Are you checking for the year-end prediction research notes?

Well, it’s that time of the year when thoughts turn to holiday parties, mistletoe and… the annual deluge of analyst predictions for the coming year. For example, the rollout of Gartner Predicts research notes started in November with 44 published so far. Another example is IDC starting its series of industry Top 10 Predictions webinars and reports. There are many more examples from single practitioners to major firms. 

Many in the vendor community dismiss the annual flurry of predictions because they perceive them to be fluff with extremely short shelf lives. It is also easy to miss these annual notes if you have alerts keyed to your company name because companies are not often mentioned in the notes. However, your sales people can be blindsided by one of these notes if the analyst denigrates your market, even if your company is not directly mentioned. Don’t be surprised if the content of a prediction appears to be a little wild-eyed and out of character for your favorite sober-sided analyst – they are encouraged to write in an edgy style in order to be entertaining and perhaps get press attention.

Don’t forget to check the firms’ press releases as well, because they can differ from the original prediction. For example, a Gartner prediction in Continue reading

The Top 5: Roadshow Readiness Mistakes

Analyst Relations PlanningEven in the 21st Century with telepresence and social media, sometimes it is very useful to hit the road and meet analysts in person. Unfortunately these are expensive exercises so analyst relations (AR) teams need to be aware of the following top mistakes when it comes to road shows.

5) Not picking the right individuals to brief. Too often IT vendors waste precious time briefing analysts that have little ability to support the goals of the vendor.  While it is fine to add secondary analysts the focus must be on the most relevant to your revenues

4) Preparing a “one size fits all” presentation rather than tailoring presentations to the individual and type of analyst firm being briefed.  Analysts need to feel that you have taken the time to address their specific interests.

3) Having the wrong orientation, i.e., wanting to perform a data dump of speeds and feeds on the analyst instead of engaging in Continue reading

Gartner and Forrester are not, repeat not, Tier 1

Analyst Relations PlanningYou read the headline correctly; Forrester and Gartner should never be considered Tier 1. Yes, yes, Gartner is the industry behemoth and Forrester is likely the number two firm for enterprise end users, but that does not make them automatically Tier 1 for the purpose of creating a ranked and tiered analyst list. 

In the analyst list methodology that SageCircle has developed, analyst firms should not be given an automatic “tier” because what should be ranked is analysts, not firms. Ranking should be done based on a set of criteria (e.g., industry visibility, research coverage, client base, and so on) related to the vendor’s and AR team’s objectives. After a ranked list is created, then AR draws lines on the list to split the list into groups (e.g., Tier 1, 2 and 3, or strategic, important, and secondary or whatever you want to call them) that will define the types the service level (e.g., 1-to-1, 1-to-many or none-to-many responses) the AR team will give each analyst on the list. Tiers and service levels are created based on AR resources (i.e., the bigger the AR team the more Tier 1 analysts can be supported). While the characteristics of the firm will contribute to the data for ranking, merely working at Forrester or Gartner should never guarantee an analyst that they will have Tier 1 status.

SageCircle strategists frequently see analyst relations (AR) teams give Tier 1 status to analysts of the Big Two, even if their true relevance should place them much farther down on the ranked list. This can lead to AR misallocating resources by putting too much emphasis on some analysts while not having sufficient resources to brief or respond to other analysts. Remember, depending on the market and the analysts, a single practitioner or boutique can have just as much influence as the Big Two.

SageCircle Technique:

Understanding the Analysts: Unreasonable Demands?

Recently, a global software client e-mailed us that a prominent industry analyst was demanding certain proof points for a major change in sales strategy that the vendor had just announced. The information demanded was something that this particular software company has a policy of not releasing. Our client was very frustrated and felt that the analyst was being dogmatic and unreasonable. 

Frankly, we would have asked for similar proof points if we were in the analyst’s position. The vendor shouldn’t take the demand personally, as even a moderately skeptical analyst should say “ok, nice idea but how are you going to do it?” A good analyst will always peel back the onion to see if there is any credibility to the plan. Our criticism of the analyst lies in not searching for or accepting alternative proof points to support the vendor’s claims.

Talk is cheap — many vendors announce grandiose schemes with no plans to invest in the necessary resources to execute those plans. Another common mistake vendors make is grossly underestimating the work required to implement a particular plan. Sometimes they frankly don’t understand what they need to do in order to be successful. Yet another issue is they’re ignoring the internal political and cultural realities of making a major change.

There are multitudes of real-life examples we could list where vendors wanted analysts to accept something at face value. One of the values that analysts provide to IT buyers is risk management.  In order to provide good advice about what to buy or how to implement it an analyst must have sufficient and believable data about the chances of success. Analysts would have egg on their faces if they publish a report merely based on what the vendor said without demanding substantial proof points. It only takes a few experiences of publishing research based on vendor’s statements – and then having it blow up in your face – for an analyst to become cynical, skeptical, quizzical, distrustful, suspicious, hostile, an inquisitor, and any other descriptors you care to add.

However all is not lost. Use this type of a situation as an opportunity to work with the analyst to determine what Continue reading

The Top 5 – Mistakes concerning SAS days

Here are the top mistakes by IT vendors when using SAS (aka analyst consulting days) as a tool for briefing the analysts, marketing support or as an advisor. 

   5)   Not using preliminary phone briefings and inquiries to set the groundwork before the analyst shows up for the on-site day.

   4)   Not getting a full day’s worth of time and effort when using an analyst as a speaker at a marketing event.

   3)   Not doing sufficient planning in advance including agenda setting.

   2)   Not being disciplined about sticking to the agenda (e.g., wanting the analyst to contribute to your strategy and plans in order to get psychological buy-in but spending the entire day briefing the analyst on less important issues).

…and the number one worst practice is

1)     Having the wrong reason for doing analyst consulting days in the first place. Too many IT vendors think of paying analyst consulting day fees as some sort of a bribe to get favorable coverage. The reality is that a consulting day is a way to get the analyst’s uninterrupted Continue reading

Can I use a newsletter to promote my AR blog? (AR Practitioner Question)

Question: The following question was asked during a Blogging for AR webinar “Can I use a newsletter to promote my AR blog?”

The answer is “yes.” A newsletter is one of many tools AR should be using to increase the visibility and traffic to its blog. A regular newsletter (e.g., sent the last Wednesday of every month) could highlight some or all posts on a blog with a simple one sentence tease with the link to the post. Do not include the full post as you would want the analyst to get in the habit of visiting your blog. In addition to promoting the blog, this regular – and short – newsletter could include news about events, links to especially important financial statements or other web posted information, and even links to press releases, if they were highly relevant to analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

Other techniques for promoting an AR blog include:

  • Include a link to the blog in your email signature block
  • Include a link to the blog in any Continue reading

Train content developers to save time

“Geez, I wasted so much time just trying to fix this VP’s presentation I should have done it myself!” Alas, this is a common lament that SageCircle strategists hear when we are chatting with clients about how the preparation is going for a briefing, SAS day, and so on. The lament concerns that having someone on an executive’s staff prepare a presentation is not the time saver for analyst relations (AR) they had hoped. The time spent back and forth trying to get a presentation fixed often turns into a huge time sink for AR.

The answer is not for AR to give up and do all the presentations themselves. Rather, AR should invest a modest amount of time in developing templates for different types of presentations, examples, and also training for content developers. A little upfront training will save time on the immediate and future analyst interactions as content developers who “get” the analysts’ information needs will generate PowerPoint files that will require much less effort on AR’s part.

Content developer training should be part of an overall training plan (see this post), which should be part of your AR Strategic & Tactical Plan.

SageCircle Technique for Analyst Relations Teams:

  • Develop a short training plan for the extended team, which includes content developers
  • Generate presentation templates that lay out what slides and associated content are appropriate for Continue reading

The questions that Forrester and Gartner clients ask the analysts

While it is illegal for analyst relations (AR) teams to wiretap the analysts, it is possible to eavesdrop on their conversations with enterprise IT managers and other technology and telecommunications buyers. Well, sort of.

 The “Big Two” advisory firms have services, Forrester Client Advantage and Gartner Customer Insights, which are databases of the questions clients ask when scheduling a client inquiry. The insights available in these simple databases can be incredibly useful for vendors who invest the time and budget in data mining.

The information that can be extracted is of use to multiple constituencies within a vendor including AR (of course), market research, messaging, product management, sales and others. There are many more uses of the insights than there are audiences. For instance, for AR the questions illustrate the type of information that the analysts need… which Continue reading

Cost optimization at Symposium will be a critical thread to follow for vendors (part 3 of 7 about Gartner’s Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts. 

Logo - Symposium 2009The Gartnerians made reminded everyone that the overall theme of Symposium in 2009 is “Balancing Cost, Risk, Growth.” One of the topics they made sure to highlight is cost optimization. While this has all been included in the voluminous marketing by Gartner, it is easy for AR teams to over look the importance of the cost optimization topic for their companies.

Gartner’s recommendations for cost optimization steps given to enterprise IT managers often come at the expense of the vendors. That is because the Gartner analysts will be suggesting that end users – the primary clients of Gartner – postpone new purchases, go with cheaper alternatives, reduce new licenses, cut support fees, demand deeper and maybe unrealistic discounts, and otherwise squeeze the vendors. For some vendors these recommendations might be a direct threat to active and potential sales deals. For other vendors these recommendations might be a great tool to leverage in sales deals because they closely match their position in the marketplace.

While at Symposium, AR teams can gather important intelligence about what cost-cutting advice analysts are recommending to enterprise IT managers. It is likely not possible to get such unfiltered insights from published Continue reading

Don’t bring your CEO to Symposium and expect to brief the analysts (part 2 of 7 about Gartner’s Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts.

Logo - Symposium 2009One of the questions at the first of the Gartner Q3 AR Calls was something along the lines of “I am bringing my CEO to Symposium and want to meet with six analysts. In addition, my CEO wants to give an overview presentation. When can I expect confirmation?”

The Gartnerians were incredibly patient and diplomatic in their response. We will be somewhat more frank in our response:

  • There is a snowball’s chance in Hell that you can set up a meeting of this nature with six analysts because schedules are already getting booked
  • It would be a waste of time to do an overview briefing (see part 1 of this series for why)
  • Your CEO would likely be insulted by an analyst’s lack of interest in his overview should you actually corner one to meet with him, for instance during a 1-on-1
  • Not correctly setting the CEO’s expectations about Symposium could be a career-limiting move for the AR manager

First and foremost, vendors need to realize that Gartner Symposium is end-user centric. While vendor ITxpo sponsorships contribute significantly to Symposium’s revenue stream, it is the end users that account for at least 70% of Gartner’s overall annual revenue. So everything that Gartner is doing is focused on maximizing the experience for enterprise CIOs and IT managers. This includes giving end users priority access to Continue reading

Prepping for Gartner Symposium (part 1 of 7 about Gartner Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts.

Logo - Symposium 2009In the presentation for the AR call (click here to get a copy of the slides, to be posted by COB 9/21/09), the Gartnerians made a number of very useful suggestions for AR and other vendor staff going to Symposium. Many of the suggestions were the same ones SageCircle have made in the past including during the August 2009 AR Coffee Talk on “Staying Top of Mind for Symposium.” A quick summary of Gartner’s top suggestions with our commentary:

  • Understand the realities of analysts’ life at Symposium – Every minute is scheduled and they are worked to exhaustion.
    • Implication: Do not try to brief or otherwise give analysts information that you want them to remember because they simply will not remember it
    • Best practice: Use Symposium for relationship building and gauging analyst interest in a topic. Then schedule briefings after Symposium on the new information
  • Do: Draw relevance to analysts’ (that you are talking to) published research and know what they’re presenting on
    • Best practice: Do your homework before heading to Symposium
  • Do: Make it a two-way conversation (when talking to analysts at 1-on-1s or side meetings)
    • Implication: Monologues where vendors are talking at analysts are a waste of time
    • Best practice: Ask questions about their research agenda and what they are hearing from Continue reading

Is it time to incorporate risk analysis into analyst list rankings?

Analyst Relations PlanningEvery AR team needs to manage their analyst list(s) to ensure they are focused on providing the right attention to the right analysts.  SageCircle stands on the “analyst list management” soapbox a lot because it such an important aspect of an effective and efficient AR program.  Creating a ranked list based on impact and then tiering based on available resources is the way to manage your service levels for analysts and ultimately manage your stress. There are many data points that go into an analyst ranking frameworks like visibility, research coverage, reputation, firm, geography and so on. This post is the opener for a discussion on whether risk should be added to the ranking criteria.

In this context, the risk being discussed is the potential damage to sales deals, market perception, internal politics, and such that can be caused by an analyst with a negative opinion. How much effort should you put into negative analysts?

So, should risk be incorporated into the analyst ranking framework as either a primary or secondary criterion? For instance, two analysts that are pretty much equal in all other criteria could see a negative analyst getting ranked higher than a positive analyst because there is more risk associated with the negative analyst and AR wants to invest more time to move that analyst’s opinion. If the two analysts are on the border between Tier 1 and Tier 2 Continue reading

Defining “Analyst List Service Level Framework”

An analyst list service level framework defines the amount of resources that are available and the type and amount of each type that will be provided to any group of analysts as defined by ranking and tiering. For example, a service level framework will indicate which analysts receive one-on-one briefings from executives, get highest priority to getting their information requests handled, and are first contacted when major news breaks. Because service level frameworks reflect the amount of resources that the analyst relations (AR) team has available they must evolve as resources change.

Service level frameworks typically align with the tiers (e.g., Tier 1 and Tier 2) established by the analyst list management process.

Defining “Tiering an Analyst List”

Tiering is a process for segmenting an analyst list so that analyst relations (AR) can prioritize its activities. The most common labels are based on numbers (e.g., Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3).  Tiering starts with a ranked list of analysts and then draws lines between analysts to create groups. Tiering is based on AR resources (e.g., AR headcount, executive bandwidth for briefings, budget, et cetera). The fewer the resources the smaller the number of analysts that can be included in the Tier 1 group. 

Tiering is one step in analyst list management and follows ranking and is used to provide structure to the service level framework.

Defining “Ranking an Analyst List”

Ranking is a process for ordering a list of analysts based on formal weighted criteria. The criteria can include points such as research coverage, visibility (e.g., publications, press quotes, social media, speeches, etc), firm affiliation, geography, risk, and others. Criteria and weights are driven by the objectives of the vendor at both the business unit and analyst relations level. Criteria and weights should evolve over time as objectives change. 

While firm affiliation is an important data point, it is not the primary driver for analyst lists. Ranking should focus on individual analysts and not automatically give top placement for analysts employed by the largest analyst firms.

Ranking is one step in analyst list management and precedes tiering.

Defining “Analyst List Management”

Analyst list management is a process for identifying, ranking in priority order, and tiering into segments the analyst community. The purpose is to provide analyst relations with a tool for establishing analyst relevance and analyst relations (AR) team priorities.

There can never be an analyst influence database [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: Is there a database that ranks analysts in terms of influence?

While there are some fine analyst directories or databases available for purchase (e.g., ARinsight’s ARchitect3) none of have “influence” data. This is because influence is a relative term which is dependent on what the vendor is trying to accomplish and the market space they are addressing. Obviously two companies with different products would see the same analyst as having different influence.  However, two competitors in the same market could also end up with analyst lists that are different because they have different business objectives they are trying to accomplish. Even the same vendor could rank the influence of the same analysts differently over time, even in a span of only a few months, as the vendor’s business and analyst relations (AR) objectives change.

While there are no databases of influence to purchase, AR can still create a formal analyst list management process with documented ranking criteria. Although this framework cannot eliminate the work associated with determining influence, it will permit AR to rank their analyst lists efficiently.

If an AR team does not have the bandwidth to do the work associated with creating an analyst list, there are Continue reading

So you were left off a Wave or Magic Quadrant – what next?

We don't exist according to ForresterIn January 2009, The Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 2009 was published. This happened to be the inaugural publication of a Wave for this particular market. The primary author of this Wave was Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle, blog) who conducted an incredibly transparent – for a Forrester or Gartner analyst – process for the creation of this Wave (see list of relevant blog posts at the end of this post). Jeremiah’s use of social media gave vendors in this nascent market plenty of opportunity to know what was going on with this research.

As is with the case with any piece of analyst research covering a new, dynamic, and extremely fragmented market only a fraction of the possible vendors can be fit into the time and space available. In this case, it was nine of more than 100 vendors. Neighborhood America, a social networking platform vendor, was left off the Community Platform Wave and did not take kindly to the exclusion. Neighborhood America created a web page, “Why weren’t we included in the Forrester Wave Report?”, to tell its side of the story. They also put a link on their home page (graphic above) to make sure visitors knew to go to the page. The explanation was reasonably well done (SageCircle would have counseled some additional text to provide context) and did not overtly attack either Forrester or the analyst. The latter part is important because an attack would have looked like sour grapes by a sore loser.

This was a very smart step to do. You can see the Community Platforms Wave graphic on Flickr and the PDF of the research note is easily available for free on the web. As a consequence, Neighborhood America prospects might see the graphic or Wave research and decide to drop them from a pending sales opportunity without further information. While Neighborhood America’s response will not get the breadth of readership that a Forrester research note will, it is a useful exercise.

SageCircle does not know the exact details about why Continue reading

How many Tier 1 analysts can be supported by an AR professional? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: We are heading into our annual planning process (or preparing to revise our analyst list) and want to know if there is a rule of thumb for how many Tier 1 analysts per AR headcount?

A common question SageCircle receives is what is the rule of thumb for how many Tier 1 analysts that an AR professional can effectively support? Sometimes it is within the context of an AR planning exercise or because we had gone through our litany that for analyst lists “you rank on relevance and tier based on AR resources.” Inevitably the next question after that is “Ok, how many Tier 1s can a team of my size support?”

Up to this point we always gave a very firm and definitive answer of “it depends.” There are so many variables to calculating this answer that we could not – would not – give a hard-and-fast rule of thumb because it would be misleading. So what are some of these variables? A small, very small, subset includes:

  • What is your service level framework for each analyst tier?
  • What standard activities per month do you want to do with each Tier 1 analyst?
  • How many full time equivalents are on the staff?
  • How many Magic Quadrants and Waves are you on?
  • How complete is your measurement program and who does the data collection?
  • How many general briefings do you plan on giving in an average time period?
  • Et cetera

Frankly, the “it depends” answer was honest and best, but unsatisfactory. So we analyzed the question and determined that it is possible to estimate the number of Tier 1 analysts per AR headcount. And the answer is… you have to create a spreadsheet that captures the variables and crunches the data. There still is not a magic rule of thumb that will tell the average AR team what the ratio is because there is no truly average AR team. While this is a non-trivial exercise, AR teams should be able to develop a tool with sufficient skull sweat and effort.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Create a service level framework that defines what services AR will be providing each analyst tier
  • Create an analyst list management framework that defines the criteria that will be used to identify and rank analysts
  • Create a standard approach for Continue reading

Analyst Relations budget – Use it, don’t lose it

It’s now July 22nd, about half way through the third calendar quarter. Many communications and IT vendors have budget policies in place where departments lose any budget that is not spent within a particular fiscal quarter or calendar year. AR managers frequently find it difficult to find a good use for remaining budget, especially when it might only be a few thousand dollars. Are you kicking yourself because you had had left over budget at the end of the last quarter that you did not use? In addition, you don’t want to blow any remaining budget on something that might not be used to its fullest extent, like a reprint of a so-so research note or a Gartner Advisory seat for someone who probably won’t do inquiries.

An excellent use of remaining budget is AR staff development because it increases efficiency and effectiveness, boosts staff morale and adds variety to the job. Staff development  is even more important during a recession when bonuses are meager and pay raises are not likely.

To make it easy for AR managers to spend odd amounts of end-of-the-quarter budget, SageCircle offers its services à la carte as well as by annual subscription. We have many services under $1,000 such as webinars ($95), Online SageContent Library ($395), AR briefings ($495), workshops ($495) and advisory blocks (2 hours $495, 5 hours $995) and seminars ($995).

Another advantage of SageCircle AR training offerings is that many are 90 minutes or less, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule or a regular staff call. Oh, did I mention that you can conveniently buy any SageCircle service via credit card to ensure you get it into this quarter’s purchases? We will also work around the clock to complete any paperwork you need for traditional purchase order/invoice.

Here are three examples of how you can mix-and-match SageCircle training services to meet various needs:

AR continuing education – This example assumes an experienced AR staff located in one office. The first two items are free, which of course is a great price. Using the AR DiagnosticTM as a continuing education tool is atypical, but the questions asked Continue reading

SAS day success – ruthlessly drive value

SAS(1) days (aka analyst consulting days, see definition) are a popular tool with many technology vendors. If done correctly SAS days can have a great ROI. If done poorly, a SAS day is a waste of time, money, and AR political capital.  It also has the added risk of hurting your company’s relationship and standing with the analyst.

The business problems for the IT vendor community lie in the fact that neither the analysts nor the vendors have a good process in place to ensure that the analyst consulting day will deliver value to the client. Too often analyst consulting days are executed in a haphazard manner with little prior planning or even a formal agenda. In order to solve this problem, vendors need to take a more a systematic approach to deciding whether or not an analyst consulting day is even required and then executing the days purchased with more rigor.

The critical success factor to ensuring SAS success is for AR managers to take full responsibility for driving business value from the engagement. Taking responsibility also means managing colleagues as well as analysts. You need a process, best practices, checklists, and participant training to ensure your colleagues are fully prepared and in agreement with the desired outcomes for the SAS day. 

In terms of the analysts, AR needs to work hard to ensure the analyst is fully engaged in preparing for the day and completing any follow up that you specify. AR also needs to work doubly hard to make sure the analyst does not try to stay for less than Continue reading

“You have a problem message, not a problem analyst!”

Analyst Relations PlanningSageCircle strategists are frequently called upon to help a client with a problem analyst. As we chat with the client and investigate the circumstances it sometimes turns out that the problem is not the analyst, but the poor messaging being used with the analysts. This problem is frequently compounded by a lack of customer stories that can support the messages.

There are many elements to a poorly executed message (e.g., hype, unsupportable claims, poor understanding of the market, and others). A savvy industry analyst will quickly decide that a message does not pass muster and will penalize the vendor heavily. If a vendor cannot properly develop and present the all important corporate/business message then what other problems lurk in the background?

While analyst relations is rarely called upon to contribute to the company’s or business unit’s message development, the AR team can certainly be the recipient of the fallout from a poorly executed message. As a consequence, at a minimum it is in AR’s best interest to communicate to the messaging team the reactions of the analysts. AR should also work to get included in any project to refresh and refine – i.e., fix – the message. One of the better approaches for AR is to convince the messaging team to engage the smartest trustworthy analysts as advisors and contributors to the message development.

Besides having a better message to present to the analysts, there are other positive outcomes of AR contributing to message development, especially when Continue reading

Time is running out for influencing Gartner’s Fall Symposia presentations

Logo - Symposium 2009Analysts creating presentations for the Fall Symposia series will need to submit their PowerPoint files to Editorial starting in late July or early August. So now is the time to make a last push to get your information and point-of-view across to your analysts.

It is important to remember that the push in July is focused on the physical presentation. There will be other activities required in late August to early October to influence the talking points used by the analysts during their speeches and 1-on-1s. See below to learn about staying top of mind at Symposium, which is the subject of August’s free AR Coffee Talk.

One of the trickier issues for AR to decide is how much information to provide in July under non-disclosure about major announcements planned for September or October. There is the obvious concern of leaks while presentations are a work in progress.  However, providing NDA information can subtly influence what is in the presentation or the approach the analyst takes to lay out market trends.  Just be clear about what is confidential and be up front about your concerns.  Analysts will appreciate the candor.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Immediately schedule inquiries with your top Gartner analysts to discuss
    • How their presentations are progressing
    • When the presentations are due to Editorial
    • What new opinions or changes from prior positions will likely be included
    • What type of customer stories, information, data or graphics does the analyst need that you might be able to help provide
  • Determine what you can realistically influence
  • Work with your extended AR team and domain experts to quickly develop written and graphical content to Continue reading

Who do you want telling your story, you or your competitors?

We recently came across a useful reminder in a blog post by a Forrester analyst:

“… <vendor> surprised many software industry veterans this morning with its acquisition of <vendor>. Why?  Well, <vendor>’s competitors have been spreading FUD that the company was out of cash, the company was in severe debt, and the company could not execute any more acquisitions. …” 

Of course you are shocked, SHOCKED!, that a vendor’s competitors would be whispering FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) in the ear of an analyst. Alas, while this not a common tactic because most vendors recognize the potential for blowback, it does happen often enough that analyst relations (AR) professionals should factor this into their plans.

Competitor FUD is most effective when the targeted vendor does not interact with analysts sufficiently to get their own messages and facts across. This is one of the reasons why SageCircle recommends that AR teams interact with their most relevant analysts early and often. Unfortunately, some vendors do not interact with vendors sufficiently due to either under investment in AR or poor AR practices. These companies need to recognize that insufficient AR means that they are potentially ceding the telling of their story to their competitors.

SageCircle Technique:

How do you get feedback when you do recorded training? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgAt yesterday’s workshop “Launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program” we had an interesting question about the use of non-live training for sales representatives.  The workshop participant asked how to go about getting feedback.  Feedback, comments, and student reactions can often help you tailor your training or understand areas that could be improved.  Of course this would also apply to any other recorded, web-based, or portal training or information that the AR team wants to deliver.  

There are two easy-to-implement approaches to this problem.  Perhaps the simplest solution is to create an email address such as:  AR@company.com.  You can direct sales (or others who listen to recorded training) to use this team address for questions, comments, and requests for information.  You can then put this at the end of any recorded training (e.g., MP3s) or add it to content you deliver via web streaming.  SageCircle has even created a specific space in its recorded training for sales representatives where we can insert a “For more information” comment that is tailored to your team.

Alternatively you can use technologies such as blogs or wikis for posting the recorded training, which provide a Continue reading

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