[GUEST POST] Can you build a meaningful relationship with analysts, even if you don’t pay them?

“We have a problem with analysts,” I hear you say. “You have to buy analyst services to have a good relationship with them,” has got to be the most common phrase any analyst relations professional hears from colleagues.

Cynicism reigns when it comes to judging analysts, which reflects the way many of us might feel about the role they, and other influencers, have when recommending IT products or services.

Admittedly some are harder to engage than others if you do not have a subscription, but is that true of all Analyst Houses or is there a middle ground?

Seven things worth knowing about analysts
We’ve compiled a quick checklist to help you understand their drivers and so you can better develop great relationships with analyst firms:

1) Good analysts prize their independence. In fact, their reputation hinges on remaining independent while advising their clients.

2) Analysts will NOT ignore you if you have something really good to talk about. Why should they? After all, you might be the trailblazer they identify and, in turn, get the kudos for predicting the disruptive influence you have on your target markets.

3) Analysts are human. They don’t know everything but, crucially, don’t have time to speak to every single vendor.

4) As they are human, you have to understand how they work, what they are working on, the timescales they have and the channels through which they provide advice.

5) To catch their attention, you need to provide really useful information using structured engagements over time to help them with their research, and make sure this fits in with their schedules. One off briefings are useless.

6) If you say ‘we are the world leading vendor providing modular, scalable solutions…blah, blah, blah’, just STOP. This means nothing. Tell analysts about specific and real problems you are addressing and let them tell people you are a leader.

7) They need to eat, pay mortgages and go for the occasional holiday. Separating how they make money and learning about various vendors so they can then advise their clients is something they all do – the best ones give disclaimers so you know exactly who their clients are.

So, what are analyst subscriptions all about?
Sometimes, you just need help with your lead generation and market positioning. Analysts who track various vendors in a specific market will know the ones that are doing well. Sometimes it is simply the technology or services that competitors provide which simply rock. Most of the time, they just have a good story that resonates better with clients than yours does.

Analyst subscriptions are, therefore, useful to help you position yourself better using the resources, advice and specific feedback opportunities you have available with individual analysts.

If you think it means analysts will say you are the best thing since sliced bread was invented, forget it. No analyst worth their salt will destroy their reputation doing so. Yes, you might get the Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves, but these follow strict guidelines to maintain analyst independence (whether you agree with them or not).

Why don’t analysts want to talk to me then?
Just maybe, you don’t have anything relevant to add! Or maybe what you have to say is not relevant to their speciality.

There are too many vendors to track and a lot of output they need to plan for and deliver. Follow the steps above. Make sure you have a really good update or case studies to follow up with (even better if end users can talk to the analysts directly).

Will analysts stop talking to me if I don’t pay them?
No. They would ideally like to have you as a client (if they take on vendors as clients), but if you’re making waves in your market they still want to give advice to others that will help them make good purchase decisions.

So, be relevant but realistic about what analysts are looking for. They need information to help them build thought leadership positions. You can help them if you engage properly with them. They can also help you if you are honest enough to recognise you need advice to position yourselves better against your competitors. That is when analyst subscriptions come into play.

 

About the author

Eria Odhuba, resident analyst relations lead at The Comms Crowd dispels the most common myth about analyst relations – you have to pay them to play with them.

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3 Responses to [GUEST POST] Can you build a meaningful relationship with analysts, even if you don’t pay them?

  1. hypatiaresearch Wednesday 2nd July 2014 at 18:06 #

    Great post…but worth noting not all analyst firms require subscriptions. Hypatia Research Group maintains relationships with software vendors WITHOUT subscriptions. Our subscriptions are with end users/buyers of software only.

  2. Phil Fersht Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 12:51 #

    Hi Eria,

    A good analyst will have to prioritize his/her paying clients over non-paying ones – they struggle enough with their time and have no choice.

    As long as that analyst is being informed enough of a vendor’s strategy and regularly talks to that vendor’s clients, the only reason to hobnob with non-paying clients is because he/she actually finds real value in the relationship and learns from the interactions.

    When I write an industry blueprint, I make sure I talk to several clients of all the major vendors as I do the research and then offer all the vendors (clients or not) a courtesy briefing to hear more about what differentiates them and exchange some views and ideas.

    It is my hope that the vendor gets so much value from the research and interaction that they will pay for my research and future interaction time. If the vendor chooses not to pay, then clearly I wasn’t of great value to them, and we can both limit our interactions in the future to necessary communications and quarterly updates.

    Regards,

    Phil

  3. Eria Odhuba Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 17:18 #

    Phil – good points. You hit the nail on the head when saying analyst interactions with non-clients have to be very valuable and give the analyst information they would find really useful.

    Regarding Hypatia Research Group – this is where educating people about different analyst models comes in. However, analysts still need valuable information via briefings and it is still important for vendors to make themselves relevant in order to keep relationships going

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