• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    Your pitch to analysts isn’t just about your solution

    Your pitch to analysts isn’t just about your solution

    In pitches to analysts, there are many conversations going on. At one level, there’s a communication about the business solution. There’s also a conversation about the wider market and about the personal credibility of the participants. Sometimes the slides used in pitches are just excuses for the interaction. The slides are used to assess both the market vision of the firm and the […]

    KPMG pushes out 451 in 2017 Strategy Analyst Firm Awards

    KPMG pushes out 451 in 2017 Strategy Analyst Firm Awards

    For the strategic heavy lifting, executives are reaching out to a very wide range of advisors. Gartner heads up the list when we look at the Analyst Value Survey data to find the analyst firms most valued by people who work on strategy. It creates almost 19% of all the value being produced by analyst services around strategy (If CEB, […]

    Save the date for our Analyst Firm Awards

    Save the date for our Analyst Firm Awards

    This year we’re publishing our analyst firm awards more or less monthly. Please put the dates in your diary. If you’re a subscriber to the Analyst Firm Awards, you can also access a webinar for each of these events, held on the final Thursday or each month. January – Global January 18 – Outstanding reports February 17 – Strategy March 15 – Internet […]

    IDC could flourish after IDG’s sale to Chinese consortium

    IDC could flourish after IDG’s sale to Chinese consortium

    As we predicted in our April Fool’s Joke last year, IDC has been sold as part of a Chinese-led purchase that leaves CEO Kirk Campbell at the helm. IDG Capital will take control of the IDG Ventures; China Oceanwide will control IDG and most of IDC, and an independent trustee will take control of IDC’s High Performance Computing (HPC) practice, […]

    Kea Company acquires UK analyst relations consultancy Active Influence

    Kea Company acquires UK analyst relations consultancy Active Influence

    Merger consolidates Kea Company’s position as world’s largest analyst relations consultancy January 19, 2017. London — Kea Company, the world’s largest analyst relations consultancy, today completed its acquisition of Active Influence. Founded in 2010, Active Influence has helped many of the world’s largest technology companies to gain measurable business benefit from their relationships with analyst firms. Founder Richard East has become […]

Analysts need to chill out and don’t get so emotional about “tiering”

Note: An earlier version of this post showed up as a comment on ARmadgeddon, which was later elevated to a full post. Then I posted a version on my former employer’s corporate AR blog. However, this is a topic that still generates heat so we are now posting it on the SageCircle blog to stimulate discussion.

AR and analyst blogs that begin with vigorous discussions about tiering often end in flame wars. The loudest protesters are usually smaller analyst firms and single practitioners who believe that the practice of tiering slights and excludes them.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

There is no generally accepted definition of what “tier” means in the context of the analyst industry, so let me offer some points to get the discussion started and lance the boil of negative emotions around this concept.

At SageCircle we promote the best practice of “rank then tier” industry analysts. This is a two-step process. An analyst list is ranked based on relevance to what the vendor is trying to accomplish and then tiered based on available AR resources.  Let’s analyst each part of that sentence.

“Trying to Accomplish” – Hopefully the AR team is aligned with its company’s or business group’s strategy and marketing goals, which will in part indicate which analysts are relevant. Strategy and marketing are not set in stone, so when they change, the analyst list and ranking can change, sometimes dramatically.  AR teams need to review their lists frequently to ensure they continue to align with the company goals.

“Ranking” – Can be based entirely or partly on how directly the analyst covers a market or topic, size of their client base, overlap of the analyst’s client base with the vendor’s customer or prospect bases, visibility in the press or new media, public events she speaks at, demonstrated impact on sales deals and so on. Ranking criteria are subject to change over time and should also be reviewed.

“Tiered based on AR resources” – This is the tricky part and often not addressed. Not every vendor has sufficiently invested in AR staff to handle all analysts who want attention. As a consequence, the AR team has to focus on only those analysts it has the resources to support appropriately. If one spreads the peanut butter too thin, then nothing is accomplished. This is no different than segmenting the customer base.  Sales provides dedicated teams to strategic accounts, others customers share the same sales rep and other customers are supported by a telesales call center. There are only so many resources to spread around.

Now look at this example of how the process works.  You can click on the graphic to enlarge it. In market A, 15 analysts cover the market. An AR team has ranked the analysts 1 through 15 based on their relevance to the vendor’s objectives. Because the AR team consists of a single individual, the number of tier 1 analysts is 5. If the vendor decides to hire another AR professional – doubling this team – it leads to a doubling of tier 1 analysts. It is not that analysts 6 to 10 on the list suddenly got smarter or more influential, but that the AR team now has more resources to reach out to more analysts.

Bottom Line: If an analyst is told or suspects that they are not “Tier 1,” rather than getting mad I highly recommend they get more information. Ask about how the analyst list was created, which criteria were used, and how those criteria were weighted, and so on. You might discover this was not an arbitrary decision to disrespect you, but reflects a very dispassionate approach. It is also possible the AR team is not fully educated about what you cover or your publication schedule and thus does not have the appropriate data points for ranking your relevance.

Question: Analysts – How do you react if you suspect that an AR team considers you Tier 2 or 3? AR Teams – Do you have a systematic approach to ranking and tiering analysts?


4 Responses

  1. Since you asked . . . I think if as a 2-person analyst shop I believed I was a “tier-one” analyst firm to large vendors or F500 companies I would be delusional. My goal isn’t to be a “tier-one” analyst, but to be recognized as a leading independent analyst in my coverage area (the Immersive Internet).

  2. […] Analyst Relations, “Identify”, and the team has developed a standardized process for ranking and tiering analysts, and has a set of tools for list management, then it should be relatively easy to ignore […]

  3. […] on which analysts should be included or excluded from a list, not on ranking and tiering (see here for that […]

  4. Carter,

    I think you’re overselling the virtues of rigidity here. If an analyst is quoted in major trade press without ever having been briefed — or without feeling she was briefed adequately — you probably didn’t rank her high enough. The number of firms who’ve contacted the past few months right after seeing me comment about them is pretty high, and the contacting step is not where they went wrong.

    What’s more, as the trade press moves online, analysts are playing roles directly comparable to those of traditional journalists. I write for both Network World and Intelligent Enterprise. Two of the blogs I own and operate are also leading sources in their respective fields.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: