Why do analyst consulting days? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpg As was briefly mentioned in Strengths and weaknesses of analyst research delivery types, analyst consulting days (aka SAS or strategic advisory service in Gartnerese) have a high risk/reward profile for vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. After that post, we received a question from an AR practitioner asking why AR would want to spend the money on an analyst consulting day.

It is important to remember that building strong analyst relationships requires a mix of interaction types.  You cannot achieve your objectives using only briefings and inquiry. Consulting days can have significant benefits when done correctly.  Because there are different reasons for purchasing analyst consulting days from the firms, vendors need to clarify the goals they want to pursue through buying consulting days. The shotgun approach of “we’ll just throw some more money at them by buying consulting time” rarely succeeds in genuinely increasing an analyst’s positive perception of a vendor.

The various reasons why vendors choose to do consulting days vary in real value:

  • To build stronger relationships with key analysts
          – Rating: high value
  • To do a Deep Dive-style uninterrupted briefing
          – Rating: none to high value
  • To have a high profile marketing event speaker
          – Rating: medium to high value
  • To review strategy and product direction
          – Rating: none to high value
  • To strengthen AR’s position with the product groups
          – Rating: medium to high value
  • To gather market and customer intelligence
          – Rating: low value

It is also important to note that analyst consulting days are never effective as:

  • A method for gathering market and customer intelligence
  • A replacement for a well-planned briefing
  • A bribe to the analyst to get them to change their minds.

AR needs to think about how to maximize the use of analyst’s time during an analyst consulting day. For example, using a consulting day to provide a high profile speaker for an extended marketing event can be a draw to increase attendance and motivate attendees to better understand the market. But just don’t be satisfied with the analyst doing the speech and shaking a few hands. Use some of the day to have a roundtable with your local sales team on competitive positioning and what the analyst is hearing from your customers and prospects. Also, set up a meeting with executives attending the marketing event to exchange information and build the relationship. Thus, AR can layer multiple high value activities into one engagement.

If executed properly, analyst consulting days can provide the information and executive access that can help change an analyst’s opinion, especially when combined with other interactions over time. However, merely writing a check for the consulting day fee is not an instant and easy way to change an opinion. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for changing an analyst’s opinion.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Consulting days should have clearly articulated objectives
  • AR teams should carefully review the reasons for buying an analyst consulting day
  • Effective consulting days are the result of good planning and appropriate use of resources
  • If not initiated by AR, teams should tactfully probe the motivation of an executive or product manager who is requesting an analyst consulting day. If it appears the requester thinks that the day can be a “bribe” then AR needs to educate the requester that this is inappropriate

Bottom Line: SageCircle strongly recommends that vendors determine their goals before they buy analyst consulting days. While a mixture of the goals is certainly possible, being clear about what you are after can lead to more valuable results. In each case, the vendor should also consider whether pursuing other options would achieve the same or better results.  Once a consulting day is chosen it is critical to apply appropriate resources to planning and execution.  High value consults don’t just happen.

Question:

Analysts – For what other circumstances do you think analyst consulting days are appropriate? Would you or your firm consider a paid briefing day an appropriate use of such a fee?

AR teams – Do you have a systematic decision framework for whether to do an analyst consulting day? Do you explore other cheaper or less labor intensive ways to accomplish your goals?

Are you getting the most from your analyst consulting days? SageCircle can help. Our strategists can:

  • Provide you with proven best practicesinthe form of workbooks and checklists
  • Act as a sounding board to review plans and execution steps
  • Educate participants on the best practices for an analyst consulting day
  • Save you time, money and aggravation while maximizing value

The Maximizing the Analyst Consulting Day Mini-Workshop (click for PDF) is a standard deliverable for Advisory Service clients and $895 for non-clients. Mini-workshop includes workbook, checklists, webinar-based training and phone-based inquiries.

To learn more contact us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.

analyst-consulting-day-brochure-image-200w.jpg Click to open brochure as a PDF.

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