Industry Analyst Relations

Dos and Don’ts when interacting with analysts

Although analyst relations is now a major element of tech marketing, many spokespeople mis-step in analyst briefings. Gartner’s research shows that the average high tech solutions provider is now spending 11% of its revenue on marketing.

IDC’s technology marketing tracker shows that around 3% of that marketing spend goes on media relations, and 1.5% on analyst relations. That means the average technology solutions provider is spending around half a percent of its total revenue on media and analyst relations. That’s a big investment, but the benefits hinge on the ability of spokespeople to shift the most influential analysts’ perceptions. Here are our top five do’s and don’ts for making the most of an analyst briefing.

Do: Use these points to prepare for the briefing

  1. Be conversational: no monologues. Please try to keep the briefing as a conversation rather than one-way presentation. This will engage the analyst and provide insights that we might not have been aware of before. To aid that, plan to share presentations with analysts in advance. If the analyst can review your slides before the briefing, then the conversation starts at a much higher level.
  2. Review insights from earlier briefings. Connect up what you want to say with the last discussion with the analyst. Make sure you know the sort of questions the analyst is likely to ask.
  3. Aim for more, smaller, interactions. It’s important to communicate throughout the year. For example, if you wait for the annual Magic Quadrant data collection to start, you have already lost the opportunity to reshape categories and taxonomies.
  4. Use the analyst’s jargon, not yours. Do understand when you need to translate your firm’s vocabulary into each analyst firm’s language, especially about taxonomies and categories. For example, a vendor might think a broker is a provisioning dashboard, but the analyst might think it’s messaging middleware. Even if we are challenging their definitions, we need to understand and translate to avoid talking at cross-purposes.
  5. Agree topics for next briefings. Do agree on goals for the next conversation. Ask them what they are working on next, would like to hear more about and when they would like to continue the conversation. Your strategy should focus on the next step in winning the analyst over. One briefing can’t take someone all the way to passionate advocate, so start from where they are now and lead them forward. As long as you and the analyst cover the key points for this briefing, many complex follow-up questions can be held over to a later conversation. For example, it is OK to say that you need to double check or you need to confirm and get back to the analyst If you are not sure of any figures or answers.

Don’t: make these common mistakes

  1. Forget your history with the analyst. Don’t go into a briefing without knowing the history between your firm and this analyst. Building a relationship means picking up from the last conversation, not ’50 First Dates’.
  2. Proceed if questions are unaddressed. The rule of thumb is: pause if the analyst has something to say. We want conversation and to gain insight from the analyst. Pause regularly to see if there are comments or questions. If you are in an online call, look for the analyst un-muting themselves: that means they have something to say. If the analyst has something to say, listen to it and then either answer or agree to follow up.
  3. Make overblown, unsupported claims. Please don’t use overblown language that the analyst will be provoked by such as ‘ our product is unique on the market’ or ‘our services are one of a kind’
  4. Mark entire presentation as confidential. Do make it clear what the analyst can and cannot share. If something is currently confidential, you can mention to the analyst that you are sharing the information under embargo or NDA. We need to make it very clear what the analyst can refer to and share publicly and what is only for her or his sole use. We recommend you do not mention customers by name unless they have allowed it (it could get back to them). For example if your customer is Bank of America, you can refer to them as a ‘large financial institution in the US’. On the other hand, make sure that what you do in the public domain is not marked as confidential. In particular, don’t use your footer to mark your entire presentation as being confidential until it really is. We want analysts to be able to discuss your solution with their clients, so make sure they understand what they can and cannot share.
  5. Let salespeople link outcomes to spending. Don’t link research outcomes to commercial relationships, and don’t let analyst firm salespeople attempt to. The only thing that shifts reputable analysts is information, although some salespeople will work hard to give you the opposite impression.

Written by Duncan Chapple


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