Five More Basics for a Successful Analyst Relations Briefing

In a recent post titled “Five Basics for a Good Analyst Briefing,” we looked at some of the key fundamentals for a good analyst briefing.   Today, I bring you five more basics in the list of best practices that you can adopt to ensure your company is putting its best foot forward in its analyst relations efforts.

#1 – Let the analyst talk

While the purpose of a vendor briefing is for companies to tell analysts about their products, savvy vendors recognize that analysts have something useful to say and deserve a listen. Too many companies plow through dozens of slides sticking tightly to their scripts and often end the call without the analyst getting one word in.  Most senior analysts will not let this happen and will interrupt if they have questions or comments. But don’t make them do that. Good etiquette means you should pause often and ask whether the analyst has something to say. Better yet, make sure you plan to schedule time at the end of your briefing to specifically hear from the analyst, who can provide valuable insight and direction for your company. Contrary to common perception, analysts try to add value on their calls whether or not the vendor is a paying client.

#2 -Respect the analyst’s time

Bottom line, industry analysts are among the most busy folks you’ll work with – and if they’re not, they’re probably not worth your company’s time.  In addition to tracking hundreds of vendors, they’re busy answering client inquiries, doing research, giving presentations/webinars, working on consulting projects, and writing reports.  It’s a known fact that analysts spend a lot of time on vendor briefings although they often prefer to be doing their other work. Therefore, it’s essential to schedule only the amount of time needed and abide by the schedule by starting and ending meetings on time.  Also, make sure your technology works; delays around incorrect Web conferencing logins, for example, are irritating and usually avoidable.  TIP:  resend web conferencing details about 10 minutes before the call so the information is at the top of the analyst’s e-mail box (Gartner analysts most particularly appreciate this).

#3 – Prepare a proper agenda and follow it

Having a proper agenda will help keep your analyst briefings on track.   When possible, this agenda should go to the analyst ahead of time for approval.  While this is not a popular practice, the agenda provides a tool for vendors and analysts to keep the briefings under control and make sure important topics are not overlooked. Too many vendors focus exclusively on their technology. It’s important to ensure that non-technology subjects like company, customers, financials, investors, management and industry backdrop are included in the briefing to ensure analysts have the proper perspective.

#4- Go easy on the PowerPoint® slides

Nothing makes an analyst more frustrated than when they see that a vendor briefing presentation contains more slides than there are minutes allotted for the briefing. Too many slides leaves the analyst confused and not completely sure what is important for their takeaway. You need to make sure your presentation conveys a clear message and gets to the points you think are most important.  The best briefings supplement the presenters, not vice versa. Many analysts want to see your product in action; but of course these product demonstrations should be manageable and support the business messages you are promoting. Again, make sure that there is time for questions and discussion to hear from the analyst so you know if he/she has understood your presentation and make sure to get the valuable information they can offer.

#5 – Follow up with the analyst

It’s amazing that many times after a vendor expends extensive effort to find and brief an analyst, they do nothing to follow up after their initial call. Companies should continue to build the relationship by keeping analysts aware of news and asking for their opinions or ideas when appropriate. It is a fallacy that analysts will only give ideas to paying clients. While paying vendor clients do receive more involved interactions, most analysts are willing to have meaningful discussions with non-paying vendors after a briefing. Companies should strive to build memorable connections with analysts which are achieved by faithful, honest and interesting communications.

Bottomline: analysts are top influencers with your customers and among industry peers—nothing should be spared in applying correct etiquette to ensure you make the most of your valuable time with these high-powered people.

 

Five Basics for a Good Analyst Briefing

Briefing industry analysts is more of a learned art, rather than a formulaic science.

The main objective is to connect with the analysts so they understand your company and solution enough to describe it accurately to others. Some of these “others” include journalists and potential customers who may subscribe to an analyst service. While this objective seems quite straightforward, the desired result is often not achieved. The benefits of success can be so powerful, it’s important to get it right.

Companies need to learn the best practices for briefing industry analysts to help make sure their company connects the dots with these top influencers.

  • 1. Get the Right Analyst

    A good analyst relations program starts by identifying a list of top candidates by proper research and adequate planning.  While it seems obvious, analysts sometimes are pulled into briefings when they do not belong there. This can be quite embarrassing and/or irritating for all parties involved. You can learn about most analysts by looking at their biography on the analyst Web site, reading the titles of their research, looking for their quotes in the trade press or following their social media updates.  Not doing the proper research shows a lack of preparation and can definitely get you started on bad footing.

  • 2. Prime the Analyst

    Do not assume an analyst knows about your company or product. A briefing always goes better when the analyst has time before the discussion to learn about your company. This gives the analyst a chance to think through what you do and is better prepared to ask relevant questions and provide valuable input. Vendors or their PR agencies need to provide information to analysts ahead of time including links to recent press releases of significance. They should also provide the analyst with names and titles of people that will be participating in the briefing. If the analyst does not have this basic info, more time is wasted on background discussion and the analyst is less likely to be prepared to add much value, which is not ideal.

  • 3. Preparation, Presentation and Protocol

    When it comes to analyst briefings you can’t be too prepared.  A brief but informative presentation should serve to familiarize the analyst with the basics of your company history, vision and direction, as well as differentiating product information.  Don’t tell all – leave enough time for the analyst to give his or her feedback or both you and the analyst will be missing out.   Also, make sure your PR representative gives a backgrounder on analysts to the spokespeople to prevent disconnects and show knowledge. He or she should also teach spokespeople the most current analyst protocol and schedule a full-blown run-through of the presentation with briefing tips.  Preparation is the greatest form of believing.

  • 4. Get the Right People in the Meeting

    It’s important to choose the best and most relevant spokespeople from your company to attend an analyst briefing. Things to consider when deciding who should attend a call include: the analyst’s seniority, level of technical expertise, vertical industry, and their coverage areas.  You should limit company attendees to 2-3 people at the most and offer follow-up communications with other members on the team if necessary. Avoid confusion at all costs.

  • Proper Introductions

    When hosting a briefing, It is imperative to take the time for proper introductions before jumping into the company spiel. Nothing is more awkward than when company X launches into slide ware before everyone on the call knows who will be involved and why. While the more seasoned analysts may interrupt and suggest introductions, some will not.  For the best results, everyone should know who is on the call and why.  Also, it’s very respected to let the analyst/s in the briefing provide a brief summary of his/her background , coverage areas and specific items of interest before you start, even if you’ve sent the info previously. When everyone is clear who the players are, you can tailor the conversation for the most success.

There is no way around it, industry analysts influence people in the business and it is important to be sure they have an accurate perspective on your company and solutions. And they need to be handled with care. In an upcoming post, we’ll look at more tips to help you make the most of your analyst briefings.

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Bonus Tips for Making the Most of Your Analyst Briefings

Bonus Analyst Relations TipsIn my last blog post, “The ABCs of Industry Analyst Briefings”, we looked at some of the key fundamentals for successfully briefing industry analysts.  Today I bring you bonus tips to add to the list of best practices you can adopt to ensure your company is putting its best foot forward in its analyst relations efforts.

1) Let the analyst talk. While the purpose of a vendor briefing is for companies to tell analysts about their products, savvy vendors recognize that analysts have something useful to say and deserve a listen. Too many companies plow through dozens of slides sticking tightly to their scripts and often end the call without the analyst getting one word in.  Again, the better analysts will not let this happen and will interrupt if they have questions or comments. But don’t make them do that. Good etiquette means you should pause often and ask whether the analyst has something to say. Better yet, make sure you plan to schedule time at the end of your briefing to specifically hear from the analyst, who can provide valuable insight and direction for your company. Contrary to common perception, analysts try to add value on their calls whether or not the vendor is a paying client.

2) Respect the analyst’s time. Industry analysts are among the most busy folks you’ll work with – and if they’re not, they’re probably not worth your company’s time.  In addition to tracking hundreds of vendors, they’re busy answering client inquiries, doing research, giving presentations/webinars, working on consulting projects, and writing reports.  It’s a known fact that analysts spend a lot of time on vendor briefings although they often prefer to be doing their other work. Therefore, it’s essential to schedule only the amount of time needed and abide by the schedule by starting and ending meetings on time.  Also, make sure your technology works; delays around incorrect Web conferencing logins, for example, are irritating and usually avoidable.  TIP:  resend web conferencing details about 10 minutes before the call so the information is at the top of the analyst’s e-mail box (Gartner analysts most particularly appreciate this).

3) Prepare a proper agenda and follow it. Having a proper agenda will help keep your analyst briefings on track.   When possible, this agenda should go to the analyst ahead of time for approval.  While this is not a popular practice, the agenda provides a tool for vendors and analysts to keep the briefings under control and make sure important topics are not overlooked. Too many vendors focus exclusively on their technology. It’s important to ensure that non-technology subjects like company, customers, financials, investors, management and industry backdrop are included in the briefing to ensure analysts have the proper perspective.

4) Go easy on the PowerPoint® slides. Nothing makes an analyst more frustrated than when they see that a vendor briefing presentation contains more slides than there are minutes allotted for the briefing. Too many slides leaves the analyst confused and not completely sure what is important for their takeaway. You need to make sure your presentation conveys a clear message and gets to the points you think are most important.  The best briefings supplement the presenters, not vice versa. Many analysts want to see your product in action; but of course these product demonstrations should be manageable and support the business messages you are promoting. Again, make sure that there is time for questions and discussion to hear from the analyst so you know if he/she has understood your presentation and to get valuable information they can offer.

5) Follow up with the analyst. It’s amazing that many times after a vendor expends extensive effort to find and brief an analyst, they do nothing to follow up after their initial call. Companies should continue to build the relationship by keeping analysts aware of news and asking for their opinions or ideas when appropriate. It is a fallacy that analysts will only give ideas to paying clients. While paying vendor clients do receive more involved interactions, most analysts are willing to have meaningful discussions with non-paying vendors after a briefing. Companies should strive to build memorable connections with analysts which are achieved by faithful, honest and interesting communications.

Bottom line: analysts are top influencers with your customers and among industry peers – nothing should be spared in applying correct etiquette to ensure you make the most of your valuable time with these high-powered people.

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The ABCs of Industry Analyst Briefings

ABCs of Industry Analyst RelationsBriefing technology industry analysts is a learned art rather than a formulaic science.
The main objective is to connect with the analysts so they understand your company and solution enough to describe it accurately to others. Some of these “others” include journalists and potential customers who may subscribe to an analyst service. While this objective seems quite straightforward, the desired result is often not achieved.

In this post we’ll discuss best practices for briefing industry analysts to help make sure your company connects the dots with these top influencers.

A) Get the Right Analyst While it seems obvious, analysts sometimes are pulled into briefings when they do not belong there. This can be quite embarrassing and/or irritating for all parties involved. Good analyst relations programs start by identifying a list of top candidates with proper research and adequate planning. You can learn about most analysts by looking at their biography on the analyst Web site, reading their quotes in the trade press or following their social media updates. Not doing so shows a lack of preparation.

B) Know the Analyst Firm While most people in the technology business know the profiles of the largest advisory firms, it’s important to be well versed on smaller firms you decide to target. Every firm is different: Many only do work for vendors while others sell research reports. While some focus on quantitative research, others only do qualitative analysis, and some do both. It’s important to learn about these nuances to ensure your analyst briefings reflect knowledge of the firm you are briefing and to best leverage the unique benefits of each opportunity.

C) Prepare the Analyst Do not assume any analyst knows about your company or product. A briefing always goes better when the analyst has time before the discussion to learn about your company. This gives the analyst a chance to think through what you do and is better prepared to ask relevant questions. Vendors or their PR agencies need to provide information to analysts ahead of time including links to recent press releases of significance. They should also provide the analyst with names and titles of people that will be participating in the briefing. If the analyst is not prepared with this basic info, the briefing is more awkward, more time is wasted on background discussion and the analyst is less likely to be prepared to add much value, which is not ideal.

D) Bring the Right People from your Company It’s important to select the best and most relevant spokespeople from your company to attend an analyst briefing. Things to consider when deciding who should attend a call include: the analyst’s seniority, level of technical expertise, vertical industry, and their coverage areas. You should limit company attendees to 2-3 people at the most and offer follow-up communications with other members on the team if necessary.

E) Include Proper Introductions When hosting a briefing, take the time for proper introductions before jumping into your company spiel. Nothing is more awkward than when a company representative launches into slide ware before everyone on the call has a chance to be introduced. While the better analysts will interrupt and suggest introductions, some will not. For the best results, make sure the analyst knows who is on the call and their specific role/s in the company. Also, make sure you let the analyst provide a brief summary of his/her background , coverage areas and specific items of interest before you start, so ideally you can gear the conversation accordingly.

Bottom line, analysts influence people in the business and it is important to be sure they have an accurate perspective on your company and solutions. In next week’s post, we’ll look at more tips to help you make the most of your analyst briefings.