Analyst Relations – The Power of Inquiry

19 April 2010

In the world of politics when people say ‘we need to have an Inquiry’ alarm bells tend to ring. Usually it’s because something’s gone badly wrong, the media’s on the warpath and someone in a position of responsibility is under pressure to explain their actions in public. Inquiries are often viewed as a ‘bad thing’. But this is not always the case…


The word has much more positive connotations within the technology industry. Amongst technology decision makers the phrase tends to spread enlightenment and hope rather than fear and buck passing. Analyst Inquiries tend to be much more positive than their political equivalents (and are by definition confidential). Inquiries with analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC and many others provide invaluable insights on a wide range of potential problems.


Technology decision makers who subscribe to an analyst house can hold private Inquiries with that firm’s analysts to get the latest insights and advice on whichever technology issue, purchasing decision or strategic decision they may be grappling with. Correctly conducted, the insights and intelligence gained through them can have a tangible impact on a company’s strategy, choice of technology vendor and the shape of their future technology implementation and execution.


Hill & Knowlton’s own proprietary research has found that just over half of Tech Decision Makers say personal experience, WOM and industry analyst coverage are their most important sources of information when identifying a short list of technology providers. Inquiries can help identify a target analyst’s likely perceptions regarding a specific offering or vendor. The analyst Inquiry is therefore a powerful tool from a product marketing and industry market intelligence perspective. It is for this reason that Hill & Knowlton’s global AR practice has always placed top priority on maintaining a broad base of subscriptions to analyst houses, including Inquiry rights as standard.


So, assuming you are about to have your first Inquiry with an analyst, what should you do to maximise the value gained?

As a rule, the following are a good guide to how to approach an Inquiry:


·         Thoroughly Map Questions to Your Business Objectives – your time with the analyst is limited so ensure that the key areas you need insight on are covered adequately and in sufficient depth. Also try to logically link questions together so that there is a natural flow to your inquiry


·         Clearly Outline Requirements When Booking – when arranging the Inquiry with the analyst firm clearly outline the topics you wish to discuss. A confused brief can lead to an Inquiry with the wrong analyst, so double check your requirements. Also try to provide advance questions for the analyst to review prior to the call


·         Research Your Analyst If they don’t seem to be relevant, make a judgement call on whether pressing ahead is a good use of their time (and yours). There may be another analyst at the same firm who is more suitable. Also get to know the analysts you speak to, research their background (Oh we went to the same university … oh she’s a wine enthusiast … etc.)


On the call itself:


·         Discipline and Focus – Be courteous, be prepared to steer the flow of conversation if required and keep a careful eye on the clock as Inquiry time is typically short


The above points are by no means definitive – as stated earlier no two Inquiries are the same and flexibility is often required – but they will provide a solid starting point for an Inquiry. Hill & Knowlton has Inquiry seats with a number of analyst houses and we frequently conduct Inquiries that can provide impartial feedback that can positively influence go-to-market strategies, product development roadmaps and business implementation.


If you have any questions about best practice when dealing with analysts, or would like to hold an Inquiry with an analyst on a specific area please feel free to contact Hill & Knowlton’s Analyst Relations team for more details.  May all your Inquiries be insightful ones!





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