Many communications and IT vendors executives are really not informed about the IT Industry analysts. They often believe one or more the Analyst Myths. Frequently, tech vendor executives also view the analysts as predators or, worse, as irrelevant. This can both lead to lack of support for the Analyst Relations team and to a reduced effectiveness in using the executives as spokespeople.
As we have said, the most important currency to the analysts is information. Getting that information directly from the CEO or other executives adds credibility and promotes the relationship you are attempting to build. As a consequence, it is in the AR team’s best interest to improve their executives’ understanding of the analysts from their role in the tech marketplace to how they impact the vendor’s revenues to how best to interact with the analysts.
Besides improving the ability of executives to act as spokespeople, providing executives with training also enhances the AR team’s opportunity to build a strong sponsorship program. When executives better understand the role of the analysts in the marketplace, they will better understand the role and business value of a best-in-class AR program. One goal is to develop a sense of urgency that this is a critical issue to be addressed. Another goal is to cultivate the understanding of what tech vendors can do to leverage positive analyst research and mitigate negative commentary. This leads to a sense that practical actions are possible. While not guaranteed to lead to a stronger appreciation of AR and deeper investment in influencing the analysts, a better understanding of the analysts provides AR a more solid foundation for growth.
So what are the best ways to prepare your executives to interact with the analysts?
Knowledge about the analysts
First and foremost you need to inform your executives, from CEO down, on concepts such as what kinds of information the analysts seek, how the analysts conduct business, and the impact of the analyst on your revenue. They should be aware of the current relationships with the key analysts in your market, their personal styles, and perception of your company. Explain the research process and emphasize that spoken word is more critical than the written research.
The goal is for executives to understand this is not a pay-for-play game, and that analysts can indeed impact revenues in a positive way. This leads to the understanding that changes occur slowly and you will need their ongoing support to change perceptions and maintain relationships.
Spokesperson best practices
It is common for PR to conduct media training exercises with all levels of spokespeople – from the top executives to the product managers that may speak to the press. Often there is an assumption those activities sufficiently cover analyst relations. This can lead to problems when spokespeople don’t understand analyst needs and treat analysts as press. If your spokesperson is focused on short-term announcement materials, sound bites, obtaining quotes, and avoiding sensitive materials they will miss the opportunities to gain strategic advantages. Analysts will find the briefings one-sided and lacking in information they can use for their clients.
Analyst Relations spokesperson training should focus on how to place your products and services in context, providing strategy, futures, and some non-disclosure information. Spokespeople need to be comfortable with analyst questions, criticism, and suggestions. Practicing good techniques to overcome objections or field negative commentary should also be highlighted.
Information is currency
AR Teams know that the information your executives provide is the currency that buys a great relationship. While some people claim that executives cannot be “trained” our experience is that good executives appreciate the guidance and feedback that will make them more effective. If you can create focused training that produces results quickly your executives will respond and your AR program will improve.
- Develop an executive training program with materials – focused and efficient
- Maintain current analyst lists and their perceptions, with examples, to inform executives
- Always provide analyst background information prior to an interaction – train your spokespeople to use it
- Provide feedback after interactions as part of the training program
- Keep it simple and relevant and show executives the results and improvements
Bottom Line: Analysts impact your revenues and a well trained spokesperson can take advantage of their influence. It is critical that your executives understand the analyst landscape, their impacts, and how best to interaction with them in different situations.
Question: AR Teams: Do you have a formal executive training? When and how do you conduct it?
Don’t have an executive or spokesperson training program? SageCircle can help you build one – Our strategists can:
- Conduct executive briefings on the impact of the analysts
- Provide specific spokesperson training tuned to analyst relations
- Assist in creating a complete and customized training program
Visit www.sagecircle.com and click on Executive Briefings to learn more about SageCircle’s services. Or, call 650-274-8309 to speak with a representative about how SageCircle can help you take your AR program to the next level.