Picking up on Marc’s recent post, one of the most common complaints I hear from AR people is about the behaviour of sales people from the industry analyst firms.
It goes something like this: “The account managers come in to visit people and start selling their research to people who have no budget. Then I’m the one who has to find the budget or -more likely – tell them that they can’t have what they want. I want the account managers only to talk to me!”But wait a second. It’s the job of the account manager to sell more –and they’re not going to be all that fussy about how they reach their target. After all, it’s their job on the line if they fail.
So I suggest that you don’t get angry about this but instead get practical. Start by remembering these three things:
- you’re not alone
- you’ll never totally succeed, and
- even if you do manage to house-train an account manager, they’ll probably be sacked at some point for not making quota.
Sticking with the advice, here’s the most effective lesson I learned on this subject:
Do everything you can to make sure that only you have the authority to talk to the account managers. Make sure everyone in your company knows this.
Every time an account manager tries to talk to someone else in the company, you want the account manager to hear those immortal words: “You need to talk to AR first.”
Having total budget control is the ideal – but account managers aren’t just trying to sell research. They are also interested in selling in non-research based projects (white papers, consulting projects, webinars etc). While you may get control over research expenditure, it’s very unlikely you will get responsibility for those other budgets.
However, some vendors have managed to get a clause in the master agreement with an analyst firm that stipulates an agreed price for each common deliverable (like strategy days, reprints/posting rights, etc).
Some have also stipulated in the contract that the commercial relationship must always involve AR – with a penalty for failing to observe the latter rule!
You could also try to become the last ‘approver’ in the purchase order process. It then becomes easier to identify repeat offenders among the account managers. You can then take appropriate steps to sort out the problem (what those steps are depends – for instance, one major vendor threatens to re-route work to a central budget so the account manager cannot claim it against their target).
The bottom line is simple.
If the account manager knows that you control the only pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’ll be a lot less keen to talk to other people in the company.