How to build a sales plan for your analytics application
In launching a new embedded analytics application, it’s important to ensure that your entire sales organisation is ready to support your sales effort
Preparing your sales organization to sell a new analytics application is no longer as simple as comparing your features with those of your competitors. The current economic climate is heavily focused on cost containment so sales representatives need to demonstrate how a product will solve a customer problem and add value to their business. This requires sales representatives to understand not only the product, but their buyers’ profiles - their pain points and problems.
After seeing numerous organizations build and successfully launch analytical applications, these are some of the things we’ve learnt about preparing your sales organization for a successful launch.
Ensure your entire team is ready to sell
Because analytics is a new component of your product, your sales team needs all the support you can provide. That means marketing communications, product marketing, sales management and sales training. In the same way your development team are learning how to integrate and build analytics for the first time, your sales team have to learn a new value proposition. They need to be able to articulate the solution, not just the features, and adapt their approach so it resonates with each of your buyer personas.
But it’s not just your sales representatives who need be armed, dangerous and ready to go - the entire sales effort must be ready to go to market. Your support team need to understand the ins and outs of the new product so they can support it in the marketplace.
Pre-sales, consultants and anyone else involved in the process must also be properly enabled - from those who are doing demonstrations to the team that builds out the proof of concept with potential customers. Ensure they have evaluation and demo units, scripts and everything else they need available and easily accessible.
Similarly, the sales support team also needs to understand the product and be able to showcase it to customers. Their collateral must be prepared, their ticketing system should be in place so they can be responsive to customers and the broader sales team.
As part of your planning, we always recommend you offer customers a number of support options. Have both assisted and unassisted support readily available, and all the content, FAQs and other tools that go along with that. For example, your support staff should know your BI vendor’s development cycles so they can inform your customers when patches will be available.
When it comes to collateral, more is always better. While resources may dictate otherwise, it’s important to consider what fundamental things your entire sales team needs to sell. This might include having a user guide and online wiki ready that both your customers and internal support team can leverage.
Many new organizations are resource constrained, which means they often combine skill sets - your pre-sales consultants might dabble in support for example. Leverage these common skill sets but ensure you don’t have any gaps in these key functions as you launch.
For more on how to build great embedded analytics applications, download our new 70-page ebook: A Guide To Embedding Analytics Into Your Application
Channel partners also require focus
When you’re trying to grow into new markets and haven’t got the resources, time or money to put dozens of people on the ground, channel partners can really help. From Yellowfin’s perspective, channel partners have been a big part of our story in helping us accelerate growth and achieve global coverage.
If you have a partner base, either locally or across the world, it’s important to enable them just as much as you do your own internal team. They represent your company so they need to be able to articulate your new value proposition confidently.
Don't think it's just going to take a few quick training sessions and a couple of webinars because they've sold a similar product before. Even if they are adept with analytics they might not be adept with the analytics that you're providing in your embedded solution. Like any relationships, you need to give your channel partners love and attention to build a long-term relationship.
Channel partners need to understand how to articulate your value proposition in the same way as your own sales representatives - using a solution approach rather than just talking about features. For example, a common mistake partners often make when selling a product that is embedded with our analytics is to use Yellowfin’s value proposition. What they should be doing is talking about how our analytics will help their product work better for their customers. Rather than selling the features and functions of the BI tool, they need to sell the entire solution.
Your channel team must also have access to your sales collateral, pricing and all the other information to ensure they are armed and ready to go when the product is launched. In fact, whatever you feed to your internal sales team should also be shared with your channel partners - product updates, changes in positioning, tweaks to your value proposition and collateral are all valuable.
It’s also helpful to engage with your channel partners on deals. When a channel partner comes into the Yellowfin family, we often work with them on their initial deals for the first few months. This helps them understand our product technically as well as our value proposition. They are selling your product so they need to be as trained and prepared as your direct sales force.
So how do you know when your sales channel is ready to start selling?
You will know your sales team is ready to sell if they can deliver your value proposition and you want to buy the product. There’s often a real difference between your legacy products and your new analytics solution, which is why it’s important to test them out before you send them into the field.
Getting your sales teams ready to sell is all about creating a great customer experience for your new analytics product. To ensure you give your new product the best chance of success make sure your internal and channel teams are armed with everything they need before you launch. This puts them on the front foot so they can devote their energy to showing your customers the value that you will add to their business.
This article is built on the research and content from our new 70-page ebook: A Guide To Embedding Analytics Into Your Application