I was sitting in the middle of a noisy intellectual ruckus about the future of research and advisory services some weeks back when an odd thought struck me.
It was at the London IIAR meeting in March, where R “Ray” Wang and his Constellation all-stars were agitating for radical change in the research industry. Ray was talking about new models, new delivery methods, and new value propositions, while some very respected AR practitioners were questioning the value of his approach. Did the world need this kind of shake-up? And, if so, was it really going to change the nature of AR’s dealings with analysts?
I was supposed to be keeping the peace and chairing the meeting. But I kept being distracted by thoughts about whether all this might be relevant to me.
I suspect our clients at The Skills Connection have a narrow view of AR, centered almost entirely on the analysts’ impact on buying decisions.
And this thought made me ponder how much that’s true for AR in general.
Ultimately, the analyst relations role is all about influencing the influencer.
And is the arrival of Constellation and the other Young Turks really going to alter the basics of influencing the influencer? I think the answer is probably no.
Maybe our real value-add doesn’t lie so much in knowing the nuts and bolts of what needs to be done in engaging with analysts, as in the how, in the very specific application of that knowledge.
So it’s not about telling companies to answer the questions, without being dishonest or evasive. It’s not about knowing they must provide the numbers and customer success stories the analysts will need.
It’s about which numbers to give, which to hold back, how to present them, and how to use them to tell a story, and about framing case studies in ways that underline what matters most.
The outside world thinks we know big secrets about how Gartner, IDC, and Forrester operate. We don’t. There aren’t any big secrets. What we, as AR professionals, know is all the little secrets, the fine skills and deft touches that make the difference.
As I sat there at the IIAR, I realized we could probably afford to lay bare all the fundamentals of what we do. I could tell The Skills Connection’s prospects just what they’d need to do to get a good assessment.
Because it’s not the recipe we’re selling – it’s the secret sauce. And that secret sauce is what makes the analyst relations professional a chef, rather than a cook.
After the meeting, I published these dangerous thoughts in a blog posting called ‘Roll Up, Roll Up, We’re Giving Away the Shop’. That might be a mistake. Maybe listing the recipe will put us out of business. But I don’t think so.
You might like to take a look. If you think it’s useful, you might want to share it with the people you work with. It might explain to them why you need to keep your focus on the fine detail of the AR role. Because we are the secret sorcerers – and getting the subtle stuff right is where we add the value.
Our thanks to Simon Levin (IIAR UK Co-Chapter Lead / MD, The Skills Connection) for this contribution.
3 thoughts on “[Guest Post] The Secret Sauce and the Secret Sorcerers by Simon Levin”
“Influencing the Influencers” – what a great name for a book – no, wait…
Seriously, good piece. EVERY new firm needs to justify their role in end user buying influence and clearly demonstrate their end user customer base, if they have one. And almost all do NOT.
Thanks Stephen. It really was a great title for the book.
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