A few years ago, I transitioned from an AR Practitioner to an Analyst & Advisor Practitioner and have met a few others like me. I have also met Analyst Relations professionals who have been thinking about transitioning to Sourcing Advisor Relations (SAR). To discuss the SAR role in more detail, Ed Gyurko (LinkedIn, @edgyurko) and I created the IIAR SAR Workgroup. I hosted a roundtable webinar and this blog is a summation of that webinar.
A new breed of (Sourcing Advisor Relations) SAR is emerging, whose job resembles that of a solutions broker. To succeed, a new skill-set is needed. For analyst relations professionals, the gap is widening and it’s becoming harder simply to move over into Advisor Relations.
As we’ve heard from many sources, the big deal is dead. Buyers have been buying for some time and have become mature, relying less on advisors to assist them with the “big deals”.
What does the new deal look like? For most organizations, the new deal has components of digital transformation, automation and /or RPA. To truly be successful at a deal with these new types of services, clients, providers and advisors will need to collaborate much more and co-create deals together.
What are the skills needed by SARs to co-create deals? How are the SAR and the AR roles the same and how are they different?
To answer those questions, Paul Reynolds, Chief Research Officer of ISG (LinkedIn, @PaulLReynolds) and I gathered last December a panel of eminent Sourcing Advisor Professionals: for a roundtable webinar:
- Joe Hogan / VP and Head of Global Advisory and Analyst Relations, HCL (LinkedIn, @Irishczech)
- Maureen Barry / Head of Advisor Relations, IBM (LinkedIn, @BarryMH)
- Mark Noller / Senior Global Sourcing Manager, Infosys (LinkedIn)
The panel kicked off with Paul Reynolds from ISG sharing a few highlights from his recent survey of (SAR) Professionals
How are teams organized:
- Providers either have analyst relations integrated with their advisor relations functions or separate
- 40% of providers have an integrated team, either because their budgets are limited, or because they want to ensure they have a consistent message externally
- 60% have separate groups, mainly because there are different expectations from the 2 functions and there are, therefore, different skillsets required to achieve those objectives
How are teams growing:
- SAR teams have been growing across the board. Team sizes have doubled or tripled since 2013.
- The smallest team have on average 3 FTEs with the largest teams having 10 on average.
- Advisor Relations teams are expected to grow on average 2 FTEs per team for those that are planning to grow.
- Paul also discussed the typical metrics (from the ISG SAR Survey) for the Advisor Relations Role:
- # of deals that come through the channel
- the $ value of those deals.
- the % of the deals won
- the $ value of those wins.
These measurements tend to be quite different from Analyst Relations, where some metrics include:
- # of mentions
- Tone of mentions
- Movement in the magic quadrant
- # of briefings
The panelists agreed that the SAR Professional of the future, will be more of a solutions broker. He/She will need to facilitate both external parties such as platform vendors, software vendors, strategic consulting firms such as Deloitte, KPMG, EY, PWC, etc, traditional sourcing advisory firms such as ISG, Avasant, WGroup, etc as well as their internal functions such as sales, alliances, legal, etc to create the new “mega-deal” of the future. The new deal will be collaborative in nature, with industry and line of business expertise.
Since the new deals will be more about collaboration, the metrics for the SAR need to take into consideration the collaborative efforts that these professionals create.
Our panelists reported into either sales or marketing, though it was strongly noted, that regardless of where the function reports into, there needs to be sponsorship from the head of the business to ensure top down participation and support.
The key similarities between an analyst relations professional and a sourcing advisor relations professional is the nature of collaboration. Both functions must collaborate with both internal and external stakeholders to be successful in their job. Where AR and SAR differ is on the sales side. SARs need to have a strong sales or business development skill set. Also going forward, as the deals become more complex, the SARs will need to have more technical know-how to become the deal orchestrator or the solutions broker.
The SAR role may be a good fit for an AR professional looking to make a move and expand their skill sets. The SAR is an influencer, must have great relationship, collaboration and sales skills to be successful. The AR role will also be a very critical role as newer technologies are introduced.
If you’re in analyst relations and looking for a career move, I would recommend you think about your metrics vs the SAR, as well as some of the differences in skill sets to determine if you think this is the right fit for your situation.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want to hear more about the SAR role, please join, my co-Chair for the Sourcing Advisor Relationship work group, Ed Gyurko, on Feb 1 to learn about the State of Advisor Relations in Europe. Or if you would like to get involved with the SAR workgroup, as a speaker, suggest a topic, write a whitepaper, etc, please send a note to Ed and I using the form below.