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What I've learned about Analyst Relations, or Some Guidelines to do the Job Correctly

September 12, 2006

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.

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From → Analyst

8 Comments
  1. So, either you are going to come off best in the report, or you were a sucker for being the only one to fill out the survey. Time will tell. 😉

  2. Rick permalink

    So much of analyst relations focuses on the second word… “relations”. Building trust and good will with the analysts results from them knowing that you are providing them with what they need to to what they need to do. As long as you aren’t disclosing information that violates company policy then responding to the survey and also taking advantage of the telephone call to provide additional context and commentary was the correct move. Those competing vendors that passed on the opportunity were the ones that made the mistake.

    That said, the analysts themselves must step up to the responsibility of creating research (and research mechanisms like surveys) that are offer return on investment. In the past I have declined such approaches since the ROI was not there. Analysts need to be as realistic and respectful of the vendors’ time as we need to be of theirs.

    btw, enjoy reading the blog…

  3. Tom permalink

    I understand that you don’t want to insult the analyst community, but as a tech analyst myself, I can say that there a large number that are not “smart people and know their subject, for sure a whole lot smarter than most AR people, and better than a lot of executives.”

    I’ve sat next to colleagues as they have made the most inane comments about something they had little exposure to, while the vendors who are knee-deep in the project have to grin and bear it in the name of analyst influence. Panels are the worst — you get so-called experts who say the most ridiculous things with no evidence to back up their claims. The big IBM analyst get togethers in New York showcase the wide range of analyst intelligence, market knowledge, personalities, and other characteristics. I have often had more fun and interesting conversations having a beer with the AR team members than with my fellow tech analysts.

    Yes, there are smart and unbiased analysts. They are easy to spot. But there are also ego-driven dumb ones. Perhaps the toughest are the ego-driven smart ones, because they know the subject but inject heir personality and personal views into the discussion.

    My point: Analysts should no be put on a pedestal. The good ones will become obvious in the insightful reports they write or advice they give. Of course, the not-so-good types have value too, as they may be an excellent PR conduit. Influencing the market in a positive manner for your company is the whole reason to talk to us analyst type folks, so sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do what’s necessary to get the job done.

    In the end, analysts are the same as the press and your colleagues. Some are good, some are bad, but you have to deal with them no matter what.

  4. Well said Tom…

  5. John,

    You’re right but don’t go to the conclusions:

    1. Don’t fill in those bloody questionnaires, it’s the analyst job. Unless you’re 100% sure of the methodology and that you’ll come on top… Instead, get the analyst do do their job and pre-fill it, then correct it. They should read brochure, Red Books, white papers and your web sites. Lazyness is not an excuse. Remember you provide a free service to analysts but don’t have to do their jobs… Instead, concentrate on getting your execs to give some colour to the offerings and more importantly what you do for customers.

    2. Your job is to help shaping research agendas. If a questionaire comes unexpected, you’re reactive, not proactive.

  6. ARonaut, we won, I didn’t want to leave anything out as it was tough this year with the rules of the report completely changed. It was worth it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. SageCircle - analysts are narcissistic prima donnas who want to do things their way. » Delusions of Adequacy
  2. SageCircle - analysts are narcissistic prima donnas who want to do things their way. « Delusions of Adequacy

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