Yes… if you give them a chance to actually speak and if you take the time to ask correctly.
There is a common (mis-)understanding that analysts will only provide opinions if you are a paying client of their firm. So can you get their opinions during a briefing? For the most part, analysts are more than happy to comment on what they hear in a briefing. The primary reasons why they don’t express their opinions are because vendor spokespeople drone on in “monologue mode” and also because vendor participants do not directly ask the analysts for a response. Luckily these are both these situations are easy to correct.
This question came up during the recent AR Effectiveness Seminar.
It is important that AR ask for analyst opinions during briefings for a variety of reasons:
- Effectiveness: Analyst reactions can often indicate whether the message is getting across and it gives the briefing team an opportunity to correct any misperceptions or fill in any gaps immediately
- Focus: If some or all of the analysts are participating by phone, periodically asking analysts what they thought of some statement will ensure that are paying attention and not doing e-mail
- Buy In: Asking the analyst’s opinion and potentially acting on any advice can help fulfill the top of the Hierarchy of Analyst Needs (Impact Strategy), which can lead to significant buy in later
- Educating colleagues: Assuming that the analyst is market savvy, having the analyst participate in the discussion will impress upon company colleagues that analysts can offer true business value leading to later internal buy in to bringing analysts in for a consulting day
The exception to this is Gartner. There has been a policy in place for a few years that Gartnerians will only provide their opinion if all the participants in the briefing are Gartner Advisory seat holders. Many analysts do adhere to the policy. However, there are some Gartner analysts who will offer their opinion regardless of client status. It never to hurts to ask – as the worst that can happen is that they say no. To be safe it is smart to warn your briefing participants about Gartner’s policy so that they do not argue with or badger the analysts if they fail to provide a response.
Regardless of the analyst firm involved getting feedback and analyst opinion during a briefing should not be accidental, but planned into the presentation. Questions do not always have to elicit an opinion. Educate your spokespeople to pause and ensure the analyst agrees or disagrees. Ask pointed questions or at least seek acknowledgement. Ask if they have seen evidence of contrary opinions, options, plans, or results.
- Review the briefing presentation and identify slides where it will be logical to ask the analysts’ opinions about the content
- Assign a participant in the briefing to the role of “questioner”
- Brief all participants on the importance of asking questions and come to an agreement on what topics to focus questions on
- Ensure during the briefing that questions are actually asked
Bottom Line: Asking analysts of their opinions during briefings is a critical best practice. It ensures that analysts are engaged and spokespeople do not fall into monologuing.
AR teams – Do you get push backs from you spokespeople about asking questions? Have you ever had analysts refuse to give their opinions?
Analysts – Do you like to be asked your opinion of the content being presented?