Why AR Matters – Analysts can get your company on short lists that you were excluded from

icon-dollar-euro.jpgMost analyst relations (AR) professionals are in an environment where they have to continually justify the relevance of the industry analysts and AR. One of the best arguments for justifying the investment in AR is the impact analysts have on the company’s sales opportunities. Usually the easiest to find examples are negative, such as when an analyst’s commentary has caused a vendor to be removed or excluded from a short list, because a sales rep will be howling in anger. However, with some investigation AR can turn up positive impacts of the analysts, e.g., when an analyst has been your advocate by getting your company onto a short list.

In Reality Check: Sales reps matter more than product on the Software Insider blog, former Forrester analyst and current VP of Research at SSPA John Ragsdale illustrates how an analyst with a simple question can help a vendor get placement on a vendor short list. 

“…Over the last year I have become increasingly aware of something and wanted to share it with a larger audience. When I have conversations with companies about a pending software purchase (usually CRM or eService), they tell me the core business problems they are trying to solve, then give me the list of vendors they are considering. And almost every time, I hear a little jingle from Sesame Street in my head:

     “One of these things is not like the other
     One of these things just doesn’t belong
     Can you guess which thing is not like the other
     By the time I finish this song?

“Why? Because the obvious vendor(s) who are specialists in their problem are not on the list, and they are selecting from a group of vendors who all do something else. So I ask, “Um, why isn’t Vendor X on the list?” And here is the universal reply. ‘Oh, we started with them, but their sales rep was an asshole.’ …”

In multiple surveys of technology buyers conducted by SageCircle and H&K, on average 60% of buyers interviewed said that they had added a vendor to a short list because of analyst commentary. Sometimes it is just the analyst asking why a vendor has been excluded (many reasons) and suggesting that the buyer would be better served by adding the vendor.

There is no guarantee that the analyst in a situation like this will be able to convince a tech buyer to add a vendor that has been excluded from a short list for an inappropriate reason. However, an analyst that has been well educated about your company will be in a better position to change the buyer’s mind. Thus the reason behind our tag line for AR: “Effective analyst relations drives sales!”

Besides acting “behind the scenes” on deals that you know nothing about, analysts can also be a great tool to actively use to overcome hurdles to getting placed on a short short. This usage of positive analyst commentary should be a standard part of your AR-sales partnership.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Use client inquiry to ask analysts for examples of why tech buyers have excluded your company from short lists and whether the analyst suggested that your company should be added
  • Work with your lead management team (or Sales) to add the question “Did you call us because of a conversation with an industry analyst or a research note you read?” to the standard lead qualification script
  • Work with your win-loss function to add the question “How did you use analyst commentary during the course of this purchase?” to the standard script
  • Leverage positive analysts as a sales tool when a sales rep comes to you for help because of short list exclusion

Bottom Line: One of the best kept secrets of the analyst ecosystem is the number of times that analyst commentary gets vendors added to short list. By searching for examples, AR can use this information to demonstrate the business value of AR.

Question: AR teams – Do you work with sales and lead management to proactively determine what is the impact of the analysts on short lists? Analysts – How often do you suggest that your end-user clients add a vendor to a short list?

5 Responses

  1. Carter

    We get users ALL THE TIME send us their shortlists for services firms, and, 9 times out of 10, they have missed many providers they should be evaluating. We correct them, and often introduce them to suppliers if they need contacts etc. There is a blatant dearth of information out there on vendors, and good analysts are there to fill the void. My only advice to vendors is to vet whether analysts actually have user clients and spend time with users – and then apportion the amount of time they spend talking with them appropriately,

    PF.

  2. Hi Phil, Thanks for the comment.

    That is a scary statistic, but I am not surprised. In many markets there are typically too many vendors for an average IT manager to follow with way too much information to wade through.

    I completely agree that vendors wanting to influence vendor short lists need to verify the client base of analysts they plan on briering. Focus is so important.

  3. Carter,

    I am speaking specifically about services – not IT products. In the majority of instances, firms have put together a list of vendors that has missed off several other vendors with whom they should take a look at. The market is so competitive right now and there are multiple options to consider.

    Phil.

  4. [...] company’s sales force and increasing lead generation via analysts placing the company on purchasing short lists). Two areas of low hanging fruit for saving time that can then be reallocated to other activities [...]

  5. [...] As AR professionals, we all are familiar with the value and sales influence of industry analysts. It can sometimes be a hard sell internally, because for ethical reasons analysts do not speak about their end-user client engagements. But anecdotal evidence shows that IT analysts influence most, if not all, large deals [...]

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