AR gets firms in the room, but it’s the spokespeople who convince

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with Rick Nash discussing AR and Analyst Relationship Maturity. Rick is a Kansas City-based AR leader. Like many, he uses a relationship ladder to track the progress that he makes in building rapport with analysts. I coined the phrase Analyst Relationship Maturity back in 2005 and developed a four-level audit based on that model. I relaunched it in 2009 to take account of social media. Others have used that phrase since then, including Nick Caffarra, John Ladley and Doug Laney, who added a useful initial level to four levels similar to mine.

  1. Analyst is unaware of your existence or the emerging marketplace
  2. Analyst has heard of you. Likely has misperceptions and gross generalizations about your capabilities. Perhaps makes assumptions based on your pedigree or other vendors he thinks you resemble.
  3. Analyst is knowledgeable about your capabilities, differentiators, leadership, business model, and market niche
  4. Analyst is tracking your developments. They think you’re emerging or have emerged as a legitimate player in the market. May mention you to clients as a niche player.
  5. Analyst is telling the world about you. Believes you are redefining or leading the market, and most buyers in your market should consider your solution.

They also added a superfluous level, of regular dialogue, but regularity can be present at any stage. Rick, I think, has taken the idea in quite an interesting direction. His levels correspond to specific actions by the analyst, meaning that the audit method is much less subjective. However, it also produces an interesting possibility: we could measure analysts’ favourability without needing to ask them about their opinions. Rick uses phone calls to check the analysts’ temperature, and that’s how I do it too, but it’s interesting to think how an action-based ladder could work well.

It also reminds me of a point we made last month: winning analyst recommendations is “a whole-of-company endeavour”, to take Richard Steinnon’s phrase. AR folk should deflect final responsibility for analyst research onto the business.

AR can encourage analysts to do things: to take a call, to meet, to take further briefings, to share insight and to involve them in research. But to go much further than this requires a business to be convincing about its value to the analysts’ clients. They can get you up to bat, but it’s the business that has to hit the ball.

Do we meet AR metrics that compare the AR team’s success with that of the spokespeople and wider business?

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