Archive | AR Best practices

Softcopy formats

I first need to start this post with an apology to Merv, as I’ve kept calling him Adrian -it’s probably that it sounded more like a first name than Merv to my little French brain. So, apologies Adrian Merv!

Anyway, Merv started a poll on should AR Provide Soft Copies of Briefing Content? and asked me to relay this. I thought the question is interesting.

I always send the decks in PDF, because it’s a more open format than .ppt or .pptx -an old habit I got at IBM since no one could read Freelance decks. It’s also much smaller, which avoids getting flame mails from analysts on the move -I know this shows my age by I remember a conversation with an analyst stuck in Italy and trying to download 1 meg email (it was a lot of bytes a the time) over a 32 bauds connection. Even if the ubiquity of WiFi changed quite a lot of things (including removing the need to travel with screwdrivers to connect to telephone socket in Italian hotels…), sending an 8 MB deck isn’t well received by analysts who travel a lot. Oh, and I always send them in advance to let the analyst prepare, ask him/her if she/he has specific questions and suggest my spokespersons to frame the briefing and plan for 20-40 mn of content per 60 mn slot to avoid death-by-Powerpoint. Obviously, some spokespersons don’t comply and that’s the life of an AR manager 🙁

Merv also mentions that AR like the fact PDF can’t be changed, that’s also a point: it’s easier to send the PDF and then if the analyst needs a graphic, let him/her request it and then make sure that it’s employed correctly. Briefing decks aren’t always checked by Legal, etc, and AR needs to make sure anything can be reused. PDF’ing a deck also removes the speaker notes, which are often not in synch or updated with new decks and my contain unwanted information.

This leaves the problem of making notes on a deck, in electronic format that is. Annotating a PDF using the full-Acrobat is a good solution but some comments on Merv’s post point that analysts like to past a deck structure into a word processor and start draft a research note this way.

But what about webcasts?

Turning the problem the other way around, why don’t the analyst provide their research as a Wiki that can be updated, where you could see different contributions including vendor reviews? There would be many issues associated with this idea but I thought it’s worth a debate?

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IIAR publishes Best Practice Paper on Managing the Gartner MQ

Today the IIAR published my Best Practice Paper titled: “Managing the Gartner Magic Quadrant: a tool for analyst relations managers.”  The paper is free for all IIAR members and can be found in the Library section of the IIAR extranet.  In it, I discuss and give recommendations on the key stages of the Magic Quadrant and how to ensure you and your team are as prepared as you can be when the process begins; how to build internal support and manage expectations with your stakeholders; building the relationship with the relevant Gartner analyst; and providing customer references.

After I agreed to write an IIAR whitepaper about managing the Gartner MQ process I soon discovered that everyone has an opinion, in many cases an emotional one. In addition, I realised that the paper needed a focus or otherwise it could have easily been turned into a book. I will admit that I was selfish, that what guided me through the research and writing process was the question: what would have helped me in past situations working with the senior management at vendors? In the end, I aimed to create a pragmatic and useable document with sections that can be cut and pasted.

There’s so many people to thank for providing their insights and time. Moving forward I would like to keep writing about topics related to the MQs. I would welcome your comments, suggestions and stories (even under NDA).

IIAR members can read the full paper here > http://my.hdle.it/7601816

Related post: Gartner engages in debates on their blog

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IIAR research highlights importance of International AR

As a result of doing some research on International AR practices and gaining input during the January IIAR forum in London, the following paper onWhy do International Analyst Relations matter? (subscribers only) is now available to all IIAR members.

As AR professionals, we all are familiar with the value and sales influence of industry analysts. It can sometimes be a hard sell internally, because for ethical reasons analysts do not speak about their end-user client engagements. But anecdotal evidence shows that IT analysts influence most, if not all, large deals

But can you articulate the value and business drivers of International AR?

How many of us can rattle off the main business benefits for complementing corporate AR with an International AR program? Do we know the most important business drivers for regional and country level AR? Do we all have visibility on the multiple ways in which analysts in Germany, India, Singapore, Brazil, and China are impacting vendor sales, marketing and strategy daily, not to mention the ways in which they influencing end user procurement decisions?

And most importantly, are our stakeholders aware of the potential negative impact on the sales pipeline by not having any global AR outreach?

Why do International Analyst Relations matter? aims to provide a balanced set of answers for all these questions, and more.

What do you think?

Tell us what your experience of international AR is if you’re analyst or an AR professional. Would this fit into your company model and culture? Have you similar ideas you would like to share?

For comments and input, please contact ewarner -at- analystrelations -dot- org.

Methodology and industry best practices for International AR is covered in a separate white paper, I’ll blog about this soon.

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Analysts: When you’re looking for a briefing – help me to help you

As much as Analyst Relations professionals spend time pitching briefings to analysts, we also spend alot of time fielding briefing requests from analysts with specific needs whodon’t always appreciate how much work is required to set up a briefing. Before we actually get everyone in the same room or on the phone, we AR professionals need to:

  • Understand the depth and scope of the information requested by the analyst: is it strategic, forward-looking and under NDA or is it available in existing content such as publicly delivered decks, collateral or online content
  • Identify the right spokesperson(s): is she/he authorised? AR trained? Does he/she have all the knowledge or do we need multiple spokespeople?
  • Select the best delivery method for this content and how long will it take: are we talking about an all-day live demo or will a series of shorter phone-based conversations do the trick?
  • Make sure the content is right: Does the spokesperson knows how does this fit into the overall corporate messages? If based locally, is the spokesperson familiar enough with the Corporate content and possible future releases and other upcoming stuff?
  • Do we need to include customer or partner evidence and, if so, what form does that need to take: a case study or a phone call w/ an actual customer?

We then need to steal time from those people’s day. For instance, if it’s a local briefing using pre-sales, how can we justify spending one full day of on screen demo with a local analyst when that resource could be working on a RFI for an important deal?

All that is not always easy, even if good AR folks are like swans: maintaining serene appearances while paddling frantically.

How can analysts help then? By being specific and actionable. For instance, if you just write a show email asking for a meeting like the one below, it doesn’t contain enough information to be truly actionable:

Good morning dear X,
How are you? Very well I hope. I have learnt that you had taken over responsibility for topic X at Vendor A.
I just wanted to make sure you knew that our firm had invested in the space and we now have a full time analyst covering topic X. His name is Y.
Could we schedule some time to meet, and we could perhaps meet some people on your team?

The easiest is to send us a professional (rather than personal), corporate-sounding email, that we can easily forward stating the following:

  • Who you are and what your firm does?
  • Your areas of coverage?
  • How the briefing you’re asking fits into your research schedule?
  • What is the research process you’re using?
  • What’s the end deliverable? A report? How long? Does it mention other vendors? Who’s the intended audience?
    Etc….

It doesn’t need to be War and Peace but it does need to contain enough information to help the AR professional fulfil your request as quickly and completely as possible.

Thanks to Naomi Higgins for her contribution to this post.

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Gartner improves the vendor briefing process

In the most recent Gartner Analyst Relations Newsletter, Peter Kalinowski explains how the Vendor
Briefings
process has been simplified based on feedback received from AR professionals.

Amongst other things, all analysts now have access to the materials and the scheduling is easier. Also, vendors are getting a single point of contact -a welcome return to the client relationship model that META Group used.

This is a great improvement however some other questions like materials under NDA and access by Gartner’s consultants have been raised at the last IIAR Forum and would merit being clarified.

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