Analyst relations isn’t just a numbers game. It requires much more than tallying up inquiries and briefings; it requires nuance and people skills. But it's not rocket science, either. It's relationship science. And like all relationships, analyst relation(ships) start from scratch and grow over time. You wouldn't expect a marriage proposal after a first date, right? In fact, analyst relations is a lot like dating, and here's why:
To set up that initial encounter, you both have to be into each other. Analysts have specific coverage areas, and your company has to be a good fit. Before setting up that first briefing or inquiry, you're going to want to make sure the analyst covers your space. And if they're not a match...well, that's going to be a swipe-left.
Make sure your online presence is accurate (and not embarrassing). She will Google you. That's right. Analysts will do their own research before taking your calls. That means they’ll see everything that’s posted online. So make sure your company website, LinkedIn page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. all reflect your company's best self.
She's not going to be ready to marry you after the first date. No matter how perfect you come across in the first interaction, you’ll be hard pressed to find an analyst that will immediately invite you to their next Wave or Magic Quadrant or other major evaluation. Because just like that first date, they're just getting to know you, and figuring out if you're all that you say you are. After all, it takes time to build trust.
The purpose of the first date is to get a second. Keep your eyes on the prize, not pie-in-the-sky. Yes, you know what your end goal is. But you wouldn't ask a first date how many kids she plans on having. Likewise, keep expectations for your first analyst interaction in check: having a reason to schedule a second interaction is the goal.
Don't be overeager or you look desperate. Let's face it...needy is a turnoff. Now, that doesn't mean play hard-to-get. But there's a difference between giving an analyst a briefing on your capabilities and claiming you're the next unicorn. Yes, you need to portray your company in the best light, but there's a difference between sounding confident and sounding conceited. Plus, nobody's perfect – sharing your challenges and imperfections will make you more relatable.
She's going to tell her friends all about you...so make a good impression. You've heard it a million times before: you never get a second chance to make the right first impression. So make it a good one. Be on time, prepared, make eye contact, etc. Practice your presentation, and make sure it showcases your company's strengths.
Call her...but not too often. Do you have a significant update? A new acquisition? A pitch for a huge client you'd like feedback on? By all means, reach out! But do you find yourself begging to be included in the next piece of research? Put the phone down...now. Just like with dating, she'll let you know when she's ready to take that next step.
Ask questions and give insights...conversation is a two-way street. You know that SNL character Chad who responds to everything with "OK" or "cool"? Don't be that guy. Ask thoughtful questions and give valuable insight. The analyst relationship should be mutually beneficial, so be engaging, be interested, and be interesting. And speaking of things that go both ways, always remember to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
She'll interact with others, and that's ok. Don't badmouth your competition. A single analyst may take hundreds of briefings a year. Their job is to learn everything they can about the market they cover. And that means talking to everyone worth talking to, including your competition. But don't think speaking badly of your competitors will make you look better. It will only make you look petty. Focus on what makes you Mr. Right.
You'll know if she's just not that into you. We've all been on that first date that went so badly, you just want to crawl in a hole and never date again. Or maybe you thought it went great...then she ghosted you. But just because sparks didn't fly then, doesn't mean they won't ever. And most will give you a second chance to fix that less-than-great first impression. The important thing is to acknowledge what went wrong, accept feedback, and do better next time.
There are many aspects of analyst relations, but the most important is that it’s a relationship. You can’t treat it like a numbers game or even like a marketing exercise. If you don't want to be on the receiving end of "it's not you, it's me," remember that relationships are based on trust, honesty and mutual respect. Keep this in mind, and when you're ready to ask that analyst if she plans on recommending you to a client...you can be confident in getting an "I do."