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

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

Give analysts time to think toward the end of an analyst consulting (SAS) day

A nifty idea we picked up from one of the participants at an AR Effectiveness seminar is to build private thinking time toward the end of an analyst consulting day (AKA “SAS day” using the Gartner term). This gives the analyst(s) an opportunity to reflect on everything they have heard in order to provide vendor participants with a crisp analysis on the topic at hand before they leave for the day.

Another benefit of building this time into the agenda is that it improves retention of the information the analyst was exposed to during the day. 

SageCircle Technique:

  • Include private thinking time into the agenda of an analyst consulting day. 30 minutes should be sufficient – this is in addition to some email phone time
  • This agenda item should be Continue reading

Defining “analyst consulting day”

Analyst consulting days are full-day engagements where a vendor spends a significant sum to get the use of one or more analysts. Analyst consulting days are not to be confused with projects by the analyst firms’ consulting groups, which often have little or no analyst contribution. There is a distinction between contracting for “analyst consulting time” and contracting with the consulting side of an analyst firm. “Analyst consulting time” refers to purchasing the time of an individual analyst, usually in one-day units. Contracting with the consulting side of an analyst firm usually refers to research projects with specific deliverables that are designed to meet the intelligence, strategy or marketing needs of a vendor company. Multi-client studies are common deliverables from the consulting side.

Gartner uses the term SAS (strategic advisory service) to describe analyst consulting days. While other firms use Continue reading

Why do analyst consulting days? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpg As was briefly mentioned in Strengths and weaknesses of analyst research delivery types, analyst consulting days (aka SAS or strategic advisory service in Gartnerese) have a high risk/reward profile for vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. After that post, we received a question from an AR practitioner asking why AR would want to spend the money on an analyst consulting day.

It is important to remember that building strong analyst relationships requires a mix of interaction types.  You cannot achieve your objectives using only briefings and inquiry. Consulting days can have significant benefits when done correctly.  Because there are different reasons for purchasing analyst consulting days from the firms, vendors need to clarify the goals they want to pursue through buying consulting days. The shotgun approach of “we’ll just throw some more money at them by buying consulting time” rarely succeeds in genuinely increasing an analyst’s positive perception of a vendor.

The various reasons why vendors choose to do consulting days vary in real value:

  • To build stronger relationships with key analysts
          – Rating: high value
  • To do a Deep Dive-style uninterrupted briefing
          – Rating: none to high value
  • To have a high profile marketing event speaker
          – Rating: Continue reading
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