Over on Spend Matters PRO, my colleague Peter Smith recently penned a must-read column for software providers, BPOs and consultants in the procurement and supply chain ecosystem: Providers Take Note: A Look Inside the Brain of a CPO (subscription content - try before you buy here). His post got me thinking about writing a similar brief with tips for providers on briefing analysts, bloggers and other influencers.
I won't attempt to go down to this level of detail in looking at how providers can best get the attention of industry analysts overall. But I will offer some backdrop and quick advice from my personal experience. And for those interested, check out my Spend Matters PRO column today that goes into much greater detail: Five Secrets to Creating a Killer Analyst/Influencer Pitch.
I've probably either given or sat through some twenty-five hundred vendor briefings and demonstrations in my career. That's a lot over a career spanning nearly 20 years. But far too many of these, including many I've presented to analysts in the past, have fallen on somewhat deaf ears – or arrogant deaf ears (but that's another story). It's a shame – but it's not surprising – why providers generally fail to get the attention of analysts:
First, put yourself in the shoes of the analyst looking at technology. This could be an industry analyst, blogger, a lead analyst at a company you're trying to sell to (not a procurement person, but a senior technical thought leader and gatekeeper) or another influential person with some combined product/technical and business/subject matter understanding. This person is likely inundated with briefing and meeting requests.
Given this, it's important to accomplish a number of things in the short amount of time you have with them. As we explore on PRO in more detail, this includes doing some advance homework that enables you to come in with a POV not just on what you plan to present, but how it fits into their broader research and related interests. Even more important is to present something that's memorable and reinforces this point of view (especially in the case of providers getting to know an analyst/influencer for the first time).
It's just as important to keep in mind how the analyst looks at their time. Please, if you're not a client, don't ask for significant feedback or free consulting during the call based on input on what you've presented. I can't tell you how many providers fall into this trap on a regular basis. Treat their time with respect and educate the influencer in front of you – don't ask for a free lunch.
If you're not a client, the analyst should be more than willing to invest the time to get to know what you have – and as important, what makes it different in the overall context of what the company is selling. But respect them. Remember, they have nothing to sell but their ideas, whether it's in writing, on stage or in an advisory capacity. Keep that one point in mind and you'll do just fine.
If they volunteer ideas, congratulations! You've captured their attention. Keep them talking (if they want to). But don't get greedy with the brain suck unless you're working with them and there's a broader relationship. I've personally black listed a number of providers in giving material feedback because of the reputations they've built for themselves of always wanting to drain ideas and input but without showing any willingness to reciprocate. It's important to remember that influencers often talk amongst themselves too. Tick off one and the others – at least the ones that matter – will hear about it.