[GUEST POST] Maximizing the impact of an analyst briefing, by Richard Stiennon / IT-Harvest

By Richard Stiennon, Chief Research Analyst at IT-Harvest and a former VP of Research at Gartner (LinkedIn, @rstiennon)

In a two-part blog, the IIAR will be publishing an adapted excerpt from Richard Stiennon’s book – Up and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence. In this post Richard provides some advice to AR pros on ‘Maximizing the impact of an analyst briefing’. The IIAR will be holding a webinar with Richard on October 4th to hear more about his book and IIAR members wishing to buy his book will receive a 50% discount.

Most analyst firms, including Gartner, do not charge for analyst briefings. Savvy PR professionals take advantage of this to get early recognition of their clients. The analyst briefing is one of the most important ways to influence a vendor’s position in the all important Gartner Magic Quadrant. With Gartner, the vetting process is more stringent than for an inquiry, which is another opportunity to interact with key analysts but is reserved for paying clients.  You have to fill out a briefing request and send it in. You should know beforehand which analysts you want on the call; if you appeal to more than one, you may get several on the call. A briefing is a rare opportunity to get a full hour of an analyst’s time. Follow this guide to maximize the impact of your analyst briefings.

Typically you will have the AR/PR person and a product person on the phone. The more senior the product person is, the better. The CEO is even better if you are representing a single product vendor. No matter who it is, he or she should be good at briefings. That means conversant with the product and good at handling questions and objections (“That’s a great question, we have thought long and hard about that and here is what we came up with.”)

The presentations should be professional. Not a lot of bullet points but lots of data. And keep the number of slides down. You try sitting through four to six briefings a day and see how you feel at the end of a day of ‘death by PowerPoint’.

Now, some pointed advice on those slide presentations. Send your slides to the analyst beforehand. Do not even bother scheduling a Webex or other online presentation. The analyst is not necessarily sitting at her desk. She may be at the gate waiting for a flight or in a hotel room with no Internet access. You will see why the analyst likes to have the slides as soon as you start the presentation. She will interrupt to ask you to skip ahead to what you do. She will stipulate the existence of the problem. No need to go through the slide with the graph that goes up exponentially to the right, or the slide with the headlines from the papers, or the survey results that demonstrate nine out of ten CIOs agree… If you do include those slides be prepared for that interruption. It is the analyst’s favorite trick. But it is not spiteful, she has seen all those slides a hundred times. She has created slides like that and even includes them in her own presentations. You are talking to the expert on the problem and the solution. Get to your solution. I recommend starting out with the ‘who we are’ slide that lists the top salient points. Who are your founders/key people? Where are you located? What do you do? How big are you (sales, revenue, etc.)? Let her pigeonhole you. It’s the way an analyst’s brain works. It has to be that way considering the amount of data and the number of vendors she talks to. The very next slide should be a big, beautiful picture of your product. If it is a hardware product this is great. If it is software or a service it is harder. Figure that out. You will need that picture for lots of other reasons anyway.

Now dive into how your product works: what components, what features, speeds, and feeds. Analysts love data. Have I said that before?

Pay attention to the questions the analyst poses. Answer honestly and professionally.

By way of example, let me tell you about the briefing from hell. A very big technology company (and a very big Gartner client) scheduled a briefing with four analysts in the security group to introduce them to the huge effort they were launching in the security space: security professional services. We got on the call and were exposed to a 70-page PowerPoint. It went on, and on, and on. There was no data, only bullet points about how well positioned the company was to offer consulting services. The four analysts were all on AOL Instant Messenger and our chat messages were less than complimentary. We colluded on who would ask what question to trip them up. We took turns putting ourselves on mute and getting up to go to the bathroom. It was a miserable and memorable moment. From that time on I refused to have anything to do with that vendor. I would not take calls from them and I made sure I was not available for their big analyst day or SAS (Strategic Analyst Service) engagements. Don’t be that vendor. I never heard anything more of their professional services effort. It probably never got off the ground—they killed it with a PowerPoint presentation.

Every briefing should accomplish four goals:

1. Build a relationship

2. Form the overall opinion of your company

3. Gather intelligence on what the analyst is looking for

4. Plant a tagline in the analyst’s brain


Adapted excerpt taken from ‘Up and to the RIGHT: Strategy and tactics of analyst influence – a complete guide to analyst influence’ by Richard Stiennon

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