This means that building a positive track record with the analyst community may be crucial to your business success. However, this can’t be achieved in a single showcase moment – it takes time, a long view and knowing what they want and when to provide it.
Take a long view
Many suppliers and outsourcers submitting to analyst assessments and industry reports are disappointed with the results and lose interest. However, when considering the complexity and scope of an analyst’s work in preparing and delivering each assessment, it’s easy to see how even good candidates can get lost in the noise — particularly if they are small or medium-sized vendors.
The answer is to consider the long term and, rather like Chinese water torture, view creating an impression with analysts as an aggregation of drips (no reference to the analysts). Become continuously visible throughout the analyst year, not just during the current assessment process. Start preparing for the next report as soon as the current one is published because the clock is already ticking and gathering the required body of fact-based evidence of success will take time.
What to tell them
Analysts respond to facts so gather material that demonstrates both success and appropriate weakness. Don’t be afraid of admitting to some gaps – they will respect a balanced picture. Line up references and customer success stories. Commission a market survey if it strengthens your credibility and affirms your business strategy. Above all make sure you have clear, clean, presentable internal data relating to sales, marketing and financial performance.
Engage analysts early
If you think analysts in your specialisation have a wrong or incomplete understanding of the sector, then re-educate them – positively and with supporting evidence. But do it early in the cycle so that the next report will be based on a framework and range of categories that favour your approach. The longer you leave it, the less chance of influencing the analyst’s view of your market issues and priorities.
If you’re small be smart
All this may seem achievable for big corporations with plenty of money and resources, but what about SMEs? If you can’t slug it out toe-to-toe, be smart about how and when you gather and deploy evidence. The fewer resources available, the more important it is to prepare early. As with any company, you need a compelling story, a plan and a pack of evidence.
The formal process
The formal assessment process schedule begins with a list of pro forma questions (in some cases in the hundreds) and may include a product demo and/or briefing. But it is unlikely to allow for newly initiated research into customer views, case stories or market requirements – this must be already waiting in the wings. This means that only a long-term view and year-round application is likely to make the right impression, and one that lasts.
Simon Levin is managing director of The Skills Connection