Rebutting the spoken word – can you really know what analysts are saying? [AR practitioner question]

Question: Is it possible to respond to something an analyst says? 

Advice: It is not only possible to respond to the analysts’ spoken word, it is highly recommended. Obviously, it is more difficult to respond to the spoken word than to respond to written research, but in many cases, the stakes are much higher because actual sales hang in the balance.

First, you need to find out what the analyst has actually said. It many cases, this task requires investigation on AR’s part because you are hearing about the analyst’s conversation second- or third-hand. In most cases, AR is hearing about an analyst’s verbal comments from one of their company’s sales representatives – after a sales deal has been impacted negatively. Rather than acting immediately on what the sales rep thinks was said (e.g. sometimes the sales rep gets the analyst’s name or firm wrong, or does not recall all the details of the conversation), AR should coordinate with the vendor sales rep to go back to the prospect and find out exactly what transpired. Investigation need not take a long time or generate too much stress on AR’s part. The investigation phase includes talking with the vendor sales rep, the prospect and the analyst (Online SageContentTM Library (OSL) clients can look up “Responding to Analyst Impacts- Investigation Phase” for more information, Advisory clients can set up an inquiry to get the best practices and advice on applying them).

Once AR staffers have determined as best they can what the analyst actually said, AR can advise the sales rep on how to repair the damage to the deal. Then, AR can proceed – carefully – to work with the analyst to eliminate future problems caused during end-user conversations.

The above discussion relates to reacting to a specific situation; it also is possible to determine proactively what an analyst is likely to say through putting into place a Spoken Word Audit program. This technique (OSL article “Spoken Word Audits”) works to approximate what the analyst would say in certain end-user inquiry situations. Once AR has implemented this program, it can use the data gathered to reinforce the analyst’s positive perception or turn around his or her negative perception.  AR can benchmark its progress in influencing the analyst’s perception over time through conducting Spoken Word Audits every six months.

SageCircle can make it easy for AR teams to audit the analysts’ spoken words in a way that makes sense for your situation. We have best practices, SageToolsTM, examples and advice ready to help you launch an easy-to-manage opinion monitoring program. As to out-tasking Spoken Word Audits to third parties, SageCircle does not offer this service. However, we know the firms that do and provide Advisory clients with insights on which firm to use and how to manage the relationship. Give us a call at 503-636-1500 or send an email to info [at] sagecircle.com to arrange a briefing.

Bottom Line: Because so much of the analysts’ research and recommendations are delivered via the spoken word, AR needs make analysts’ verbal comments an important focus of its charter.

Question: Do you have a spoken word audit program?

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