As even IDC admits in a recent article, analysts’ research and advisory work isn’t the only influence on buyers. However, analysts are the key external influencer on tech buyers (outside the buyers own peer group).
The IDEAL method suggests that there are three elements to identification.
- 1. Identifying the analysts who influence buyers
- 2. Identifying the analysts who influence other stakeholders
- 3. Scoring the analysts, to allow them to be ranked and tiered.
1. Identifying the analysts who influence buyers is the area where most people feel they have the greatest difficulty. There are four or five key tactics being used, and a number of formal research processes integrate one or more of them, including Analyst Impact Modeling.
- Researching the different analyst firms‘ coverage areas is a good place to start. It’s possible to find out if a firm is conducting research in your segment of the market. If you have a contact management systems tracking interactions with analysts, then you’ll know the minority who have been actively contacting you. The AR Intranet, for example, list 500 firms and scores each of them for their degree on research focus on a number of technology areas. You can even go a step forward an start to track planned research. For example, ResearchAgenda (part of the Intranet’s AnalystAgenda option) includes include a global database of recent and forthcoming research.
- Researching individual analysts is a good way to take a step forward. Take a look at their profile, seniority and simply ask them what sort of organizations they are advising.
- Surveying your sales team has to be done carefully: they may not see how it is in their interest to show that AR helps produce sales. However, in firms where Sales really feels that AR supports them, sales professionals can really help firms to understand analyst influence.
- Regional buyer surveys have to be done carefully, because some market research is not better than wild guesses. Business cultures remain very national, and buying behavior differs accordingly, so focus your research on they key markets and balance your sample between the key markets.
- Win/Loss Analysis can also be effective, but we’ve seen that it can also fail badly. The key success factor is to ask the prospective buyer right after they say yes or no – in the week after they decide on your firm’s offer. Only then will you get the best data (that from the people who did not buy from you), because that is the time when they most feel they owe you an explanation — and when your firm might also be able to still turn a loss into a success.
2. Identifying the analysts who influence other stakeholders is a little more straightforward: in particular surveying your media coverage, colleagues, channel partners and the research published by equity analysts tracking your firms will give you powerful data.
3. Scoring the analysts can be done in a number of ways, from objective statistical models through to off-the-cuff subjective scores. We favor the former, because they show the great disparity between different analysts more accurately. Statistical methods make tiering and resource allocation simpler. They also allow separate ranking to be made for different purposes: for example by sales impact, media impact and value to other stakeholders.
What methods do you think firms should be using to identify the right analysts? Please give us your comments and questions.