By Andrew Hsu
Technology buyers and strategists within the Fortune 500 routinely trust industry analysts — such as those at Gartner, Forrester, and several other firms — for counsel on everything from present-day best practices to long-term strategy. It’s analysts’ job to help their clients succeed and bring clarity to the challenges of digital evolution. Yet, many tech companies fail to engage with analysts effectively, if at all. By neglecting these relationships, far too many companies miss out on market recognition and opportunities to reach new prospects.
Analysts Are Often Misunderstood
Technology vendors that fail to embrace and engage the analyst channel typically fall into one of two camps:
- Those that simply lack awareness of analysts’ influence
- Those that harbor misconceptions about how analysts work
Its not just emerging tech companies that are under- or misinformed. Even established companies often fail to reach out to analysts because of false assumptions. Examples of this include the notion that analysts only cover the biggest tech companies or only the highest-spending subscribers to the analyst firm. Also, some technology leaders worry that analysts will reveal their most closely guarded secrets.
It’s important to understand that analysts are advocates — not enemies — for tech companies. Analysts are journalist/academic hybrids tasked to spot and investigate trends in an incredibly crowded marketplace. Part of that job includes knowing and bringing attention to meaningful players with valuable, innovative solutions. This need to know the market requires constant interactions with vendors, so analysts are accustomed to maintaining the confidentiality of those interactions.
How Analysts Can Help You Accelerate Growth
Industry analysts serve an important function in the technology landscape: They provide informed, expert opinions that help big companies make better buying decisions. Vendors that know how to build the right relationships with the right analysts in the right manner have a real advantage in the marketplace. Analysts also help technology companies by:
- Setting your solution apart. Tech categories are often crowded with vendors that can look very similar to under-informed buyers. Analysts understand vendors in depth and help buyers navigate the nuances that differentiate one solution from others in the marketplace.
- Generating attention. Third-party credibility goes a long way anywhere, especially in the tech industry. Analysts frequently make recommendations that steer buying decisions and generate reports that can translate into mainstream attention and adoption. Any analyst drawing attention to your company is a huge step toward establishing yourself as a safe investment.
- Getting more at bats. Fortune 1,000 companies consistently turn to the analyst community for recommendations when they’re trying to solve problems, so the right analyst relationships can often provide the qualified opportunities needed to accelerate your company’s growth.
- Refining your strategy. Because of their experience and insights, analysts can be great assets as super-informed external sounding boards. Keep your efforts on track by constantly checking in with them on both the quality of your company’s vision and its ability to execute.
How to Start Engaging the Analyst Channel
As you begin investigating the viability of making a concerted investment in analyst relations, here are a few tips for getting started:
- Do your research. There are many research firms out there, so do your homework to find out which are most influential with your target buyers. Browse websites and review report titles, search Google using the names of your top competitors and the research firms in the same string, and ask your prospects which analysts they read and trust.
- Make contact. Once you’ve compiled a short list of firms, it’s time to reach out. Lean on your sales rep to understand the target audience and emphasis of the research. Ask the sales rep to set up conversations with a couple of different analysts; it’s not uncommon for the first interaction to fall flat. The sales teams aren’t subject-matter experts, so matchmaking typically requires a bit of trial and error.
- Build a partnership. Great analyst relationships are two-way partnerships. Start by telling analysts about your products and strategy, but also lean on your analysts early in product discussions to stress test your concepts. Keep the conversation going by sharing news of your wins and conveying lessons learned from your struggles.
- Nurture your relationship. The most influential analysts are often buried under the heaviest speaking and research workloads, so it’s important to stay top of mind so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Engage them regularly, and work toward building a productive relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
Engaging the analyst channel is something you might not have considered before, but if you’re not tapping into these influential voices in tech, you’re missing out on publicity, positive word of mouth, and expert insights. Make it a priority to connect with the right analysts to give your company the competitive edge it deserves.
Andrew Hsu is the co-founder and managing partner of Spotlight Analyst Relations. Spotlight connects digital agencies and technology vendors with influential industry analysts to create meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. Find out how they make it happen here.