The real value of conversing with and building a working relationship with the IT Analyst Community isn’t to try to get a ‘good quote’ in the press or an honorable mention in their reports; it’s to bring the most reputable IT Analysts into the sales process with your prospects.
This can be done with a mixture of diplomacy, professionalism, and well explained expectations from the seller to both the potential customer base and to IT Analysts themselves. It’s important to take a pragmatic, step-by-step approach when you develop a marketing and sales plan around bringing the analysts in to talk with your customers.
Target The IT Analysts With Whom You Want To Work
Create a Magic Quadrant of your own and place the analysts in each quadrant stating who is favorable with your clients, your company and you personally. Who personally shares your alignment with the business or industry you are targeting? Likewise, state in your plan which IT analyst are unfavorable, as well as neutral with your industry and customer base. I offer two caveats to this step: 1) I said “IT Analyst”, not “Firm”; it’s not good enough to list off “Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, etc.,” You have to get granular down to the IT analysts that you think are the most influential. 2) Keep this list HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL. Never share with an IT Analyst your plans to work with another individual or firm. They don’t want to know; and if you do share it, it’s a personal insult.
Start Cyberstalking Your Targeted IT Analysts
Get to know the IT Analysts. Who do they write about and what key areas do they focus on? Validate every assumption you make about how they view IT. See who they have written case studies about; and which vendors they have given honorable mention to in their reports. IT Analysts on your target list should be focusing on your customers’ business problems and making open suggestions and recommendations on how to solve their business challenges. If your targeted analysts are talking only about the vendors and your competitors, take warning, they are really “seller” analysts, not “buyer” analysts. “Buyer” analysts focus on your customers. They have your customers’ respect and attention. Target the analysts who influence your customers and truly understand their business concerns. After a thorough session of cyberstalking, review and revise Step One before continuing to Step Three.
Build A Strong Relationship With Your Targeted Analysts
This is where most people screw up. Typically one of two approaches is taken, and they are both wrong: 1) The Sales Approach; and 2) The PR Approach.
The Sales Approach is taken when an executive treats the analyst like a potential client. They aren’t. They don’t want friendly emails from you asking to meet with them when you are ‘in the neighborhood.’ Buyer IT Analysts want to talk to buyers, not sellers. Talking to sellers is a necessity, but most IT analysts hate vendor briefings because sellers often take a sales approach of demonstrating product. They learn more by talking with buyers, and they spend all day on the phone talking to them to understand their pains and challenges. That’s where they gain their insight and perspective.
The PR Approach is just as deadly to a vendor as the Sales Approach. It is treating an IT analyst like they are a member of the press. Again, they aren’t. If you are planning a media blitz, it’s common courtesy to brief your targeted analysts FIRST, not IN ADDITION TO your targeted press/reporters. Analysts expect you to brief them first so they are not caught off guard when they get a call from a reporter. Avoid these pitfalls by providing the analysts with case studies; customer references; and insights from your customer base that you can pass on to them which they can verify or validate through their contacts. They expect an educated and informed two-way communication from you in EVERY interaction (which is always pre-arranged through their administrative support).
Determine Which Analysts You Can Take To Your Customer Base–And How
This should be a very short list of the Best of the Best—the analysts you have the best relationship with and who you believe will have the most impact with your existing and potential customers is the One. Next, decide how you can leverage their presence with your customers. It can be a timely conference call or webinar, or it can be an industry conference or your company’s customer meeting or conference.
Work With The Analyst And Their Firm To Create A Communications Plan Around Your Next Event
If you are planning a conference, give the analyst the opportunity to meet with your customers 1:1. Your AR Professional needs to be present at every meeting. I’ve set up back-to-back meetings between analysts and customers at conferences. This is where the selling happens! Have your support staff available and meticulously document everything for you to follow-up with the customers.
These steps I’ve outlined are basic and straightforward, but they are fraught with landmines for vendors. I strongly recommend that you engage an experienced AR professional to lead your AR activities. I have watched senior VP’s of major companies apologize for badly scheduled meetings. AR is in a league of its own. AR Practice is separate from PR and Sales; yet should be tied closely to revenue generation and corporate brand positioning. If you follow these steps and navigate through the minefield with an experienced AR Practitioner, you’re on your way to leveraging the analyst community to generate revenue in both the short and long-term for your business.
Join Thomas Ward Lynch, CEO and Founder, Empire Media Partners, as he discusses “Effectively Leveraging and Engaging the Analyst Community in the Sales Process” during DemandCon Boston. He’ll show you how to bring the IT analyst community into your sales cycle and closing process, giving you the power to tap into this incredibly influential group. Register now and we’ll see you in Boston!