In private conversations, Influencer Relations professionals often critique the analysts’ level of preparedness for a briefing. However, the IR pros are unwilling to actually say something to the analyst for fear of hurting the relationship or courting retaliation. We think that these fears are unfounded as most analysts would appreciate reasonable suggestions for how they can improve what they do. IR pros, please feel free to leave suggestions via comments to this post!
To get the ball rolling here are few ideas that should only take an analyst a few minutes to do immediately prior to a briefing:
- Review the information or materials that the vendor has (hopefully) sent you regarding the briefing.
- Review notes on past briefings from this vendor
- Use Google News to quickly scan recent headlines for potential surprises
- Visit the vendor’s webpage and quickly scan recent press releases
- If the vendor is a public company, quickly review the relevant parts of the most recent financial announcement
- Jot down recent relevant end-user comments about the vendor to get you in the frame of mind to ask targeted questions
- If this is a product or services briefing review similar offerings from competitive vendors
Now some analysts might react to these suggestions thinking it adds a lot of work to a briefing which they are not “paid to do”. It is Kea Company’s opinion that this should not be a lot of work – and that the information you are receiving from the vendor helps in your overall client research and therefore has a lot of value. If you have an ongoing relationship with this vendor this should be a very easy process. If this is an unfamiliar vendor you might ask for some of the information when accepting the briefing. In either case, take the time to review all materials from the vendor before the briefing starts.
Bottom line: Analysts should prepare themselves appropriately when accepting a vendor briefing. Hopefully the information received will add to the overall understanding of the market strategy, products, and services that are available to the clients of the analyst firm.
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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Here are some of the points from the discussion that followed the publication:
Mohy Shams from Gartner shared: Thanks for sharing your comments. I think it’s great advice, however in reality I’m not sure if this would happen. From my personal experience working at Gartner (SMB vendors & Larger accounts), I feel analysts have too much on their agenda to take out more time to conduct this type of preperation for a vendor briefing. Baring in mind, an analyst is not required to take a VB unless it will be of value to the end user clients they advise or if they havent heard of the vendors name before & been mentioned several times by multiple end user clients (or if the vendor sounds cool, genuinely interesting for the analyst and isn’t another ‘Me Too’ vendor!). Therefore, the vendor really needs to differentiate themselves amongst others wanting to raise mindshare of anaysts. I think it would be great if you could share your thoughts on how vendors could create thought leadership / mindshare with analysts using unconventional methods. Once again, these are just my personal opinions, not of Gartners officially.
Samyr Jriri of Kea Company replied: On one hand, vendors indeed should make sure their vendor briefing is relevant through good prep and strong alignment to the coverage areas. What vendors often forget is that a vendor briefing – in the first place – is about adding value to the end users through the analyst ecosystem, and not about themselves. Mostly when challenges around the vendor briefing process are identified and discussed, the focus tends to go to what the vendor has done wrong, often with good reason. However this post is about what the analysts can/should do from their side, what is good vendor preparation for if it isn’t consumed prior to a briefing? Your point about analysts often not having time is valid in so far that it is a reality, however it is not valid as an excuse. Where vendors need to keep improving the quality of their interactions with analysts, analysts need to make sure their quality doesn’t get compromised because of high volume pressure from above (which is where the time restraints mostly come from). Unfortunately, these are the consequences when pushing too much on hardcore data driven business growth in what essentially is a relationship driven people business.
Christian Holscher from BT: Agree with you Thom. And adding to Samyrs point (ultimately it’s not about the vendor, it’s about the value for the end customer) I found briefings to be most valuable when the analysts freed themselves from just ranking a vendor against “market standards” or the benchmark set by some market share leader. Instead the best analysts explored how this specific vendor interpreted the market in their own way and in the light of what they understand of the challenges and ambitions of their target audience. In the end this approach may touch the same criteria – but it’s a very different mindset and helps to discover value outside the box. Some analysts aim to rank vendors against a standardised set of criteria, often defined by the market leaders – and this has some value if you’re in a commodity market. But if you try to find a vendor that fits your specific context and your strategy, then you want an analyst who appreciates diversity. The vendor preparation you suggest communicates professional respect and makes a briefing more effective. An analysts curiosity for how vendors see the market and their ability to differentiate how vendors apply capabilities differently to market challenges and to customer ambitions makes their insight truly valuable. By the way also for the vendor in terms of being challenged to best explain their proposition.
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