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 the full session. Especially when on the road, analysts will be tempted to cut the client SAS day short for travel purposes or to go on sales calls with the firm’s local sales team. AR professionals in charge of the SAS engagement must be firm with their expectations to receive a full measure of time from the analyst. This includes when the analyst is a guest speaker at a marketing event. AR should fill up the rest of the analyst’s day and not let them show up, give a one-hour speech and then leave.
- Give analysts time to think toward the end of an analyst consulting (SAS) day
- Why do analyst consulting days? [AR Practitioner Question]
(1) SAS stands for Strategy Advisory Session and is Gartner’s label for an analyst consulting day. The phrase “SAS day” has become common shorthand that many AR professionals use when discussing analyst consulting days (much like how “Xerox” has become a generic term for photocopying). It is recommended that AR teams avoid using the term SAS with non-Gartner analysts.
- Be clear about your goals for the analyst consulting day
- Structure the engagement to achieve those goals
- Make certain that you get the analyst you really want
- Conduct phone inquiries before and after the engagement to manage expectations
- Ruthlessly drive value – it’s your day
Bottom Line: SAS days can be incredibly useful or painful failures. There is only one way to ensure success and that is for AR to take complete charge and drive the process from beginning to end.
Question: Analysts – Does your firm have a formal process to drive client value from analyst consulting days? AR- Do you have experiences with analysts not delivering value for a SAS day?
Don’t have a process for SAS days? SageCircle’s Online SageContent™ Library and Training can get You Up-to-Speed Fast and Efficiently
SageCircle has proven best practices, tools (e.g., check lists and decision frameworks) and advice for maximizing SAS days. For example, why “re-invent the wheel” when the Online SageContent Library has six articles and twelve check lists – downloadable in Word format – ready to go?
Index – Analyst Consulting Days
- What is an analyst consulting day?
- Potential goals for a consulting day?
- What motivates analysts?
- Picking the right firm and analyst
- Negotiating and Setting Expectations
- Tips for Successful Execution
Beyond the ready-to-use content in the Library, SageCircle also has training on “Effective SAS (Analyst Consulting) Days,” which is delivered as a public webinar or AR Team Briefing scheduled just for your team. This 90-minute session was developed to provide actionable, practical best practices in a short and succinct manner. There is ample time for questions and answers to complement the presentation.
But wait, there’s more! SageCircle Advisory offerings give clients access to our strategists to obtain advice on a variety of SAS related topics, such as:
- Reviewing plans, agenda and execution steps
- Educating participants on the best practice for creating content and being a spokesperson
- Critiquing presentations
- Negotiating with firms and analysts
To learn more about how SageCircle can help you save time, save money, reduce aggravation while maximizing value of SAS days, please contact us at 503-636-1500 or “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com”.
I’m not aware of a “formal process” per se. However, individual, AR-driven prep meetings with the internal folks attending the paid consulting engagement and the analyst team attending the engagement are de rigeur.
To optimize success, I’d also schedule a joint phone call between the internal and analyst attendees a day or two in advance of the engagement to review the agenda, schedule, and objectives for the engagement. This has the additional benefit of shortening the “introduction” phase of the consulting engagement and allowing all parties to get down to business faster.
I’d say that much more of the onus relies on the AR + exec team to spell out — well in advance — TO the analysts WHAT they need or want to get out of the engagement. That way the analysts can respond with what is possible — what they can and can’t do.
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