How many Tier 1 analysts can be supported by an AR professional? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: We are heading into our annual planning process (or preparing to revise our analyst list) and want to know if there is a rule of thumb for how many Tier 1 analysts per AR headcount?

A common question SageCircle receives is what is the rule of thumb for how many Tier 1 analysts that an AR professional can effectively support? Sometimes it is within the context of an AR planning exercise or because we had gone through our litany that for analyst lists “you rank on relevance and tier based on AR resources.” Inevitably the next question after that is “Ok, how many Tier 1s can a team of my size support?”

Up to this point we always gave a very firm and definitive answer of “it depends.” There are so many variables to calculating this answer that we could not – would not – give a hard-and-fast rule of thumb because it would be misleading. So what are some of these variables? A small, very small, subset includes:

  • What is your service level framework for each analyst tier?
  • What standard activities per month do you want to do with each Tier 1 analyst?
  • How many full time equivalents are on the staff?
  • How many Magic Quadrants and Waves are you on?
  • How complete is your measurement program and who does the data collection?
  • How many general briefings do you plan on giving in an average time period?
  • Et cetera

Frankly, the “it depends” answer was honest and best, but unsatisfactory. So we analyzed the question and determined that it is possible to estimate the number of Tier 1 analysts per AR headcount. And the answer is… you have to create a spreadsheet that captures the variables and crunches the data. There still is not a magic rule of thumb that will tell the average AR team what the ratio is because there is no truly average AR team. While this is a non-trivial exercise, AR teams should be able to develop a tool with sufficient skull sweat and effort.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Create a service level framework that defines what services AR will be providing each analyst tier
  • Create an analyst list management framework that defines the criteria that will be used to identify and rank analysts
  • Create a standard approach for supporting Tier 1 analysts (e.g., number of interactions per month, executive buddy program and so on)
  • Identify the average number of administrative tasks that each AR team member has to perform
  • Identify the major initiatives (e.g., ongoing outreach, executive buddy program, number of Magic Quadrants) and hours required to accomplish each initiative
  • Create a spreadsheet that calculates the number of hours available, the number of hours required for standard tasks and calculates the number of Tier 1 analysts per AR headcount

Bottom Line: Determining the number of Tier 1 analysts an AR team can handle is an important task because it can be used to set executive sponsor expectations as well as setting AR team assignments. While it requires work, the ROI is high because of its use as a management and executive sponsor tool.

Question: AR – Do you have a rule of thumb for how many Tier 1 analysts you can support? If so, how do you calculate it? 

Like this idea, but don’t have the resources to do work creating a tool? SageCircle can help.


SageCircle has developed a SageTool™ that does the job of capturing the most relevant variables and permits clients to enter in a few simple data points. It then crunches the data entered by clients and calculates the ratio based on the specific situation at the client’s company. It is available to Online SageContent™ Library seat holders and Advisory clients. If you are interested in accessing this SageTool, please contact SageCircle at “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com” or 503-636-1500.