Analyst relations is an essential—and often underutilized by B2B tech startups—tool. We often find that startups are focused on trade shows, digital marketing and media, but they neglect to build an analyst strategy and relationships. People gather buying recommendations from a mix of sources and analyst opinions is a major one in the tech world that should not be ignored.
An early-stage startup lacks credibility as a company. I don’t say this as a bad thing, but you are not proven yet. When a startup is able to attach the credibility of Gartner, Forrester, IDC or a powerful individual analyst to their company, they gain in stature.
As unbiased experts, analysts hold tremendous power. Their influence spans the buyer, investors, partners and journalists. Their word defines industry trends and can impact your company’s status.
What is an analyst?
At the 16,000-foot level, analysts are impartial tech experts focused on a specific area. Through conversations with vendors, customers and research, analysts put together data-driven reports that outline trends, best practices and market guides that detail the market and its major players. These reports are then used by investors and businesses when evaluating technologies and approaches. Contrary to what many believe, the impact of analyst conversations is just as strong as their written reports.
I recently saw a statistic that claimed 40-60% of all technology-purchasing decisions are in some way influenced by analysts. When I went to find the source of that stat, I could not find the actual report; however, even if that number is half, that is still a lot of influence for a handful of people to have over your company.
And analysts are not going away. In fact, market research analysts jobs are projected to grow 32 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for analysts continues to grow, as does their influence.
The influence analysts have
- Reports and market guides: Analyst reports generate new business, investor interest and lead to new customers. Landing a spot in a Gartner MQ, Forrester Wave or IDC MarketScape can have a major impact on sales. If your company positively stands out in an analyst report or RFP, you are well positioned to make your case to potential customers. They can set you up to be a market leader, define your market share and valuation as a company or make you the target for an acquisition. These reports can also be licensed and used in lead generation campaigns.For companies that are defining their own market, getting an analyst who agrees with your vision and aligns a new market around your roadmap could be a game changer. A strong analyst strategy helps an analyst to understand and fill the holes in their own portfolio and reports.
- The analysts’ voice: Outside of writing reports, analysts are consistently taking inquiries from companies looking to get IT insight. Inquiries are like consulting spots. During these conversations, they are coaching companies on their IT selections. While the analysts’ commitment is not to you—it is to making sure the buyer knows their options—making sure they understand your value for these discussions is imperative.Additionally, analysts are often speaking at shows, during webinars, to media, on social media and through other channels. Having a favorable position in the market and relationship with analysts all trickles down to these activities. A public mention of your company from an unbiased analyst can create a lot of buzz.
- Valuable insight: Every firm is different and many require you to pay for a ‘seat’ before you can request your own inquiry time, but it can be extremely valuable to the future of your company. Inquiries, SAS days and Analyst Advisory times enable you to use analysts as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, talk through roadmaps and receive strategic feedback based on the market. Analysts understand the struggle customers are having, and if they are defining the market, it is helpful to understand their vision as you strategically plan. Developing relationships with analysts and having them in your corner pays off in dividends.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of creating an analyst strategy is understanding which analysts you should be speaking with, including determining when and what you should talk about. With that said, an analyst strategy goes well beyond just briefing analysts for an hour every quarter. Interacting with analysts and informing them are not the same as influencing their opinion and behavior.
Check back next month for my next blog post where I outline the dos and don’ts when interacting with analysts.