During the January 27, 2009 Gartner Quarterly AR Call, GVP Jenni Lehman, research operations, made a useful point that we think that vendors do not focus on enough:
”There are only so many briefing hours in a year.”
This point is important because many vendors rely too much on briefings, and have ill-planned and poorly executed briefings. Calling on analysts too often and conducting low value briefings can lead to the situation where analysts cut back on the number of briefing slots allocated to the vendor. This outcome has nothing to do with the size of the vendor’s contract and everything to do with the typical value the analyst is getting from his or her investment of time with the vendor. Why should an analyst invest an hour with a vendor if they know they will get little useful information or strategic insights from the vendor?
AR programs need to carefully review all their planned briefings – you do plan your briefing schedule months in advance, right? – to ensure they are delivering the most valuable information for the analyst and communicating the highest priority of the vendor’s messages. Once you have made sure that critical messages and supporting context are delivered then you fill in additional information delivery needs using other types of
- Develop a strategic AR plan that explicitly states what information and key messages need to be delivered and includes targets for the mix of interactions
- Create a planning calendar that lists out your key influential analysts and planned interactions by month, balancing inbound and outbound
- Capture all analyst interactions in your Analyst Relationship Management (ARM) application or other tool
- Monthly review your previous three months of interactions to determine if you adhering to your mix targets
- Adjust upcoming interaction types to adjust the balance of inbound and outbound
Bottom Line: Vendors have to be practical that analysts – not just at Gartner but at all firms – can only spend so much time on formal vendor briefings and that there is a lot of competition for that time. As a consequence, AR programs have to ruthlessly focus their briefings on the most important key messages and use other interaction types to supplement information flow. AR also has to make sure that every briefing has “hooks” that get the analyst asking for follow-on interactions so the vendor does not have use relationship capital for requesting briefing slots.
Question: AR professionals – Are you planning your information delivery priorities for a rolling four quarter time frame with quarterly reviews? Analysts – What do you want vendors to focus on in briefings?