Not responding to analysts can lead to major issues

SageCircle believes strongly in ranking and tiering your analyst list and applying your resources in a reasonable and carefully thought out process.  By determining the relative importance and impact of each analyst you can decide how much of your available resource to allocate.  This allows you to give sufficient resource to the real influencers rather than spreading your energy so thin as to have no impact.

That said, it is important to determine a policy for dealing with tier three analysts other than ignoring them.  Recently an article was published about Motorola where an analyst was quoted as basically saying that they were losing talent and the entire AR had left (see article).

Investigation by SageCircle strategists determined that while the analyst had attempted to reach most, if not all, of the team members NONE had responded to his request for information.  His conclusion was bad, and he appears to have apologized for the quote.  But the damage is done and the AR team will now spend far more cycles repairing the damage than if someone had responded to the analyst.

This brings up three concepts that all AR teams need to address:

First, what is the policy for responding to lower tier analysts in a timely manner?  A voicemail does not require a voice response – perhaps an email reply of “no comment” or “sorry, can’t help you at this time, best of luck with your research” is sufficient.  But some sort of a reply should always be given to an analyst request even if they are not on your key analysts list.

Secondly, do you have a current and correct contact for any and all analysts that seek you out?  How do you maintain your database of phone and email addresses so that you can provide quick and timely response?

Lastly, how does the team collaborate?  So often analysts will call more than one AR manager within an organization seeking corporate consistency.  By playing one employee against another they can often cross-check information or even unexpectedly get non-disclosure information.  If each AR staff member records analyst interactions into a shared application as they occur the corporate memory will be maintained.  This then allows a staff member to quickly see if anyone on the team has recently communicated with the analyst before providing a response.

Our recommendations to Motorola are simple, and apply to other organizations as well.  Motorola happens to be visible at the moment, but analysts may be saying negative things about you as well. Not all AR actions can be proactive, but firefighting reactive work is far more resource consuming.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Rank and tier your analysts and create a plan for allocating level of effort
  • Establish a policy for responding to analyst requests of all tiers
  • Maintain a contact data base
  • Share your interaction history in a real-time application
  • Check the activities of your peers before responding to the analyst inquiry

Bottom Line: The “cost” of damage control far exceeds the efforts required to avoid the problem in the first place. Proper planning, automated tools, group collaboration, and response policies go a long way to making the job easier and much more fun.

Question:

AR teams – Do you rank and tier your lists frequently?  How do you allocate resources?  How does the team collaborate?

Analysts – How long can you wait for most information?  What do you do when the AR team fails to respond?

Do you need assistance in your AR resource planning? SageCircle can Help – We have a series of planning templates that can help you allocate resources.

SageCircle strategists understand your opportunities, challenges and priorities because we have been AR practitioners and executives as well as industry analysts and AR researchers. SageCircle emphasizes the use of phone-based inquiry through its Advisory Service, which is your lifeline when you need timely access to an AR and analyst expert to exploit an opportunity or mitigate a problem. Advisory is available through an annual “all you can eat” contract or blocks of two or five hours “by the drink.” Click here to learn more about our advisory services.

Call 650-274-8309 or e-mail info (at) sagecircle dot com for more information. Also follow Carter’s commentary www.twitter.com/carterlusher to get a feel for how information is now being transmitted using micro-blogging.

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5 Responses

  1. Re your question to analysts, the amount of time you can wait depends on what you are doing. It is incumbent on us to provide adequate and appropriate notice, though.

    If there is no response to a reasonable request, the answer for us is pretty simple – go speak with the vendor’s customers and partners. Using the customer view of a vendor’s strategy/actions/offerings actually often gives you more accurate insights anyway if you gather enough data points. It is more expensive, but if we have to utilise our primary research machine in that way (which is normally reserved for non-vendor specific studies) then we will do (and have done).

    It unfortunately puts the AR team in a less than ideal position when the report/assessment is actually published, as it is difficult to argue with customer feedback, even if it is positioned clearly as a perception or ‘temperature’ check.

    The reality is that if we receive a number of consecutive refusals, and the vendor is an important player that canot be left out of an analysis, then we have little choice.

    Out of interest, what is your own advice to analysts who are consistently refused briefings?

  2. Hi Dale, Thanks for the comment. Good insights.

    What I advise analysts is that many times they are being turned down because the AR team is not really familar with the firm’s coverage, client base and visibility profile. And probably what they think they know is either wrong or out-of-date.

    Thus it is important for smaller firms to do a little marketing to raise the awareness about their firm in the vendor in question. Most AR teams are so overloaded that they perceive that they cannot research every unfamiliar firm that requests a briefing. So it becomes a really easy decision in their minds to simply say “No” or completely ignore any requests from unfamiliar firms.

    When I first joined Gartner back in ’92, the whole analyst industry was still under the radar of many vendors. So I got a lot of “Gartner who? What? IR handles analysts. Bye.” when I was requesting briefings and information. I put together some boilerplate for a fax — remember faxes? how quaint ;-) — that I would send that included background on analysts and Gartner. That usually did the trick to get the vendors’ attention and cooperation.

  3. […] Ignoring analysts’ requests – even if only to say that AR cannot respond to the request at this time […]

  4. […] AR also has to be careful not to dismiss as not relevant, someone who is ranked low on the analyst list or whose firm is unfamiliar to AR. For more on this topic please read Not responding to analysts can lead to major issues. […]

  5. Carter,

    I want to lend my support to your comment that inquiries from relatively unimportant analysts should be responded do, but not necessarily in a substantive way. While you’re right to say that some AR teams may not appreciate the influence of an analyst they are unfamiliar with, it’s more the case that AR teams waste huge amounts of time with analyst who do not serve their customers. That time would be better spent giving more information to analysts who are used by decision-makers in their target market.

    Clearly, no reply gives the wrong impression and it’s impolite. But it’s important to give very different service levels to different analysts. Which is why those firms that list industry.analysts@vendor.com on their website are doing the right thing. If an email comes in form an analyst you are not targeting, then it should not go to senior AR staff. Instead is needs to go for triage and probably a polite suggestion that they serve themselves from the website.

    By the way, many thanks for keeping your blog so active over the summer break. I and quite a few others have been offline while you’ve been hammering away. Kudos is due!

    Duncan.

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