Tool for Sales – The Prospect Profile Form

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThe analysts possess a wealth of information that can help vendor sales organizations better understand their prospects. The question is how to get the information from the analysts. SageCircle has put together a simple process and checklist that AR can use to conduct a structured inquiry with key analysts to collect and organize important information about your prospects. The process is simple. Schedule an inquiry with one or two of your Tier 1 analysts (with whom you have Inquiry privileges). Use the questions on the Prospect Profile checklist to gather information from the analyst and enter the responses into the form. After finishing the inquiry, complete the form and forward it to sales.

There are two main categories of input that you are looking for: “Analyst’s Perceptions about the Prospect or its Peer Group” and “Analyst’s Perceptions about Your Differentiation in this Situation.” Within each main category there are sub questions like market, prospect and business challenges. 

Besides obtaining valuable information and insights for your sales teams, using this technique is also a great way to improve your relationships with key analysts. As we mentioned Continue reading

What is the business value of inquiry for vendors

icon-phone-headset.jpgSageCircle promotes the use of inquiry and we have offered suggestions on various topics for both Enterprise IT research consumers and Communications and IT vendors.  In general, vendors spend far less time doing inquires than they should.  This both decreases the business value they are receiving from the analyst contract and misses some important soft dollar benefits that are hard to achieve in other ways. Not getting value from the inquiry contract also contributes to the perception of some vendor executives that advisory analysts like Gartner and Forrester are “pay for play,” otherwise why spend the money on the annual contract.   In this post we will look less at the techniques and more at the realized benefits of a program of regular analyst inquiry.

Gaining real information

The stated purpose for inquires is to gain greater depth and understanding of an analyst’s research and opinions.  As always, you should review the currently published materials before scheduling a briefing.  However, inquiry can provide insights into an analysts’ work-in-progress and allow you to Continue reading

Research consumer’s turn — How industry analysts can be better prepared for inquiries

icon-phone-headset.jpgFor the most part the SageCircle blog concentrates how various members of the tech analyst ecosystem interact more effectively with the analysts (e.g., AR best practices and research consumer tips). This post is an experiment to give the community a chance to give a few friendly tips to the analysts.

SageCircle heavily encourages the use of inquiry for both communications and IT vendor AR teams and end-user client researcher consumers.  While most analysts are well prepared for inquires we have personally experienced and received comments from members of the analyst ecosystem about those analysts that might have needed a bit more coffee before getting on the phone. One not so amusing story is the analyst who could not discuss the research he had written, could not remember writing it and Continue reading

For IT managers – It’s “Praise Your Vendor” Inquiry Day

icon-phone-headset.jpgNow for something completely different… offering the analysts a vendor compliment in lieu of a complaint. Advisory analysts at major firms build their opinions based more on client feedback than on research evaluations. They generally do not do lab analysis or specific competitive research.  That means that the perceptions they have of the products may be more highly colored by negative customer comments heard during client phone-based inquiries than reality would suggest. 

SageCircle Technique:  My suggestion to IT managers is that you Continue reading

Using inquiry… Influence the analysts’ research agenda

icon-phone-headset.jpgWe have repeated stressed the importance of inquiry, both from the role of the vendor and that of the research consumer.  Obviously it can be used to obtain information as well as inform the analyst.  Another aspect of inquiry is the use of it to influence the research agenda of an analyst or a firm on behalf of either IT clients or vendors.

From the IT client perspective it can be very valuable to align the research agenda in the direction of your specific research needs.  Analysts rate client inquiry highly in understanding the market direction.  Your questions and observations, coupled with those of other clients, often cause shifts in the planned Continue reading

Potential analyst inquiry topics for IT and communications vendors

icon-phone-headset.jpgSageCircle constantly recommends that communications and IT vendors take advantage of their inquiry privileges with analysts and actively work this activity into their interactions plan.  In last Saturday’s post (click here) we encouraged startups to use inquiry and suggested some techniques that are valid for all vendors.

Inquiries are a great way to stay “top of mind” with your key analysts between major events or announcements.  In addition, you can use inquiry to enhance the analyst relationship as long as you avoid idle chit-chat and ask questions of substance. 

Some potential topics that might be appropriate for a vendor inquiry with an analyst might include  Continue reading

Startups, when was the last time you did an inquiry? [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgStartups agonize about buying analyst services – influenced by the myth that analysts are pay-to-play – but then underutilize what they bought. As we always say, it is what you do with the contract that gets you the benefit, not the act of writing a check.

One of the biggest crimes is not using that retainer-based analyst service (e.g., Gartner Core Research or Forrester WholeView) that you spent the big bucks to Continue reading

Do’s about using analyst research

icon-phone-headset.jpgLast week we posted some “dont’s” about using analyst written research, so it seems appropriate to follow up with some positive actions for how to use the research and recommendations from the industry analysts.

Contrary to popular belief, IT market researchers and advisory analysts do not do either lab-based product evaluations or take an academic ivory tower approach and think great thoughts in isolation. Rather, the primary research tool is talking: talking to clients, vendors, investors, and the press – the people on the front lines of creating and using technology. Doing client inquiries is not only a way to deliver client service, but also one of the best research sources that analysts have available. Every inquiry provides an analyst the opportunity to find out why a client has some vendors on or off the evaluation list, how the product they installed earlier is working out, how good the vendor’s service has been, and so on. By gathering hundreds of data points from a number of sources, analysts can quickly use pattern analysis to determine what is happening in a market or with a vendor. Knowing how this research methodology works gives research clients insights into how they can better use analyst research, either written or spoken.

For consumers of analyst research an important question to ask analysts break during an inquiry is “What are the sources of information and number of Continue reading

Analysts don’t know? Ask them to ask around. [Inquiry]

icon-phone-headset.jpgDespite Myth #1 (The analysts know everything), there are times when clients, end users or vendors, can stump the analysts with a question. While some analysts will use a great question as a trigger to do research and come up with an answer, others distracted by deadlines or travel won’t think to pursue your issue. Obviously if the question is very company specific you might need to commission special research.  However, if the issue is of general enough concern to multiple vendors, other clients, or the market in general it is up to you to make sure Continue reading

Will the analysts drive down IT spending? Not if you talk to them.

In Saturday’s New York Times Business Day section there was a reassuring article by Steve Lohr called Belt-Tightening, but No Collapse, Is Forecast in Technology Spending. Reassuring because the IT executives and industry analysts interviewed all indicated that there was less likelihood that IT spending was going to be slashed like during the 2001 recession. Whew, it looks like the IT market will dodge the bullet this time! However this relief could be short lived if the IT analysts turn negative and start counseling their IT buyer clients to be conservative and cut spending.

What could turn the IT analysts negative on spending? The analysts could flip their opinion if all they hear are the concerns and fears of budget cuts from nervous IT executives. As explained Continue reading

For IT managers — It’s “Praise Your Vendor” Inquiry Day

icon-phone-headset.jpgNow for something completely different… offering the analysts a vendor compliment in lieu of a complaint. Advisory analysts at major firms build their opinions based more on client feedback than on research evaluations. They generally do not do lab analysis or specific competitive research.  That means that the perceptions they have of the products may be more highly colored by negative customer comments heard during client phone-based inquiries than reality would suggest. 

SageCircle Technique:  My suggestion to IT managers is that you Continue reading

How to break analysts out of auto-pilot inquiry responses

icon-phone-headset.jpgAnalysts who cover really popular topics can answer the same question over-and-over to the point where they go on auto-pilot. This means delivering basically the same information and advice regardless of the client’s situation. This is especially true for end-user or IT manager inquiries. Back when I was a Gartner VP & Research Fellow covering CRM, I once counted up 300 inquiries in a short time all asking me to compare and contrast the same three leading vendors. My eyes would glaze over as soon as the appointment reminder popped up for yet the next inquiry on the three amigos. So how do you ensure that the analyst is not on auto-pilot? Provide background on your situation and ask drill down questions. Continue reading

Best practices for client inquiry execution

icon-phone-headset.jpgWhether IT managers at corporate/government organizations or product managers at IT vendors, many analyst clients do not maximize the value of client inquiry because they do not approach using inquiries systematically. The best practice below does not require a lot of time, only a few minutes to write up the background e-mail, but can result in a much more valuable interaction because the client and the analyst come to the call more focused.
 
SageCircle Technique: Continue reading

Using analyst inquiry… Find out what’s heating up and what’s cooling off

icon-phone-headset.jpgOne of the assets that well-connected analysts have is their many anecdotal data points gleamed from day-to-day conversations.  While not statistically valid, doing pattern analysis on these questions can reveal some interesting insights into emerging trends and issues falling off the radar screen. The problem from a research consumer point-of-view is that these data points are locked inside the head of the analysts* and are rarely the focus of a research note. To get to that information, clients need to use inquiry.
 
SageCircle Technique:
Continue reading

Using analyst inquiry… Dig into press reports

icon-phone-headset.jpgThere have been a number of reprints of the Associated Press story Growth of global technology spending is expected to slow in 2008 that report that the “Big 3” analyst firms (i.e., Forrester, Gartner and IDC) are forecasting reduced spending on information technology. This is potentially useful data for both IT departments and tech vendors, but frankly macroeconomic numbers like these are useless because they are too high level and generic. Today is a perfect time to use your analyst client inquiry privileges to get insights into how these data can be applied to your company’s or division’s situation and generate actionable advice. Some example inquiries by community sector:
 

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