[GUEST POST] Successful Analyst Relations Requires Grown Ups

By Peggy O’Neill  (@pegoneillLinkedIn) from Informatica. 

A fellow AR manager called recently to weep on my shoulder. She wanted a sanity check about setting internal expectations on what analyst relations could or could not do as her executives were making demands she considered outlandish. She sought my unvarnished opinion about the requests involved in case they were possible and she needed to step up her game.

I listened in disbelief to what her execs were asking for, probed for more details, and I’m sad to report that at the end of the conversation we concluded it was time for her to leave her company as she was working at an outfit where the culture and expectations were antithetical to a successful analyst relations program.

I hung up and breathed a grateful sigh that I work with grownups who live in the real world and understand the limits of what I can do. The conversation served as potent reminder that we AR managers frequently don’t appreciate the impact a company’s culture and emotional maturity has on our work. We complain about budget, headcount, idiosyncrasies of the analysts we work with, but a key ingredient for AR success is how emotionally mature your management and colleagues are. Do they have ridiculous expectations of what AR can do? Take the short below quiz and find out.

 

Your company is about to announce a point release for a product. It’s not going to change the world, it has a few functional enhancements. Your management wants you to:

A) Send an email FYI to your analysts.

B) Brief your analysts and ask for coverage.

C) Get Gartner to write a note about it.

 

Your company will hold its user conference in a month. Your management wants you to:

A) Invite analysts to it and offer to pay their T&E.

B) Get analysts to attend on their own dime.

C) Get analysts to speak for free at the event.

 

You just received a negative draft research note about your company. It’s accurate and deserved. Your management wants you to:

A) Alert your sales force to expect this and have talking points ready.

B) Escalate this note and hope to get it softened.

C) Threaten to sue the analyst unless it’s withdrawn.

 

Your company has a very favorable “dot” placement in a Wave or Magic Quadrant. Your management wants you to:

A) Buy a reprint and work with marketing, social media team, sales, and PR to promote it.

B) Not buy a reprint, but work with PR and others to promote the placement.

C) Not buy reprint, but give sales a PDF and tell them to use it competitively against weaker players.

 

Lots of A answers mean you’re lucky to work with emotionally mature, pragmatic executives who understand that analysts are independent entities with their own agendas and sometimes it can align with your company’s agenda, and sometimes it doesn’t. B answers mean they want you to push more than you should sometimes at the detriment of your company’s reputation and relationship with the analysts. C answers mean you work with narcissistic and delusional people who really don’t understand the world you operate in. C answers mean you should look for another position because you won’t be able to have a successful AR program in that kind of culture.

 

A company with a grown up culture understands that analysts sometimes will call them out on their weaknesses and take their deserved lumps gracefully. A company with a grown up culture has the ability to plan so everything isn’t a last minute request or surprise to the analyst community. A company with a grown up culture is intellectually humble and understands that time spent with an analyst could yield a nugget of information or different perspective they didn’t have previously.

 

We AR managers are the advocates for analysts within our company. It’s our jobs to explain analyst motivations and analyst business models and coach our colleagues how best to work with analysts. If you clearly articulate the benefits of working with analysts and outline the limitations, reasonable executives will understand where analysts fit in the big picture.

 

Below is a fun Hype Cycle for Industry Analyst Relations

IIAR_hype_cycle_for_analyst_relations

AR managers spending excessive time and emotional energy educating colleagues are at a disadvantage compared to the ones who can devote more time to actually interacting with analysts. Deftly executed, analyst relations can be a competitive differentiator for company rather than a source of confusion and heartburn. Which camp would you rather be in? Comment and share your best practices on this.

 

Peggy O’Neill (@pegoneillLinkedIn) is a former IIAR Board member and Senior Director of Analyst Relations at Informatica. This blog is dedicated to her nice, grown up colleagues at Informatica.

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3 Responses to [GUEST POST] Successful Analyst Relations Requires Grown Ups

  1. Simon Jones Monday 29th February 2016 at 16:37 #

    Great post, Peggy! You are indeed lucky.

  2. Rob Curran Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 18:21 #

    Great, great post. AR pros should use these questions during job interviews.

  3. Horst Kuchling Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at 11:21 #

    I like the Hype Cycle because it illustrates that well entrenched AR practices shall be able to weather the storm when it gets rough. The ability to escape the phase of disillusion proves if expectation management between analysts and corporate AR stakeholders works properly.