Like many Forresterites, I love to run. I’m a novice to the sport, having only taken my training seriously in the past year. This time frame coincides with my time since joining Forrester; as I have gained increasing experience in both fields and prepared for events in both forums, I’ve found undeniable similarities between running and the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) practice. Kicking off a TEI or training for a race can seem a daunting task initially, with many steps along the way to achieve the finished product. By creating a timeline for your project, however, with several benchmarks to measure productivity, achieving what you set out to accomplish will seem more realistic with each successive milestone.
Set Realistic Expectations
From the outset of race training, expectation setting is key. When I began training for my half-marathon three months out, I told my running partner that I wanted to follow my A, B, and C goals in the order in which I hoped to achieve them. My primary goal was to beat my PR, my second goal to match my PR, and if all else failed, then my ultimate goal was simply to finish the race.
A TEI requires similar expectation setting and milestone measurements. Are you purchasing a TEI to help with brand awareness and credibility? Do you have a content marketing campaign that you want the TEI to support? Are you using it as a sales enablement asset? Just so you know, we found in The Value Of Building An Economic Business Case With Forrester that businesses that invest in a TEI study generate 60% more leads in the first six months.
To achieve these milestones, it’s necessary to pace the project as one does with race training: alternating between long runs, speed workouts, and rest days. Having alignment on what the expectations are for the study is key. At some points during a TEI, there are extended periods of feedback and discussion, and at others, the pace will move along quite briskly. And of course, as with any piece of writing, stepping away for a day or two, as with a rest day, can help illuminate some features that can be improved. Here are some ways to make sure that your expectations are clear and achievable.
Do you have a content marketing campaign set for three months out that’s centered around the TEI? Tell the consultants working on your project. Want to use the TEI as an asset for sales in the next quarter? Tell the consultants working on your project. Need a teaser for an upcoming conference? Tell the consultants working on your project. Even if you’re not in a rush to see the TEI published, that’s important to tell your consultants, too! Both sides should be in constant communication so that neither is blindsided. In a process that lasts several months, the fewer unexpected events, the better. You can think of your consultants like your running partner: They want to be there every step of the way with you, and when you’re on the same page, you can cross the finish line together.
The importance of an open line of communication applies to both your communication with your consultants as well as your outreach to customers. Sam Sexton shared a great blog post last year with some key advice: Begin sourcing customer interviewees as early as possible. Whether you’ve just kicked off a project or you’re scheduled to kick one off in a few months, it’s always a good idea to be thinking about potential customers who could provide good interviews about your solution.
Understand That Setbacks Happen
It’s important to remember that there are often bumps in the road — and that’s OK! There have been times in training when something came up, and I just couldn’t do my run that day. There have been other days when my planned run turned into a walk and others when my running partner helped me get through it. After the initial wave of guilt, and perhaps embarrassment, I moved on to the next day.
When plans go awry, there are fail-safes built into the TEI process.
- Looking into a survey can be a great option when a project stalls. Like running with a friend, adding a survey to your TEI can provide robust data to supplement the testimonials that you have already received from customers and may even provide you with unexpected insights about your product (or, in my case, my stride.)
- Consultants can also help you source customers for the study. If you are having difficulty finding customers to speak with the TEI team, Forrester can reach out to a customer base on your behalf.
- When you’re approaching a TEI, it can be easy to hone your sights on your Forrester Wave™ analyst, but remember that Forrester has an abundance of analysts who you can approach with advice for planning. A huge benefit of being a Forrester client is having access to all our analysts, who have expertise in security, strategy, and sales enablement and would be happy to provide a 30-minute inquiry to spur activity.
In a TEI, if something is holding up the project — whether it’s difficulty sourcing customers, difficulty in providing expedient feedback, or something else altogether — don’t wallow in the embarrassment; instead, talk with your Forrester consultants and explain what’s going on. A big part of that communication is honesty; if you’re dissatisfied with the results, let your TEI consultants know so that you can come to a resolution. But while you’re preparing to share your feedback with your consultants, try to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard in the process and consolidate feedback on any asset or deliverable. Often, the less back-and-forth that occurs during the process, the smoother and more cohesive the final product is. Above all, the TEI process is meant to be collaborative and honest so that clients can present an objective, third-party study that they’re proud of.
Ultimately, both in training and in producing a TEI study, keeping things moving is the most important part. Fortunately, Forrester has your back to keep you putting one foot in front of the other throughout the entirety of the TEI process. With a strong and open line of communication, your Forrester consultants will help you ensure that you cross the finish line with confidence that you can share your product with your company and customers.