To enhance your team’s effectiveness during analyst briefings, AR managers should formalize roles and responsibilities for each individual attending the meeting. Key roles include presenter, color commentator, scribe, questioner, and geek. Having defined roles ensures that your message is communicated effectively and that the value received from the briefing meeting can be communicated to executives at home. This SageNote offers advice on how to prepare the people who will deliver corporate messages to the analysts.
Given the influence that industry analysts wield within high-tech markets, face-to-face meetings with them take on unique significance. Otherwise known as the “analyst briefing,” the meeting between the vendor’s executive team and research directors of an industry analyst firm can indirectly impact sales leads and revenue-both positively and negatively.
Analysts may only have periodic contact with a vendor throughout the year. Therefore, analysts look at analyst briefings as an opportunity to draw conclusions about the company, its executive team, and its offerings. Analysts relay these conclusions to their end user clients, who are paying sizeable retainer fees to obtain information about vendors. Quite simply, advisory analysts give buyers valuable information, as well as techniques and recommendations that may tip the balance of power in favor of the buyer over the seller.
Vendors, on the other hand, are looking for analysts to endorse their strategy and offerings to their target market prospects, and therefore often look at analyst briefings with trepidation and angst. With a positive analyst endorsement, the vendor has a powerful lever with sales prospects and marketing activities. Vendors view analyst briefings as high risk, high reward.
There are two main aspects to delivering an analyst briefing. First, organization, and secondly, preparation. Even with great content, there’s nothing more awkward than having the wrong people arrive at an analyst briefing. All of these variables are in the control of the Analyst Relations Manager.
Number of people to attend the briefing
ARInsights recommends that vendors travel with no more than two to four individuals for any analyst briefing. The ideal number is three, two people to present ideas/discuss issues and one person to act as scribe to record valuable insights, conclusions and action items. Given a different number of vendor attendees at any one briefing, each team member can assume more than one role during the briefing.
ARInsights recommends that AR managers clarify responsibilities to each of the team members briefing the analysts. Below we list five roles to be assumed by the marketing, business executives and AR/PR personnel. The main purpose for assigning roles is to ensure effective communication of the message and to take away valuable suggestions or analyst insights. In our humble experience, vendors who have two people in the meeting talking over each other or arguing over issues lose credibility quickly. This behavior threatens to destroy any progress that may have been made in influencing the analyst’s opinions. Here then are five roles in the order of their importance to successful briefings.
The presenter is the person who introduces the company. She stands in front of the analysts, and leads the discussion through the material. The presenter should be a polished speaker and communicator, who does not get defensive or flustered by rapid fire questioning. Needless to say, the presenter should be able to address high level strategic positions of the company, as well as product positioning, organizational, business and partnership issues.
The person assigned to take copious notes of the proceedings can be anybody, but in most cases the job falls on the PR or AR professional. The notes from the briefing will be used to record valuable suggestions or insights from the analysts as the briefing progresses, which will be used to formalize feedback for the home office. This function is especially critical for vendors who are not clients of the analysts. Without a client contract, the company may not have the opportunity to call the analyst and ask for clarifications or follow up questions. The material is also used to record follow up action items such as materials to exchange or other meetings to schedule. The scribe should also ask questions during the briefing to clarify salient points.
This is a subtle role, and is usually a second corporate or marketing executive. This role adds anecdotes to illustrate vision, product success stories, and customer satisfaction experiences. This role is especially important because he can mentally analyze and process the suggestions by the analysts, without worrying about presenting the material. While adding comments, the color commentator gives the presenter time to catch her breath and recompose her thoughts.
One role that’s easily assumed by either the “color commentator” or “the scribe,” is to have a pre-defined list of questions to ask the analyst during the meeting. The purpose of this list is to gather intelligence about things like competitive data, customer feedback or future trends. AR managers can increase the overall value to the company from the meeting by ensuring that executives work diligently to acquire key items of intelligence from the briefing.
The token technical person who is well versed in the architecture and detailed specifications of the offering is not appropriate for all briefings. The geek knows how to communicate technical issues, and should also be familiar with the business and marketing plans discussed by other executives in the meeting. In rare cases, where the analysts have requested a technically oriented briefing, an AR manager may travel with the geek as the featured speaker. However, in general the analysts tend to be focused on business strategy and market positioning issues more than technical issues. And if there is no “geek” at the briefing when a detailed technical question is asked, it is both appropriate and good strategy to use it as an opportunity for setting up another meeting or call between the analyst and the company’s technical experts.
The AR managers and marketing executives who do most of the presenting should adjust the combination of roles depending on personal styles, material presented, location or objectives. For example, if the analyst meeting will take place at a 3rd party location as part of another conference or industry event, then there may only be one or two people available. A particularly experienced presenter may not need a third person to help in answering questions, and therefore would only require a second person to travel to take notes. In all cases, analysts look favorably on industry vendors who appear organized, confident, and who work as a team in fulfilling the objectives of the meeting.
During analyst briefings, formal roles and responsibilities for each individual attending the meeting should be assigned to minimize confusion during the meeting and maximize the influence-building opportunity.
Analyst relations (AR) managers should limit the number of people attending the briefing to two to four people, depending on the scope and objectives of the briefing. The ideal number is three, one presenter, one color commentator, and one scribe.
There are well defined roles that vendors can use during analyst briefings. Presenters guide the main discussion, color commentators clarify issues and allow the presenter to catch his/her breath, the questioner has the list of issues to bring up with the analyst, the geek answers technical questions, and the scribe takes copious notes.
AR managers should work with and modify their combination of people and roles as needed to accomplish objectives. Circumstances such as industry events or special executive announcements may call for changes in the composition of the normal briefing team.