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
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