Analyst consulting days (aka SAS or strategic advisory service in Gartnerese) have a high risk/reward profile for vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. We often receive questions from AR practitioners asking why AR would want to spend the money on an analyst consulting day.
It is important to remember that building strong analyst relationships requires a mix of interaction types. You cannot achieve your objectives using only briefings and inquiry. Consulting days can have significant benefits when done correctly. Because there are different reasons for purchasing analyst consulting days from the firms, vendors need to clarify the goals they want to pursue through buying consulting days. The shotgun approach of “we’ll just throw some more money at them by buying consulting time” rarely succeeds in genuinely increasing an analyst’s positive perception of a vendor.
The various reasons why vendors choose to do consulting days vary in real value:
- Building stronger relationships with your key analysts can rate as high value when done correctly
- To review strategy and product direction or to provide a deep dive style uninterrupted briefing can rate as high value when carefully planned – or be a total waste of resources if not well executed
- Using a consulting day to provide a high profile speaker for an extended marketing event can motivate attendees to better understand the market and be coupled with executive relationship building to produce high value.
- A product-related consulting day done with the product groups can strengthen AR’s position within the organisations, build credibility with both company executives and analysts, and improve the product group’s understanding of the analysts. You might even be able to get them to pick up the tab.
It is also important to note that analyst consulting days are never effective as:
- A method for gathering market and customer intelligence
- A replacement for a well-planned briefing
- A bribe to the analyst to get them to change their minds.
If executed properly, analyst consulting days can provide the information and executive access that can help change an analyst’s opinion, especially when combined with other interactions over time. However, merely writing a check for the consulting day fee is not an instant and easy way to change an opinion. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for changing an analyst’s opinion.
Kea Company Advice:
- Consulting days should have clearly articulated objectives
- AR teams should carefully review the reasons for buying an analyst consulting day
- Effective consulting days are the result of good planning and appropriate use of resources
- If not initiated by AR, teams should tactfully probe the motivation of an executive or product manager who is requesting an analyst consulting day. If it appears the requester thinks that the day can be a “bribe” then AR needs to educate the requester that this is inappropriate
Bottom Line: Kea Company strongly recommends that vendors determine their goals before they buy analyst consulting days. While a mixture of the goals is certainly possible, being clear about what you are after can lead to more valuable results. In each case, the vendor should also consider whether pursuing other options would achieve the same or better results. Once a consulting day is chosen it is critical to apply appropriate resources to planning and execution. High value consults don’t just happen.
More questions? Let me know.
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