Part 1 of 4
Analyst relations deep dive
Industry analysts are “influencers”. You get that. But who, what and where do they influence?
Start by looking at the buying cycle or sales cycle in a typical technology sale and match where analysts are engaged. In large enterprises, the buying cycle comprises the same stages.
At the start of the cycle is Problem Identification, where personnel within the enterprise decide that they have an issue that they need to fix. The cycle goes through a couple more stages before arriving at Selection.
It is at these “bookends” of the buying cycle where analysts play the biggest roles.
Analysts’ Role in Problem Identification
Enterprises do not necessarily think they are commencing a buying cycle at this stage, though effectively they are. When enterprises pick analysts’ brains about the issues that they are facing, the analysts will be helping to identify the problems in terms that they can address through cultural, technological or business model evolution. This can be done as a direct consultation or simply through personnel reading analyst reports and thinking “Yes, that’s exactly the challenge we face.”
Depending upon the strength of the enterprise/analyst relationship, they can move together into the next stage of the buying cycle: Criteria selection. At this stage, enterprises are writing down the criteria they need to be included in any solution to their problem. If they are working together, the analyst will be using their focused expertise and market understanding to help ensure that the company is looking at all the right elements to include in any RFPs.
Analysts’ Role in Selection
Although defining the problem and the scope of the problem is important, the selection is where analysts have a “make or break” role for the vendors involved in the process. Unsurprisingly, large, conservative enterprises want a trusted third-party to “rubberstamp” their final choice or help them whittle down their shortlist.
This can be done through a direct consultation or by personnel reading pre-written reports. In the case of reading reports, the formerly favorite vendor can lose the sale because they do not appear in a respected analyst’s report, or indeed, they appear in the report, but not in a favorable light.
Admittedly, the quick hit of a press release and the resulting coverage is comforting for vendor marketing teams and their bosses. However when you consider analysts’ vital role in large technology buying cycles, high quality analyst relations has to be close to the top of the priority list.