This best practice comes from guest contributor Gerry Van Zandt (Twitter handle), AR manager with HP Services.
Often (as you know) analysts will provide drafts of research notes or event-reaction pieces to vendors to review for inaccuracies. You have a limited opportunity to provide a response or comment and need a process for action. Here are tips on how best to respond to draft research:
- Be prompt — Help the analyst(s) by meeting the often very tight deadline they are providing for feedback. Respect the analyst’s business and don’t try to buy more time or delay by asking for an extension.
- Check facts — Analysts will always want to ensure all facts and figures are correct, and will generally take vendor input and corrections here (for example, for revenue or employee data) unless they have additional, reliable sources. If the facts are totally correct be sure to tell them and thank them for their accuracy.
- Be reasonable — Provide reasonable commentary and adjustments to analyst statements that you or your firm may not agree with. Don’t expect analysts to change their statements wholesale based on your comments or proposed corrections. If you take strong issue with an analyst’s statement or viewpoint, back up your response with facts and/or customers who can help reinforce your comments.
- Set and manage internal expectations — If you get notice via a draft research note (Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, Navigator, SWOT, etc.) that your organization may not be rated as highly as you (or your executives) feel it should, you should prepare them as soon as possible and seek to mitigate potential negative impact among customer base or prospects. This does not mean issuing a press release or other public statement, but rather preparing talking points or other credible information that can be disseminated internally and to your field team to help prepare them. Do this as soon as possible and BEFORE the research becomes publicly available. If the research is appropriately positive you should prepare talking points and/or a silver bullet document for sales.
- Manage executive response appropriately — If executives take strong issue with published research, discourage them from calling the analyst on the phone and venting. Rather, set up an inquiry through your account-team channels, and sit down with your executive(s) to rationally prepare a response. Seek to provide alternative viewpoints or provide additional references from customers that can reinforce your position. Conduct the meeting as a conversation and do not point fingers or reactive negatively. Use the discussion as a vector to improving the relationship, and find out from the analyst what he/she feels your firm needs to be doing better.
- Close the loop — Distill the research and provide analyst feedback back into the executive ranks of the company, where it can do the most good in terms of decision-making.
Update: Here is what two Twittering analysts commented about when it came to AR responding to draft research. Not good.
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Bottom Line: Being asked to review draft analyst research is a golden opportunity to strengthen relationship and develop credibility as a go-to resource for acting as a sounding board for new ideas, not just ensuring the facts are right. AR managers should give every draft research review request a high priority and provide valuable, non-self serving comments.
Question: AR managers – Do you give responding to analyst draft research a high priority? Do you approach the task in an ad hoc manner or do you have a set process you follow?