It happens to the best of us. Your analyst relations program is humming along nicely – your analysts are behaving, your internal constituents under control – when one day, wham! You get a call from one of your SVPs sharing some exciting news! Joe Analyst, one of your company’s key advocates, has now joined your company.
AR managers will inevitably grapple with this scenario as analysts migrate to vendors often. Informatica took out two high profile analysts last year and I’ve experienced this at previous employers too. AR managers can expect certain behaviors when an analyst who used to cover your company comes inside, so your best bet is to prepare for when that day hits and take full advantage of the opportunity.
Surprise! You’ll be the Last to Know
Odds are good this will come as a surprise. Most analysts explicitly request confidentiality and ask that AR (and anyone else not directly part of the recruiting process) not be told of interviews in case things don’t work out. That’s fair – when dealing with personnel issues, people should and need to be discreet.
So your SVP will be all smiles and trying to feed you a line such as, “It’s great that we got Joe Analyst to join our team! He’s so smart! Now we don’t have to settle for measly inquiry or expensive consulting to tap his knowledge.”
Keep in mind that this is nearly always an analyst who is bullish on your company. Chances are you have had repeated interactions with this analyst for some time. As we know, analysts feel more comfortable recommending your company when they really understand it. Unfortunately your company did too good a job – your analyst has now fallen in love to the point of wanting to take part in the journey.
Make the Most Out of Your Response to the Hiring Exec
Your first reaction should be an unexpected one. Your SVP is expecting you to react positively to his or her brilliant hire. Indulge in some dramatic eye rolling, growl at your exec, and point out that while he has just added to his brain trust, he has taken out a positive analyst and created more work for you personally. Seize the opportunity to milk this. Slap your hand to your forehead and sarcastically suggest that next time he wants an analyst, to please consult his AR expert. Share how you would preferably steer him to a negative analyst. Better to recruit a critical analyst who wants to fix things than an analyst who agrees with your company’s strengths. Taking out a negative analyst does more to advance the AR cause than leaving a gaping hole in your positive analyst line up.
After your SVP finishes chuckling and concedes you have a clever idea for future analyst hires, ask him for some impressive resumes. Explain that you need to see if you can help refer someone positive in that open position your company just created. You’ll need to find another analyst to replace the one you lost and, if you can pull it off, helping someone get placed is the best way to recruit another groupie. This is a great opportunity for your SVP to see you adjusting rapidly and strategically to a challenging event.
You’ll also need to apologize to your analyst firm for taking out a good analyst and do your best to ingratiate yourself with the hiring manager as you’ll be sending resumes his or her way. And, of course, you’re not allowed to complain about coverage gaps, delayed reports, long inquiry turnarounds for a few months at least.
The Inside Conversation with Your Ex-Analyst and New Colleague
Now it’s time to have a chat with your new colleague. Start by reminding him or her that you’re likely the only person in the company not happy about their arrival, and baldly point out how his or her departure has now created uncertainty and more work in your world. Again, milk this for all its worth. Then ask for your new colleague’s help and shift the conversation to a debrief. What did his former employer really think of us? Who are the best analysts to cultivate, whose star is on the rise and who is checking out? Get your former analyst to conduct a debrief on behind-the-scenes politics – of course while they continue to maintain confidentiality. The analyst is usually happy to dish and you’ve created a shift in the relationship dynamic, demonstrating to the former analyst you’re both now on the same team. This accelerates the indoctrination process while you lay the foundation for an effective relationship with your new colleague.
Without a doubt, your former analyst is going to ask about passwords. By nature analysts are info junkies and they’ve been accustomed to having unlimited access to their own research, so it may come as a shock that you don’t have a password ready for them. Every company manages password distribution and AR budgets differently, so there’s no universal rule of thumb here. However, analyst relations should be an influencing function first, and a market research function second. If you have a scanty AR budget, you shouldn’t be giving passwords willy-nilly to people, even if they really appreciate them (the way a former analyst will). Passwords funded by AR should be for spokespeople and others who interact regularly with the analyst community. Don’t make a special exception for your new colleague just because he’s a former analyst. People who want passwords for research to do their jobs need to get their managers to fund seats, not AR.
In addition to the password discussion, early on you’ll want to discuss rules of engagement – how to leverage their relationships without undermining your authority. Don’t try to issue any dumb edicts such as they’re not allowed to interact with their former colleagues whom they’ve known for years. You’ll just come across as an insecure control freak. Simply remind your new colleague you’re on the same team and routine analyst requests need to be sent to you so that his former colleagues don’t mistake his new role for being AR. Point out there will be opportunities to use him as a diplomat, a spy, or a cop. With his relationships and knowledge, you could use him as a back channel to socialize new things or float trial balloons. He’s now an additional intelligence source as his old colleagues may divulge stuff to him unofficially. And the two of you can play good cop and bad cop with his old firm now that he’s part of your team.
Also, an annoying dynamic may erupt if your analyst has an interest in AR. Internal people may go to him for AR advice or your former analyst may insert himself into AR matters. If you find this happening too frequently with no abatement, you need to nip this in the bud by asking if he plans a career change and has ambitions to transfer to your group. You also need to do some soul searching and ask why your internal people are turning to him as an expert and not you.
Look at the Positives
On the plus side, you now have a new partner who can help educate others about how to truly leverage analysts. And you now have a polished spokesperson who can speak effectively to your analysts. You may get a new needy constituent, but they really do understand how to leverage market research. The bad news is that you’ll be asked for lots of reports and inquiries.
Bottom line: if you manage the transition well, you’ll experience a burst of activity initially but then your former analyst will settle into his job and you’ve gained an internal ally who helps you advance the AR cause.
This blog is dedicated to my colleagues Julie Lockner and Rob Karel, who have been a pain and a delight to work with. Peggy O’Neill is Director of Analyst Relations at Informatica. Any analysts positively disposed toward Informatica are discouraged from applying for employment.