AR time and resource. If you don’t have the time and the resource, this is never going to work.

I would also say coming up with a coach is probably a critical factor. Those two items, to put together the plan, I think are key.

What kinds of goals should I set? What are SMART goals and how to set SMART goals? What kind of revenue or the number of deals impacted? The first goal has to be satisfaction, not necessarily revenue. It’s got to be satisfaction on the part of the sales team. If the sales team is happy with how the process is working, then you will begin to win the other goals that you could set a revenue or the number of deals impact and so.

Remember as you begin to put your plan together, you’re going to want to add some metrics into this plan. You have to measure this to be certain that what you’re doing is making sense. The metrics that you want to put into place will ultimately be:

  • – how much revenue am I impacting?
  • –  how many sales am I impacting?
  • – Number of deals?

Those kinds of metrics will come out but not necessarily during the pilot.

Just get the pilot working

We want to determine what metrics are available and how you’re going to be able to set them up. So the goal for your pilot ought to be to just get this thing working a little bit and kind of understand what needs to happen to expand. My experience in the past has been those companies that actually get into this, and begin to do this well, suddenly find a very strong support on the part of sales and ultimately have been able to increase their AR resources. As they get out of the pilot stage, and begin to move into what we might call production stage, they find that they really do need more resources. And then we’ll wind up getting those resources because they’re demonstrating value.

And so demonstrating value is a really important part of this process. That’s again another one of those critical factors. When you come up with these goals, and come up with a kind of a process, that will help you establish how you’re going to proceed as you move on to the next step.

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.