Uncovering an analyst’s perception of your business can feel a bit like searching for hidden treasure. You know their real beliefs are there, but they may not be obvious to you. Your executives and product team look to you to help translate the state of your analyst relationships. Do you have active advocates in the analyst community? Are some skeptics? Do you know?
Read on to see what we’ve found that has helped our clients discover their current state of relationship maturity with their key analysts, as well as the beliefs and skepticisms the analyst holds of their capabilities.
Read the analyst’s research, and also read into the research
Start with the company write ups in vendor ranking evaluation reports
Industry analysts have a responsibility to form opinions about market solutions. They also have a responsibility to deliver those opinions with professionalism and tact.
A natural start to uncovering an analyst’s perception is to read their write up of you in the last ranking evaluation research in which you were included. This write up gives you a starting point of what items they care to call out as your strengths, and what other items they see as your weakness.
While the language used will likely be uncolored and lacking adjectives, remember that this absence of expression is intentional. Analysts have to be political in their write ups, and err on the side of detached, neutral commentary. This lingual safety is great for helping the analyst navigate vendor reactions, but it does not provide any enlightenment of their true skepticisms or advocacy of your business.
Layer on insights from the market overview and evaluation criteria weightings
If you only read the company write ups of an evaluation report, you’re missing out on major clues from the analyst author. The market overview section is your guide map of what’s to come from that analyst, and the evaluation criteria weighting indicates what the analyst truly values. If you read it critically, you can determine:
- Where the analyst places emphasis today
- Where the trends are going
- What they’re planning to focus on in the next iteration
- What capabilities they feel have become table stakes.
Comparing your write up to the weightings and the market overview may offer some insight as to how the analyst actually feels about your company. If your strengths match up with their future predictions and what they assess as most important, then you’re probably viewed very positively by the analyst. If your weaknesses are mentioned as upcoming trends, it’s likely the analyst feels you fall behind the others. This could be a sign that you will do poorly in the next version of the evaluation if you do not change your strategy and offerings. Make note of the content overlaps and gaps in these sections of the report as they may reveal an analyst’s true beliefs about you.
Use advisory days and your inquiry line to enrich your understanding of the research
After you analyze what’s been written, we recommend taking it one step further with your key analysts. Show them that you’ve done your homework, and use your understanding of what he or she has written as a baseline for the following action items:
Request a SWOT analysis
You can use advisory days to gauge an analysts’ perception of you beyond decoding what they’ve written. If you want to unpack your write up further, understand their research leaning in greater detail, or if you haven’t qualified yet to be included in the evaluative research, this tactic can be extremely valuable.
When you schedule the advisory session, request a SWOT analysis from the analyst on you and your competitors. He or she will come prepared to discuss where they feel you fit in the market, and you’ll be able to gauge their perception of you within the course of the day. Plus, the analyst will unpack SWOT analyses of your competitors, allowing you to have another vantage point of how they see the world of vendors moving in your market. Conversations like these will give you direct insight into not only what they feel are your strengths and weaknesses and where the market is headed, but also where they fall on your path to making them advocates.
Get on the phone and ask open-ended questions
If you don’t have time for an advisory day or are strapped because of budget restrictions, you can leverage your inquiry line to gain deeper understanding of an analyst’s perception of you. Asking questions like these on inquiry calls can help generate a perception discussion:
- What do you see as the biggest gaps in our offering?
- Which emerging trends do feel could threaten our business?
- What do you believe are areas where we should be looking to buy/build/partner?
- Who do you see as our ideal customer profile?
- Are your readers asking you questions about the challenge we’re best suited to solve?
- What’s coming out of your inquiry calls about us specifically and our marketing category?
Send the analyst a perception audit survey
Perception audit surveys are a formal investigation of how you are perceived by the analyst community. They are a great way of getting off-the-cuff, quick reactions to a handful of burning questions you have for the analyst. The bonus is that analysts get inquiry credit for completing these, so they typically enjoy filling them out.
Perception audits can deliver rich feedback. They can be used to determine if your message is resonating, if the analyst is an advocate of your capabilities, how often they get questions or recommend you when talking to end users, and can identify perceived areas to improve.
Assess your findings, communicate what you’ve learned, and adjust your strategy
After your deep dive into an analyst’s worldview via reading research, inquiries, advisory days, and/or perception audits, collect your findings into digestible and actionable pieces. Communicate these learnings back to your executives and product teams, encouraging them to lean on the analyst’s expertise and make appropriate, progressive changes based on the analyst’s recommendations.
We’ve found you should also use these learnings to adjust your briefing decks and inquiry questions. Once you learn where an analyst thinks you stand in the market, you can tailor your communications to advance their understanding of the areas they may have misunderstood before. Adjust your briefing deck and talk track to beef up where they think you lack and add emphasis to the parts they feel strongly about. Over time, small adjustments like this will make a big impact in advancing analysts’ perceptions of your business.
Incorporate purpose into your analyst relations planning
Planning AR Activity with Context and Purpose Webinars
At Spotlight, we know that understanding the maturity of an analyst’s relationship with one of our clients is critical to helping them plan interactions that will lead to advocacy. Once you know your current relationship state, then you can plan varied and strategically-timed interactions that move your relationship toward your desired state.
We’ve made our two-part webinar, “Planning AR Activity with Context and Purpose” available on-demand for you to dive deeper into this topic.
In part 1, we offer our solution for how we strategically manage the magnitude of AR activity. In Part 2, we layer on how we account for each interaction’s purpose. Check them out, and download the free planning resources provided.
Watch the Planning with Context Webinar
Watch the Planning with Purpose Webinar
What are your strategies for reading analyst research? Let us know in the comments below.