What I've learned about Analyst Relations, or Some Guidelines to do the Job Correctly
I’ve been going about my business of analyst relations for a while now, but a recent event told me all vendors are not the same when it comes to this job.
We are in the middle of a Partner Survey with one of the big 3 right now, and we were sent a questionnaire to fill out. We dutifully filled it out, having taken up the better part of a week and a half of 4 persons time to do so. We answered in as complete detail as was asked and it came to 20 pages. We then had a 2 hour briefing to go over our program with the lead analyst. We figured that our questionnaire was self explanatory and decided to concentrate on the highlights of our program via a presentation, and to counter what we felt the competition would ding us on.
My first question was how would this analyst be able to read 14 twenty page questionnaire’s from the vendors. Reality set in for me as the analyst stated that we were the only company to fill it out, with possibly one other company that might. He explained that most answered the questions on the call. This to me was underperforming on the job. You have the opportunity to do what we did in highlighting your good points, and still have the answers to the program written out. Were I the analyst, I would have docked points just for style right there.
Maybe it’s naive of me to think this, but aren’t you supposed to do not only what is expected, but to try to give above and beyond? on your yearly rating report?
So here is what I’ve learned.
Not all AR programs are dedicated to Analyst Relations. Many companies have a communications person to do multiple disciplines. This to me is acceptable in a small company, but many of those other major vendors are multi billion dollar firms. You should have a dedicated a/r team if you are serious about analyst relations. I’ve worked in PR. It’s a balls to the wall stressed out job that leaves little time for other matters, especially at deadline time.
We have to go out of our way to answer what the analyst needs. When they ask us for information, we are obligated to get it for them, in a complete manner unless it violates corporate guidelines. We should be up front about that too if it is the reason for not answering. If they take the time to develop a questionnaire, or ask us questions, we need to find the answers or the right executive to answer the question.
We have to understand what the analyst wants and try to think outside the box to get that done, try to provide what they are looking for and make it easy for them to understand. You get a free pass for not knowing everything when you first take a job, but pretty quickly you had better understand what the area you are responsible for is and does. The analyst may not understand exactly how your group works, so you have to either find a way (or a person) to explain it, or figure out what they are looking for and find a way to get it.
Get the right executive who can answer the question. Don’t waste anybody’s time by just putting someone on the phone. Get the most qualified person to answer the question. Unless the analyst demands to speak to certain person, it’s not his/her responsibility to know your org chart.
Other rants about performing.
If you’re in an MQ, Wave or some other form of “bake off” comparison, figure out what your group does better and highlight it. Conversely, figure out what the competition does better and be ready to counter it.
Go a little further than the other guy. This goes with figuring out what the analyst is looking for. Present it in a factual way that shows your best side. Don’t just do what you are asked and think you are done. Anyone can do the minimum.
Skip the fluff. Analysts are smart people and know their subject, for sure a whole lot smarter than most AR people, and better than a lot of executives. They’ll see right through this one and yes, you are wasting there time. Save the marketing pitch for others.
So I’m calling out our profession (I’m tempted to say this loosely after what I heard this week) to do a better job. Just doing your job isn’t enough.