When even hyper-successful companies like AWS invest in dedicated analyst and advisor relations management although they seem to dominate their markets anyway, it suggests they realize much more value in AR than ‘only’ to position high in an industry report.
Even small innovative businesses seek to engage regularly with the likes of Gartner, Forrester, IDC or with boutique analyst firms, although they may be far from making it ‘onto’ a flagship MQ or Wave or Marketscape report. Why do they prioritise time and money to AR?
Because it pays unique dividends that are harder to achieve otherwise.
This article aims to explain AR results in the context of the business functions that it supports and based on years of hands-on experience.
Quick (incomplete) intro to Analyst and Advisor Relations
I’ve worked in analyst and advisor relations management in medium and large organisations, and I’ve played a broad spectrum of AR instruments. It is a fascinating professional discipline with deep and direct reach right into the entrepreneurial centers of even super large organisations.
- It means personal connections right to the people who effectively strategize about portfolio, partnerships and investments, or who actually shape the critical tactical programs of the company, or who work on that unique “must-win“ deal. AR is in touch, understands their diverse needs and challenges and often connects the dots between separate issues that even key players didn’t realise. AR helps by bringing independent and trustworthy external insights to these key players where and when it is specifically needed to get ahead.
- At the same time AR also helps by carefully positioning the companies most relevant topics with industry leading analysts and advisors, so that its capabilities and ambitions are adequately understood when the most influential market reports are written and when potential new customers seek strategic advice from sourcing consultants.
From these two perspectives alone you can see that the AR role can be extremely impactful, when companies allow it a bit of breathing space. But how effectively does it translate to business?
Let me take you through 3 examples how analyst and advisor relations management can achieve what type and dimension of business results.
The report-to-business impact
When I took over the management of a specific Gartner MQ in one of the companies smaller portfolio branches, the company had already qualified onto the report and was placed as a close-to-niche challenger. I was assigned to manage the submission for the following year. That year our placement advanced straight to the Leaders box. In response, early heads up information from customers about planned larger investment and the number of invites to such RFIs grew tripple digits. Now that was remarkable.
After that I managed with the portfolio team to improve the MQ placement another four years in a row, overtaking big names in the industry and making it right to the top placement within the Leaders box. I taught sales how to use these placements with prospects beyond simply sending them a copy mentioning the success, and instead showed them a way that would take the conversation to an entirely different level, open a more strategic perspective and thus give sales a much better understanding of the customers challenges and broader ambitions. During this time the business of the portfolio branch grew 5x, attracting new top brands as customers and – equally important – attract new key talent as well.
The insight-to-innovation impact
Since top report placements do not come from once-a-year engagements with an analyst house but rather build on a continuous and well-dosed alterocentric exchange, there’s a lot of value that AR collects along the way. Insight about the market and trends, technology, new business models, management challenges, etc. Using this insight for and with the people who run the most critical projects and programs throughout the organisation directly supports their results and amplifies their value for the company.
This is probably the most fascinating part of the AR work because it is so excitingly diverse and it challenges and builds the AR manager’s business acumen every day in so many ways.
During the time when I intensified a more continuous exchange with leading industry analysts and sourcing advisors for my portfolio teams, the insight that we gained from these interactions significantly supported the teams ability to advance product and portfolio strategy. It helped by challenging us with doubts, it reaffirmed unusual observations, it put things into wider perspective, and we were asked questions in a way that was just that bit harder to answer, etc. During this time the teams – from engineer to VP – felt encouraged to build on the companies actual strengths and to follow their very own vision to develop true hard-to-copy USPs. Countable result: It won TMforum awards around digital business innovation 3 years in a row.
The resource-to-revenue impact
A dedicated team of AR professionals working with top sourcing advisors can lead to additional opportunities that are beyond even the best sensors of a companies sales teams. It will also be able to leverage insights that are more effective support for both, the sales team as well as the customer, by avoiding costly and frustrating bid efforts based on wrong expectations and instead direct the resources to the right matches early on.
An AR manager can make this happen very effectively and efficiently. The value of the additional business will outweigh their salary cost by far. Although this is certainly depending on the industry and type of products and services, however, in telecommunications and IT services a ratio of double to tripple digit multipliers is a good indicator to size the net value.
Companies with a modern understanding of continuous business improvement are investing in AR for all the above reasons and more. Counting the value of AR just by the number of top placements or analyst quotes does not do it justice at all. The true value is in the countable effect on the people and the programmes supported.
AR is their lean and effective managed interface into insights from top analysts who’s reputation is built on true independence, often proven over a decade or more. In effect AR support amplifies the value of these companies’ best strategic and tactical initiatives and the value of their best people.
I hope these high level explanations and examples will help qualify the value of this exciting type of role for your own business as well – or inspire you to extend how you can leverage the possibilities even further.
Comments more than welcome.
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