• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Some of the firms mentioned by the IIAR’s analyst team awards fall short of excellence. That’s the verdict of several hundred analysts who took our Analyst Attitude Survey, and of the CEO of one of the top analyst firms. Phil Fersht left the comment below on our criticism of the IIAR awards. We thought we’d reprint it together with the […]

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    The 2016 Institute for Industry Analyst Relations’ awards seem to be rewarding firms for the scale of their analyst relations, rather than their quality. In a blog post on July 6th, the IIAR awarded IBM the status of best analyst relations teams, with Cisco, Dell and HP as runners-up. Together with Microsoft, which outsources much of its analyst relations to […]

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

     It’s a common challenge for providers: some new or fast-changing market contains very different solutions. Clients want either apples or oranges, but the analyst research reads more like fruit salad. As new solutions come into old markets, or as analysts try to squeeze hot new solutions into their less-exciting coverage areas, it’s increasingly hard for users of analyst research to make […]

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Because a lot of analysts take part in our Analyst Attitude Surveys, we are able to offer clients what we call a control group. In the language of research, a control group is a group of people who don’t get the treatment that we want to measure the effectiveness of. For example, most firms might be focussed on a top tier […]

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Worldwide, Analyst Relations teams are committed to fostering the best information exchange, experiences and trusted relationships with tightly-targetted global industry analysts and influencers. Sometimes the targeting is too narrow and analysts are treated inhumanly. However, the technology buying process is transforming and so must the benchmarking of analyst relationships. There’s already a long-term transformation of analyst relations. Over one-third of technology […]

Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage

For IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams, a critical success factor is treating each IT industry analyst as an individual, not some faceless member of a crowd. For example, knowing that an analyst loathes PowerPoint presentations can be an important “ah ha!” to improving a briefing by eliminating an irritation. Similar “ah ha!”s can be gleamed by knowing where an analyst is in his or her career. There are three major stages in an analyst’s growth cycle which will impact how you deal with them: Novice, Luminary and Sage. Each stage has specific motivators and the analyst comes into discussions with vendors with specific ideas, techniques, and needs.

While critical for AR teams, it is also important for research consumers – end user or vendor – to understand if the analysts they are reading or doing inquiries with are Novices, Luminaries or Sages. Each growth stage can provide different types of insights and advice.

The Novice Analyst – Motivated by knowing what their clients don’t know

Being a Novice analyst should not be considered a negative by any means. Novice analysts generally have strong industry experience – usually focused in one segment; have a sharp intellect; can be very technical; can easily identify market trends; and are comfortable discussing (or repeating) technical data. Novice’s are on such a fast learning track – and are quickly exposed to so many vendors and alternative solutions – that they can be somewhat impressionable given the right technology or solution.

Vendors dealing with the Novice analysts should look at this as a great opportunity to influence future thought leaders. New information is the currency of choice – provide all that you can. Novice analysts want to know everything they can, as soon as they can. You need to treat the Novice with as much respect as the most seasoned analyst. Remember – in many analyst firms the Novice spends most of his or her time on the phone with clients – your clients – expressing their views about you and your competitors.

The Luminary Analyst – Motivated by knowing what their peers don’t know.

These analysts have been around the industry and the analyst ranks for quite some time and tend to ask great questions. They quickly see through vendor hype; have little patience for marketing messages; are experienced in multiple industry topics; and understand vendor expectations, objectives and motivators. They have a clear understanding of the market, its trends, and all associated data and are looked to provide strategic advice on not only products and services, but their impact on future markets.

Luminary analysts have moved beyond vendor and industry recognition, and now are looking for those areas or insights that have not been written about by their peers, or are so new that detailed coverage is in its infancy. Motivating the Luminary, especially for leading edge vendors, is driven by a strong intellectual relationship between key people on the vendor side (product development or corporate strategy executives) and the analyst. These analysts strive for early information – before the crowd gets it – that will help them keep ahead of the other analysts’ knowledge curve. Luminaries are not impressed with fancy presentations. Stick to the facts – it will go a long way in supporting your cause.

The Industry Sage – Motivated by knowing what you don’t know.

The Industry Sage analysts are few and far between, but have a significant impact on vendors and users every day. Generally they have both vendor and user experience; speak and give actionable advice at both tactical and strategic levels; can easily relate technical and business concepts to the highest level executives; are generally in very high demand, both within the firm and across the industry; and have a high degree of business acumen. Meetings with them are always valuable.

Industry Sage’s have refined skills developed from years in the IT industry, and years in the analyst community. Their reputation has already been built within their chosen sector, and firm, and they are continually building that reputation across the industry and their client base. In general you will not see as much written research from the Sage, as they are spending most of their time speaking to users, vendors, other analysts, or are traveling.

The Sage is rarely in information gathering mode, but is in information dissemination mode. As such, they need succinct updates to their mental databases. A Sage wants what is new about a vendor’s strategy (not tactics); what new things a vendor is hearing from the customers/clients and prospects; and what new major competitor appeared out of left field that the Vendor is worried about. 

These analysts are critical when developing a vision, or defining a strategy. Treat them well by asking for advice. And if you execute on it, let them know the results. Challenge their thinking, but position the discussion as an intellectual exercise or thought experiment rather than as two adversaries looking to win the day. The Sage analyst will continually bring an out of the box perspective to what were considered unsolvable or thorny issues, and relish the thought of solving strategic problems or shaping strategic direction for a company. The impact of the Industry Sage on your business can be critical.

SageCircle Technique: AR teams should start tracking the growth stage of their Tier 1 and, maybe, Tier 2 analysts. Then AR teams can start small changes to their interactions (e.g., modifying the type of information provided) that can have a big impact.

Bottom Line: Different drivers motivate the successful Novice, Luminary or Sage Analyst. Using these motivators at the appropriate time can make the difference between success and failure, between a vendor having an advocate for their cause, or having an indifferent observer. A positive result can mean increased sales, increased exposure, and perhaps a long term relationship with a key influencer in your market.  


  • Vendors – Do you segment your analyst lists and key contacts by their experience level?
  • Clients – Do you know how to gain access to the correct analysts for an inquiry?   
  • Analysts – Do you appreciate when a vendor meets your research needs correctly and how can you better assist them in understanding those needs?

Are you treating each analyst as an individual and tailoring your outreach to meet their individual requirements? SageCircle can help. Our strategists can:

  • Provide on-site or distance learning sessions to get AR teams up to speed on best practices such as how to determine if an analyst is a Novice, Luminary or Sage
  • Review your recent interactions to determine how you might have changed your approach if you knew the stage of the analyst
  • Critique your plans to ensure that you are touching on the individual needs of analysts in a practical manner that won’t drain too many resources
  • Act as a sounding board as you brainstorm the mix of interactions for each stage of analyst growth

Interested in an analyst relations checkup?  Want to know how you stack up against best-in-class AR best practices? Request a free SageCircle AR Diagnostic.  Give us a half hour of your time, answer some questions, then we provide you with a concise analysis of your program.

To learn more contact us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.

7 Responses

  1. […] Insights from the market – Analysts are always on the lookout what is happening in markets. Because emerging technology markets have fewer players – vendors and customers – it is harder for analysts to get updates through their normal vendor briefings and client inquiries. Startups can provide intelligence on the growth, stumbles, vertical industry adoption and competitive landscape that may not be available to the analyst in any other way.  These appeals to the analyst’s need to be ahead of their peers (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage). […]

  2. […] on the Analyst Hierarchy of Needs, we will examine how the stage of an analyst’s career (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage) can impact the […]

  3. […] to specific relationships. In the graphic to the right we illustrate that the level of analyst (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage) can have a dramatic impact on their relative needs relative to the level of the pyramid of needs […]

  4. […] the analyst stages post and the hierarchy of needs we blogged about recently (part one and two) you can see that the […]

  5. […] dependent on the level of experience of the analyst as well as your product or services maturity.  Novice analysts are far more likely to accept meetings even if not directly tied to their primary research, while a […]

  6. […] new/old role as analyst. For the past couple of years, Ted had stepped out the job of being a Sage analyst and into management, running Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® business. Once he got that […]

  7. […] Another point to be aware of when applying the Hierarchy of Needs to your analyst email distribution is emphasis changes depending on the analyst’s status. A Sage analyst will be significantly less tolerant of generic emails than a Novice analyst, who might appreciate the basic information (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage). […]

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