In any business environment, the phrase ‘best practice’ sooner or later comes up when people are talking about planning, execution and measurement of business activities. According to Wikipedia, “a best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a “best” practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered.”
So the concept is pretty straight forward but establishing what constitutes best practice in a specific context is anything but easy. In addition, even knowing what the ‘best practices’ are doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how actually to implement them in your specific environment. In today’s blog post, we want to look at ‘best practices in the context of analyst relations.
Getting started with analyst relations can prove quite challenging if a company does not have any previous experience dealing with analyst companies. The number of analysts covering a specific technology niche is usually limited, so it is tough to get started and learn to do the job while you are doing it. The chances are that you will end up making some serious mistakes which – given the limited audience size – will prove to be very hard to correct. We have listened in and helped prepare dozens of vendor presentations and analyst meetings. It is fair to say that the range of professionalism we have seen varies greatly. So working out the ‘best practices on your own will mean that you are taking quite a risk with your company’s reputation.
What do we do when we don’t know what to do? Right, you hire an expert who knows how things need to be done. Based on our experience, this will not ensure that you are executing ‘best practices’. Knowing what works and what doesn’t and understanding the agenda of the various analyst firms and the individual analysts only help to a certain degree. In our opinion, ‘best practices’ in analyst relations are not based on finding that one “magic” bullet. Doing analyst relations this way is a static approach that amounts to pushing (un-customized) information in the direction of your target analysts without really building a relationship. It is our opinion that the ‘best practices’ for a vendor are a very individual thing that depends on the available resources (time, money and expertise) a company can spare for analyst relations, the technology niche the vendor is active in and the agility of the vendor (both in terms of innovation and in terms of growing the business). When balancing these factors, you will develop an analyst relations program to reach the analysts and convince them. Having worked with many vendors throughout our time at multiple analyst firms and now as a specialist analyst relations consultancy, we have seen some good and quite a few bad examples, which have brought us to the conclusion that there is no way you can completely outsource your analyst relations program. Any genuinely successful analyst relations program will always be a highly customised joined effort that combines the know-how of the analyst landscape with the specific inside knowledge about your company. More than anything, this means that ‘best practices’ in analyst relations are based on building the right team with both internal and external parties and staying flexible enough to adapt to changes in the market and analyst perception.
So if you are willing to compete in the field of analyst relations, make sure that you are well prepared and have all the resources in place to win the game. Trying to find the right way without staying engaged will not be enough when you are competing on a global level and when messing things up might mean that you won’t get a second chance to fix things.