Darwin’s Buyers’ Guide: Get the most from analyst services

Get the most from the analyst services you buy by following these tips

Discover the specialty. | Most of the analyst companies have a dizzyingly comprehensive list of services, but they all have individual strengths and weaknesses. Check out the history of the company and find out what it did when it started. Chances are, the subjects it covered at the beginning remain its strengths today.

Check for depth. | Find out which analysts cover your specific industry, read their reports and meet with them. If the company doesn’t have vertical industry expertise, you won’t have help when you really need it.

Get a mix of opinion. | Most of the companies we spoke to subscribe to at least two different analyst companies’ offerings to compare opinions and monitor for vendor biases.

Watch for slicing and dicing of services. | As technology options grow, the analyst companies are fond of splitting a single subscription service into two and charging for both of them. Decide which services you will need before buying and try to negotiate a package deal.

Pool your buying. | Analyst company salespeople may try to hide your other divisions’ subscriptions from you. Do a company census to determine whether there are any duplicate subscriptions and pare them down to one shared resource.

Negotiate for price. | Unlike magazine subscriptions, analyst company subscriptions are flexible. Try to catch analyst company salespeople at the end of the month or the quarter or the fiscal year. They are more likely to cut deals to pump up their quotas. If you can’t get lower prices, try to get them to throw in extra services.

Bid out the services at renewal time. | Most companies renew their subscriptions with analyst companies automatically. Let them know that you will be entertaining bids from their arch competitors, and you may get a better renewal rate.

This Darwin magazine feature, offline since 2007, first appeared in 2001.

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