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Apr 23, 2004
How To

Make the Most of Your Meetings with Industry Analysts

SUMMARY: Summary: Does your job include getting analysts at firms like Forrester, Gartner, and Jupiter to notice your wonderful technology or service? This article gives you tips on:

- How to line up meetings
- What your presentation should include
- Six things you need to know before the meeting
- Following up

And, best of luck with your analyst meetings
Luckily, landing briefings with analysts tends to be easier than landing them with journalists (analysts conduct up to three briefings a day). Of course, since they're in the business of selling their time, it's far easier to get access to them if you're a client.

"The key is getting a briefing when you're *not* a client," says Amy Bermar, president of Corporate Ink, a tech-focused PR firm. We talked with Bermar about how to land a briefing, how to make the most of it, and what to expect as an outcome.

-> Why approach an analyst

The most obvious reason to develop relationships with analysts is because they're constantly in touch with the media, and are generally willing to provide comments if you have a reporter call them.

But briefings are important for other reasons that companies often don't consider. For example, most analysts:

--have access to enterprise customers and are called upon to provide a shortlist of recommended vendors

--can provide introductions to potential partners, would-be buyers, and targets for acquisition

--have an understanding of the marketplace, including the competitive landscape, that can help you in shaping your positioning and your understanding of what's going on in the market

-> Steps to landing an analyst briefing

Whether you approach the large, established research firms or independent consultants who have come from the business and who advise vendors and clients, Bermar says, you'll want to do your research to see whether their clients are the types of stakeholders you wish to reach.

Once you've done that, follow these steps to obtain a briefing:

o Step 1. Fill out an online briefing request (if available)

Many firms have online briefing request forms which are routed to the analyst most likely to be interested in your offer.

Make yourself sound as compelling as you would for a reporter: let the analyst know who you are, how you're moving the market forward, and why they can't afford not to know about you.

For example, you might say: The CEO of X Company will be in town in two weeks and would like to talk to you about a new strategy and product roll-out, and how it ties in to the three most significant trends in the market.

Then you would name those trends. You might add that the CEO would also like to talk about future plans and go-to-market strategy.

Don't ignore a firm's online briefing request form and try to circumvent the process by going directly to a specific analyst. The forms generally help track requests and route them to the correct analyst, and will expedite the process.

However, if you know which analyst at the firm that you'd like to meet with, "You can do the backdoor approach as well," Bermar says, by sending an email letting him or her know that your request form is coming.

Send your request two to three weeks prior to the date that you're requesting the briefing.

o Step 2. Approach the specific analyst

If the firm doesn't have a central briefing site, then you need to track down the specific analyst who covers your topic, and send a personal email, including the same information you would as if you were filling out a form.

o Step 3. Follow up

You can expect to hear back from a firm within a week or two. "This is more systematic" than pitching a journalist, says Bermar. "They generally get back to you."

However, if they don't, you can follow up with an email or a quick phone call.

-> Preparing for the briefing

Create a short PowerPoint presentation that addresses:
--your company's market position
--product roll-out plans
--unique benefits and capabilities
--competitive position
--go-to-market strategy
--any available case studies

This should not be more than 20-slides; and shorter is preferable because every slide has a better chance of being looked at and remembered. One slide *not* to include: what analysts say about the industry.

Send it to the analyst a few days before the meeting so they have a chance to look it over.

Then, become intimately familiar with your presentation so that you can present it *without* looking at the slides, because during the briefing, the analyst probably doesn't want to sit and watch the presentation. Yes, you should have it on hand, but ideally you'll know exactly what you're going to say and how you're going to say it, and can talk with the analyst as though you're having a conversation.

What the analyst does want to see is a working demo of your product, if possible (screenshots, if a demo is not available, are okay, too).

-> What to expect at the briefing

Briefings generally last an hour, and you should be prepared to start on time and to end on time, Bermar says. This does not mean your presentation lasts an hour - but your time with the analyst does.
To make the most of your hour, keep plenty of time for conversation, demos, and advice.

The meeting may take place on the phone, with a bridge line connecting you to multiple analysts, or you might be meeting face-to-face in an analyst's home office.

Phone briefings are the more difficult, especially if you're on with a number of analysts who may not even know each other. "It's a disconnect, and a difficult situation," Bermar says.

The best way to handle it is to realize that each analyst has different interests. "Some will be more conversant with your market, and you need to be able to play that as you would in any general business meeting," she explains. Listen closely to discover which analyst has the most interest in your market and make that person your main point of contact for follow up.

Four things to remember:

1. Some of your competitors are likely to be clients of the firm

Bear in mind, particularly if you're in a competitive field, that the analysts likely know more about your competition than you do.

2. The analysts will be selling to you, too

Because firms are always interested in getting new clients, there will be selling happening on both sides of the table. Don't try to put a stop to it, Bermar recommends. "That's part of the deal." However, it doesn't mean you have to actually become a client.

3. Ask for feedback

Analysts are sources of a great deal of information. "It's a valuable opportunity," Bermar says. "You should have at least three questions in mind that you want to get from them."

These might include questions about your product, market, or strategy, Bermar says. "Or maybe there's a rumor you want to see if they can confirm." It's a great opportunity to test your message and see how it resonates.

However, remember that they're selling their services, so while they'll give you some feedback, they won't give you a lot.

4. Re-cap before you leave

At the end of the briefing, go over any action items you might have talked about (maybe you need to provide more stats, a demo copy of the software, a report you mentioned that they might find interesting).

Ask if they'd be willing to provide comments to reporters, and whether they think they might include your company in a report or a list of vendors.

-> Maintain the relationship

The best outcome is when the analyst writes about your company in a report.

But even if that doesn't happen, you've begun an ongoing relationship -- so nurture it. "The really important point is that the analyst relationship is the same as any other outreach program," Bermar says.

Ask the analyst if they're willing to hear from you on a regular basis. Then, keep them personally informed on any news as it occurs, and offer to do occasional phone briefings.

"You don't want to do that with everybody," Bermar says. "Pick two or three that you want to have a relationship with," and focus on them.

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