Never assume during an annual renewal that the analyst service contract remains the same

Annual syndicated research subscriptions are a common approach for enterprises and vendors when it comes to gaining access to published research and advisory. However, for all the value and convenience in this type of contract, there is a potential “gotcha” to watch for during the contract renewal – changes in the terms and conditions.

Often contract renewals follow a simple path of adjusting the number of seats and add-on services based on past year’s usage, new requirements, and new offerings by the firm. Often the analyst firm sales representative will send along the new contract with a note that says “it is basically the same as last year, so please look at pages x and y to make sure we have captured the number of seats and services you need.  Then sign on page z.” If the client does not carefully go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb they might miss that the “basically the same” contract actually has some key changes to the terms and conditions that severely limit their use of the analyst services or gives the analyst firms the right to audit the client for contract compliance. 

In some cases, the firm sales rep does not know that the changes are there, they are simply using the new standard contract. In other cases, the sales rep is aware of the changes but does not […]

Operational framework: The 5 I’s of Analyst Relations

In the bustle of daily activities, it is sometimes hard for analyst relations (AR) managers to keep their teams focused on their key operational activities. SageCircle created the 5 I’s of Analyst Relations to provide an easy mantra of essential activities. The 5 I’s are:

  • Identify — The Most Influential Analysts
    • Ranked and tiered analyst list(s)
    • Continuous research on the analysts’ coverage
  • Interact — In the Correct Ways
    • Mix of one-to-one, one-to-many, none-to-many types
    • Mix of briefings, SAS, relationship meetings and client inquiries
  • Information — Most Appropriate in […]

AR Strategic & Tactical Plan – The Intersection of Many Activities

As is often the case with blog posts, I scan the AR profession and SageCircle’s client work to determine “What’s hot” – i.e. the common theme running though our engagements and inquiries. This time the issue is the AR Strategic & Tactical Plan.  We encounter planning issues when starting an AR Diagnostic; it often comes up in an inquiry or when planning training by saying “Let me see your AR plan”; and clients reviewing our research will exclaim, “This should be incorporated into my AR plan.”   It is significant that we are seeing Strategic & Tactical planning take precedence in practitioners’ minds.

This emphasis is not surprising since AR is an activity-intensive function with scheduled and unscheduled events spread throughout the year. The slowing economies in many countries heighten this emphasis by placing pressure on AR programs to prove their value.  As AR programs take up this challenge and pursue strategic goals such as “Arming Sales to Close Business”, their need for tighter planning increases.  Unfortunately, in performing AR Diagnostics with clients or prospects, we often find that clients answer “No” to the majority of questions in the AR Planning section while answering “Some” or “Yes” on other sections such as “Responding Rapidly to Critical Analyst Opinion.” This is putting the cart before the horse. For example, we know that AR programs will find it more difficult to develop an effective measurement program to […]

Spoon feed analysts public information

This should not have been a surprise to me, but I was shocked when I first started dealing with analysts as an analyst relations (AR) professional with the number of analysts who never bothered to check my company’s public information. Yeah, it was OK that they never read the marketing content on the website. But they also never perused the quarterly financial statements even when they were basing part of their analysis on the financial strength of my employer and very visibility stating the “facts.” Here is an example. 

A Gartner analyst sent me a courtesy review copy of slides for an upcoming Symposium presentation. One the statements on the “Challenges and Strengths” slide was that the margins for a particular business were a “challenge.” Huh? This particular division had consistently improved its margins – year-over-year and quarter-to-quarter – for ten straight quarters. What was going on? That was when the light bulb went “Click!” for me. The analyst had not read the quarterly statements. So I put together a simple table that extracted a few relevant financial facts for the business group going back four years. It showed the challenges the business had early on, but then it illustrated the consistent, never wavering progress for 2.5 years. After reviewing the simple table consisting of public information, the analyst moved margins from “Challenge” to “Strength.”

That was a win for AR, but it outraged me that a former colleague was making public speeches about a company without bothering to check the facts. Yes, perhaps this was a bit naïve of me. Once I took a few deep breaths and calmed down, I set about spoon feeding this analyst and the other Gartner analysts in the same research area the basics about this particular business group’s financials. Every quarter I would add to the aforementioned […]

Do you really want PR to own social media for your company?

icon-social-media-blue.jpgInteresting post by Jason Falls on his Social Media Explorer blog: Social Media Is The Responsibility Of Public Relations.

Oh, really?

SageCircle believes that PR and AR – and other outbound communications functions – have different goals and techniques and each needs to address their tactics to their unique audiences.  This means that AR needs to voice its opinion and support its own needs regarding company policies.

While there is plenty to debate on this issue (e.g., Where does Social Media live in the organization?), the purpose of this post is to encourage analyst relations (AR) teams be active participants in internal discussions about the role of social media in their companies.

SageCircle Technique

  • Educate yourself about social media
  • Determine what role social media will play in AR activities in the near and […]

How closely does AR, PR and Sales have to coordinate?

Here is an interesting comment (click to enlarge) that might portend a problem for technology vendors in the near future:

This reminds me of the discussions in the mid-90’s around the then nascent market category of customer relattionship management (CRM). One of the perceived benefits of CRM was that it would provide companies a single view of the customer that would make life easier for the customer and provide business value to the company. But there was also huge disagreements over who would “own” the customer: customer service, marketing or sales.

Today, people are starting to play multiple roles as customers, influencers, collaborators and […]

Right usage – Drive usage of the services you buy to ensure maximize business value [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 6]

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgPart 6 of the Purchasing Analyst Services series does not directly address buying, but what happens after the contract has been signed. By taking into consideration how you are going to drive usage of the services you buy, enterprise and vendor buyers of analyst services can feed that back into the purchasing process to ensure that you will get the right services from the right firms at the right price and maximize business value from the contracts.

One of the key purchasing mistakes buyers make is not examining past contracts and determining if the services were adequately used. While some larger clients of the analysts will survey users on whether the firms under contract had responsive client service, timely access to analysts, and maybe ask a subjective question about usefulness, they rarely evaluate usage patterns to see if seat holders actually use the services at an optimal level to get business value. If usage by particular seat holders is low, buyers need to reconsider whether or not these seat holders should receive seats at contract renewal time. One of the best ways to save money is to not buy services that do not get used.

In addition to analyzing usage patterns, analyst clients need to evaluate their training programs and their processes used to encourage usage of […]

Right price – Acquire those services that meet your basic requirements [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 5]

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIn the past the way to avoid the price increases that Forrester and Gartner are initiating on a regular basis would be to use the usual purchasing best practices. These include waiting until the last minute before the end of the quarter or better yet end of the fiscal year to finalize a contract, playing one firm off another, signing up for a multi-year contract, and consolidating purchases to obtain a larger discount.

Alas, these techniques are not as effective now with Forrester and Gartner as they were in the past.

While there are hundreds of analyst firms, with some large ones like AMR Research and IDC, the unfortunate reality is that when it comes to the market for end-user advisory analysts, Forrester and Gartner have achieved a de facto duopoly. Because the market for […]