Candor is an important tool for vendors to use when talking with industry analysts because it builds credibility and relationships. On the other hand, vendors that only talk about happy topics and put a rosy glow on everything can do significant damage to their credibility. I am not suggesting that vendors air their dirty laundry with the analysts. Rather, vendors should discuss real and known risks with products or markets and how to manage those risks. Frankly, the analysts are probably hearing all the downsides related to your products or services from IT managers already so why not demonstrate you are on top of situation?
One of the big services that IT analysts offer end users (typically IT managers) is help with managing the risks of technology: the risks of acquiring, deploying, managing and retiring products and services. Every technology product or service has problems such as laptops needing security or data warehouse projects grappling with data pollution. While it easy for the analysts to hear about risks or problems, it is not so certain they will hear about how to manage those risks (see Analyst myths revisited – “Analysts know everything” still #1 for IT managers and vendors). Thus, vendors can be doing themselves and their market a favor by having a frank conversation with analysts about risks and how to manage them.
SageCircle Technique: This conversation can be in the form of a briefing, probably 30 to 60 minutes long. The spokesperson could be an executive or someone in services who deals with helping customers mitigate risks on a daily basis. Provide your content in an unlocked format like Word or PowerPoint that makes it easy for the analyst to copy it into a research note or blog post. Suggested agenda:
1. Discuss the risks. Make it a dialog and see if you can come to a consensus on all the risks, not just the ones you see.
2. Discuss how the risks can be managed. Again make this a dialog.
3. Summarize with a snappy phase like “The Top 3 Ways to Avoid ____” or the “The Three ‘R’s to Prepare for a _____ Installation.” Keep the phase short and easy for the analyst to repeat. Try for alliteration or parallelism.
4. Wrap Up with a review of what was discussed, conclusions, any follow ups that were promised by you or the analyst and whether the analyst will be publishing a note on the topic.
BTW, analysts love risk management conversations because they can leverage the insights into research notes and phone inquiries to become heroes to their end-user clients. While some vendor executives complain that the analysts are “stealing” their ideas, helping an analyst be a hero helps the vendor in both the short and long runs. Also, by providing the analyst the information tailored to your situation you gain the advantage of completeness and accuracy – as compared to the way it may be conveyed by a competitor or an unhappy customer.
Bottom Line: Candor is a powerful tool for building credibility and relationships. A relatively safe topic to discuss in a candid manner is risk management for products or services. Make sure to provide a crisp and easy-to-repeat list of ways for end users to avoid whatever risks you are discussing.
Questions: Analysts – Do vendors conduct risk management conversations with you? Vendors – Do you feel comfortable discussing risks about your products or markets? IT managers – Do you want more tips and tricks about how to manage the risks associated with technology?
Shameless marketing pitch – If you need advice about how to do a briefing on risk management, check out SageCircle’s two-hour and five-hour advisory paks or Annual Advisory Service. The advisory paks are easy to setup and pay for via credit card. We can help you evaluate the approach to take, discuss how to conduct the briefing, review your message, critique your content and prepare your spokespeople. For more information, visit our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-274-8309.
Since 2000, SageCircle has helped analyst relations teams to focus on business value by encouraging innovative thinking that leverages insights and drives revenue.