Don’t listen to the squeaks when managing your analyst list

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is one of the hoariest clichés in the culture. When applied to building and managing analyst lists, it is also incredibly dangerous. 

Just because an analyst demands a briefing, access to your executives, or whatever, it does not mean that they should get it. What becomes difficult for analyst relations (AR) is when an analyst that is not getting what they want starts squeaking in order to get attention. The squeaks could be in the form of intemperate quotes in the press, back channel complaining to your executives, or other such actions. Their goal is to be annoying enough to get the briefing or the contract they want.

If AR is committed to the first of The 5 I’s of 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 the squeaks. Even an executive who is pushing for including an analyst on a list because of a few press quotes will likely concede that the analyst does not belong when presented with AR’s list methodology and audit trail. When it comes to tools, you can have a simple Word list with a list of analysts, their ranking and why. Or you can have something as detailed as SageCircle’s “Analyst List Workbook” SageToolTM which gives you the ability to do “what-if” analysis by playing with the weights of criteria (click on graphic for a larger version of the workbook section for setting criteria weights).

AR teams that do not have a formal methodology and tools will often find themselves with an ever shifting analyst list based more on emotion and squeaks. An unstable analyst list makes it difficult to focus on the most relevant and important analysts.  This focus is critical for an AR team to achieve its objectives.

BTW, it is not just single practitioner and boutique firms analysts that are squeaky wheels. Analysts at the largest firms like Gartner and IDC can be just as squeaky. Automatically adding large firm analysts to your list is quite dangerous because they will crowd out more relevant analysts from boutiques.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Develop a standard approach to creating and maintaining analyst lists
  • Include weights for criteria like firm affiliation, coverage focus, visibility, role-based influence and objectivity
  • Identify the company, business group, and team objectives that will focus team actions
  • Generate tools that will help you rate analysts based on the criteria and provide an audit trail
  • Create boilerplate email text to diplomatically explain to analysts why you are not able to meet their requests at this time
  • Be ruthless to sticking to the analyst list and not make ad hoc changes to grease a squeaky wheel

Want more information and SageTools? SageCircle Advisory clients can use inquiry to have a strategist present our methodology on how to create and maintain analyst lists, discuss how to use ARchitect’s “analyst group” function, review existing analyst lists and other related topics. Best practices and tools for download are also available in the Online SageContentTM Library.

Bottom Line: It is tempting for AR teams to give in to the demands of squeaky wheels, but that short term relief from the annoyance can lead to mid-term or even short term disaster as more relevant analysts do not get the attention they deserve. AR has to be systematic in the management of its analyst lists and disciplined in adhering to them.

Question: Do you have examples of squeaky wheels?



  1. I appreciate who you’re writing for Carter, I really do. But what about the flipside – those vendors that refuse to engage in any way with squeaky wheels, especially when they don’t work for one of the big 2. That’s not a good strategy either. Sometimes squeaky wheels have a point, or perhaps a good idea, or even heaven forbid, influence with a potential buyer.

  2. Hi James, Thanks for the comment.

    A “squeaky wheel” is an analyst who is not relevant to the vendor’s or AR’s objectives and makes a nuisance of themselves by demanding resources.

    If an analyst is relevant they are not a squeaky wheel.

    Would you want a non-relevant Gartner analyst crowd out Redmonk for access to an open source software vendor executive’s attention just because s/he squeaks loudly?

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