Despite the rise of B2B influencers, our increased ability to connect to buyers through social selling and content marketing, the big analyst firms, like Forrester, Gartner, and IDC are still hugely influential in shaping software categories and markets, especially in the risk-averse world of the big corporates.
Despite what the cynics might suggest it’s not “pay to play”, smaller vendors can brief analysts, access and influence aren’t just for those paying a hefty subscription. It’s an analyst’s job to be curious to understand the market, and they will usually welcome the conversation.
Of course, this is only a briefing; you won’t be able to ask questions or get any feedback, although an enthusiastic analyst may not be able to help themselves, I once dined out for years on a little titbit dropped by a Gartner analyst after a briefing. If you want to get properly engaged, you will need to subscribe.
But, first, there is the briefing, and here are ten tips I’ve learned from a couple of decades of experience of analysts relations from both sides of the table:
#1 – Don’t sell the pain
It’s a sales pitch, and it isn’t. Good sales practice is that you need to market and sell the problem you are solving to discover pain in an organization. Therefore, a pitch to a client includes a chunk of the presentation talking about the change in the world, client education, or discovery of the pain. A good analyst will already know the problem the solutions in their category solve and will hear this in every briefing, so skip this and focus on you.
#2 -Focus on outcomes
OK, maybe not focus on you, all that stuff about the year the company started, the number of offices or staff you have, or even your approach to the problem comes later. Focus on tangible outcomes your clients have seen through great case studies (and we have some tips on creating case studies). Analysts crave case studies as it validates not only you but also their research and the benefits of this category as a whole. This then gives you permission to tell the story of how that sausage got its sizzle, how you achieved that outcome, and talk about you.
#3 – Focus on the difference
As with client pitches, while the products we market and sell have got way more complicated and feature-rich, the time we have to demonstrate them remains the same. Don’t focus on whatever the “table stakes” are for your industry category; focus on what’s different about your product, point of view, or approach.
#4 – Be authentic
Analysts are wary, or even skeptical of bold claims, and it’s easy to get busted. If you share figures, make sure they have proper attribution associated with them. Be clear about which part of that huge organization you claim to be working with is using your solution (if it’s a big brand, they may know someone). And, analysts know that no solution is perfect, so be human about it, turn the selling down a little.
#5 – The analyst knows the competitors better than you do
Tricky one this. If the analyst doesn’t know you, it’s natural to frame your company within the category using competitors, “we are like Xyz, only different”. It’s easy to think you know the competition well, but be careful what you say. You could end up undermining your credibility if you get this wrong, seem arrogant about a vendor the analyst might rate highly, or you could distract the analyst into debating the competition, not focusing on you.
#6 – There are ALWAYS competitors
To the previous point, it’s tempting instead to say that there are no competitors as you feel strongly that your approach is unique. That might be true, but if you are briefing a significant analyst firm, the category will be mature enough to have other players, even if (in your view) it’s using the wrong product in a workaround. Your job is then to influence the analyst to consider your points of difference to be important in defining the category, and how they judge these other solutions, who are competitors.
#7 -Respect the analyst and their work
I wasn’t sure what to call this point. Make sure you look the analyst up on LinkedIn (and that the whole briefing team does) read the research you can get access to, think about your point of view of that research so that you can demonstrate you’ve read it. When you’ve done your research, you can frame your briefing around the things they care about and be immediately relevant. Oh.. and don’t quote other analysts or rival firms, not just that it’s bad form to mention a competitor, but many analysts are sensitive about following other analysts.
#8 -Don’t boil the ocean
An analyst briefing is just part of an influencer journey. If it’s your first, its an introduction that should leave them wanting more; don’t try and cram everything into 100 slides and race through it. Consider the few points you would like the analyst to take away from each session.
#9 -Think about what the analyst wants
Analysts are humans, trying to hustle along just like you. They have targets, goals, research to complete, and probably competition for credibility in their coverage area. Think about how you can help with that research; can you introduce them to a client that can help them, share a case study that validates the category or some independent research?
#10 -Demo the product (and make sure it works)
Weird to have to write this, but when I was an analyst many vendors would just show up with slides and spend the briefing talking about the problem and their approach, we had to tell vendors we wanted to see the product when we booked the briefings. When doing a demo, keep it tight, relevant to the analyst’s area of research, the points you want to get across, and your differentiation.
Avoid the harbor tour of clicking on every feature, focusing on the features you are most proud of or insist on showing those parts of the demo you spent all night preparing if these things aren’t relevant. Trust me; I’ve been there.
Bonus tip: This is the first date in what may become a long relationship, both for you personally and for your company. Don’t just show up for the scheduled briefings and do nothing in between, nurture the relationship on social and with email updates when you have something worth sharing.
Best of luck!
Oh and if you need a hand, give us a shout for a free consultation.