Analyst & B2B influencer relations (AR) is a unique field, in that it’s mutually beneficial to both industry analysts and vendors as well as buyers. Analysts depend on vendors for product and customer information, so they can write and speak accurately about the market.
And because analysts have deep knowledge in the particular markets they cover and a unique vantage point between buyers and sellers, they can provide competitive insights, strategy guidance, messaging feedback and more to vendors that can positively impact their business. On top of these insights, analysts also play a key role in the sales cycle — advising technology buyers directly, producing influential market reports, and endorsing vendors through public opinion according to the IIAR> AR Compass.
For AR practitioners and their companies, it may take time to build strong, long-term relationships with analysts, but the results can be profound. So in addition to tenacity and some patience, analyst relations professionals require a breadth of other skills (effective communications, project management, collaboration, etc.) for a rewarding and successful career.
Whether you are just beginning in AR or you’re a seasoned vet, we at the IIAR> are here to provide valuable resources for all stages of your career. In a recent IIAR> Webinar, IIAR> Board Member Ludovic Leforestier (@lludovic, LinkedIn), IIAR> Co-Founder & Board Member and Starsight Communications founder with Trish Valladares (LinkedIn), Marketing and CX Associate at ARInsights interviewed a panel of AR leaders and experts on the importance and future of analyst & influencer relations. Follow along with the video below to hear from the expert panel —including: Alexia O’Sullivan / Global Analyst Relations Leader, EY (@AlexiaOSullivan, LinkedIn), Allen Valahu / Global Industry Analyst Relations Managing Director, Accenture (@AllenValahu, LinkedIn), Aniruddho Mukherjee / Head of Analyst Relations at HCL Technologies (@aniruddho, LinkedIn), Ricarda Rodatus / SVP of Analyst Relations at Oracle (@rodatusr, LinkedIn) and Robin Schaffer / Principal AR Consultant, Schaffer AR on the value analyst relations brings and the future of the practice. We’ve also included some highlights of the conversation below.
Below are some key takeaways from the webinar:
1. What do analyst relations professionals do?
The most common reason panelists enjoyed and felt fulfilled in their jobs in the AR industry was the variety of the work they perform. No day looks the same for an AR professional, and they often interact with a broad number of departments and executives — as well as analysts, of course! AR pros often connect analysts to people and information, meet with stakeholders to understand what information to share with analysts, identify gaps and new opportunities for analyst relations programs, and project-manage major evaluations. There’s a continuous feedback loop, as AR professionals funnel analyst insights and recommendations back into decision-making processes at their organizations.
2. How can you measure analyst relations’ value?
As mentioned, AR serves to “influence the influencers,” provide critical insights to the business, identify gaps in messaging or products, and bring together the organization to communicate and refine its branding. Because all of these value-adds come from the knowledge exchange with analysts and often occur over the long term, measuring AR’s value can be challenging. Some ways that teams have been able to measure their AR efforts and value is through analyst perception surveys, deals linked to analyst involvement, and analyst coverage or feedback.
3. What are required qualities of an excellent analyst & influencer relations professional?
Great AR professionals don’t always have experience, at least initially, in AR. In fact, many analyst relations professionals were introduced to AR by chance. Due to AR being a varied role, the qualities required for success range from project management and excellent communication skills to having a strategic mindset. It’s also important that AR pros possess an understanding of their market, have good negotiation skills, can multi-task effectively, and are detail-oriented.
4. What is the future of analyst & influencer relations?
A decade ago, a couple of analyst firms dominated the market, but over the past few years, that has really shifted — with an increase in specialist firms, a greater reliance on peer review sites and a broadened definition of what it means to be an influencer. Because of this diversification, AR managers are working with more firms and managing more relationships, as well as figuring out new processes to handle the influx of changes. Also, AR has become much more strategic and involved in other departments. AR managers often have to collaborate internally to ensure the voice of the customer is being addressed and advise executives on strategies and brand communication.
5. How are analyst & influencer relations professionals recruited?
When searching for an AR job, there are a few things to be aware of before you start applying. Many hiring managers do not necessarily look only for candidates with AR experience. As mentioned, communications skills, market experience and even roles in similar fields (e.g., communications) can be an asset. In addition, expanding your personal networks (such as through LinkedIn and industry associations) is valuable. Because AR is relationship-centered, building personal relationships is important, as hiring managers will lean on their networks to vet candidates to better understand their personality traits and how they might fit within the organizational culture.
For many employers, an IIAR> Certification is preferred.
6. What are analyst & influencer relations professionals career paths?
As mentioned previously, AR touches many facets of an organization and involves lots of bigger-picture thinking. Because of this, AR professionals can easily move to other strategic roles within an organization. They gain many transferable skills, including project management, competitive intelligence, strategic thinking, product marketing and communications. Although the skills involved in AR can transfer easily to other high-level positions, many AR professionals stay within the practice due to its unique positioning and the rewarding relationships built.
Analyst relations is an exciting and fulfilling industry that brings many job prospects and career development opportunities. The IIAR> is an organization that can connect you with AR professionals from around the globe and provide resources on best practices. If you have any questions about our recent webinar or would like more information on how to join the IIAR>, please contact us using the form below.
- IIAR> Primer: Who are industry analysts and what do they do?
- IIAR> Primer: The 7+7+7 Golden Rules of Engagement
- IIAR> Best Practices Papers
- IIAR> Best practice Paper – Future Shock: The Coming State of Analyst Relations