In any given week, analysts hear many pitches. What may not be apparent is “How engaged is the analyst?” So if you are a vendor, how do you engage an analyst? First, don’t be one of those people who is more interested in getting through all your slides in the short period of time you have with the analyst versus really having an engaging conversation with the analyst.
Slides are important as a visual representation of the product and / or services, but more important is the conversation that happens between the vendor and the analyst. Presenting a slide deck where only the vendor presents and the analyst has no time to comment or interact, is not engaging and doesn’t really help the analyst understand your software.
Most analyst have been listening to vendor pitches for years. And after a while they all sound very similar. The only way often times an analyst can grasp what is new or different, is if the vendor has really done their homework prior to presenting to the analyst and can articulate the following things in the first three slides:
1. What does your company do?
2. Who are your top 5 competitors?
3. Why is, what you are offering, so different and so much better those top 5 competitors?
Analysts don’t want a linear presentation with the history of the company, with how many employees… We don’t really always believe when vendors say they have “displaced” this vendor and that vendor. If all the vendors who said they displaced another vendor were true, then no one would have software.
What we want, as analysts, is to quickly assess in the first 5 minutes is “Why am I listening to this presentation?” (Besides the obvious, which is, it is our job to take vendor briefings… )
The issue is that most vendors don’t really know the answers to the top three questions. Why? Because it takes a lot of work to do a SWOT analysis, to understand what your company does and to be able to message that in a unique and interesting way.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve seen nearly the same slide deck from different vendors in the same week, month or year. What I mean by this is that the content on the slides – even though they are different vendors — is very similar. So if the vendor can’t tell me why they are different, better, unique… it makes it very difficult for us, as analysts, to describe to end-users of software why they should consider a particular vendor over another one.
It’s up to the vendor to really do the SWOT analysis and know your competitors and how you are different or better than your competitors. What I find is that most vendors don’t spend the time to do this exercise. The issue is that when a vendor doesn’t do this, the presentation doesn’t really inform the analyst what they need to know to help recommend them to their network of end users. Which is part of what a vendor wants – they want the analyst to know enough about the vendor to make a recommendation to their end-users so the vendors can make more sales.
The net-net is that the analyst’s attention is not captured in the way that the vendor would like or perhaps thinks that is happening during the briefing.
The solution? Before briefing an analyst, make sure that your first three slides are about:
1. What does your company do? What problem(s) in a company does it solve? Who does it solve those business problems for? What roles? Do you know what keeps that role up at night and why does your solution solve their problem(s)?
2. How does your software solve that problem for that role? What are the details — the how to’s –how does the software solve those issues for that role better than any other software company?
3. And why is your software able to solve those problems differently and better than any other competitor? What is your competitive edge?
I hope that vendors that want recommendations to buyers take the time to either go through this exercise themselves or get help to create conversations and presentations that do engage analysts. If vendors are able to do this, they will make the conversation between the analyst and the software vendors richer, more productive and in the end, both parties will end up with what they both want – analysts to have a clear picture of the marketplace and the vendor to get more sales.
About the author
Dr. Natalie Petouhoff (bio, @drnatalie, LinkedIn) is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Researcg focusing on the integration of traditional business strategy and operations with social / digital business transformation at scale by using the latest trends in software that result in increased customer and employee engagement and major shifts increased revenue and decreased costs. Prior to this she was a Forrester software analyst and change management consultant ta PWC.