Or I could just as easily title this, “Why They Won’t Respect You In The Morning.” I am talking about the ways in which analysts and/or a firm will weaken their standing in the eyes of potential customers in the hopes of making a sale. You would think that people would figure out the downside to being too eager to please but the fact that prospective buyers still make certain requests tells me that some folks haven’t.
Forget the notion that the customer is always right or that you have to sell out in order to win business. I have seen far too many companies adopt seriously unprofessional tactics when dealing with analyst firms. And unless you and or your firm stop following their lead then the profession will continue to suffer.
You don’t have to spend an hour on the phone with that guy who wants to interview several firms under the guise that they doing due diligence when all they really want is free consulting. Really, you don’t.
And you don’t have to listen to the sales department’s story that if you give their prospect a free hour of your time then they will get a big deal. Really, you don’t.
You don’t have to give your product away at 50% off in order to show that your stuff is worth it and nor do you have to give a huge discount to win good will in the future. Seriously, you don’t.
You don’t have to show a company your numbers so that they can evaluate them and see if you are worth buying. If you fall this one…… (!!!)
I suppose I should also add:
You don’t have to give a free set of your forecasts to a company looking to add credibility to their PowerPoint deck even though they promised to make sure you get credit.
You don’t to take briefings from companies that have budgets available for PR agencies or your competitors but never anything for your reports.
You don’t have to sign your name to that quote that they wrote for you to include in their press release.
You don’t have to publish the profile that the vendor provided you.
You don’t have to have that start-up who is going on their fifth year in that classification “help you” with your research in return for a copy of your report.
You don’t have to listen to the sob story from a PR agency account rep who wants you to give her client a free report in exchange for the spin-job briefing she set up for you.
The ilumatech Empowerment Plan:
Feeling better now? A bit more confident? Good. But in order to enforce some standards I think it is important to consider the following:
Establish yourself and your firm as someone that companies HAVE TO deal with. If you are not a top tier firm or a rock star analyst then work on being a player who knows what’s going on and be the one that the reporters and trade web sites quote frequently. Be seen in all the right places, participate in the important conversations taking place in the market and spend your time associating with people who can advance your prospects.
Next, be sure to have good data. I know that sounds rather obvious but if more people published quality analysis then there would be far fewer hacks in the market and all of the bad practices I mentioned above would fail to survive. And once you get yourself to a place (if you didn’t do it already) where your analysis is first rate then make sure that everyone in the industry who matters sees it.
If you are going to take briefings, make sure you come prepared to ask tough questions and push back on spin. Be the analyst or firm that doesn’t roll over. Ask the companies to prove what they say. And tell them what you think then and there. Publish your impressions about the meeting afterwards. The PR department and expensive outside agency won’t necessarily like it, but so what? It isn’t your job to act like an extension of their marketing department. And, if you showed up correct, showed you know the market and offered good feedback then the senior people on the company side might just be impressed enough with you to want to buy you. But on your terms, not theirs.
If you are going to do a call with a prospect who wants to test your knowledge, know when it’s time for you to stop talking and tell them that you have given them what you can give them and turn it over to the sales dept. If you are Mr./Ms/ Nice Guy/Gal, bring someone to the call with the designated power to redirect the conversation to the company’s interest in buying. Furthermore, if you can’t explain within 15 minutes what makes you and your report worth buying then you probably never will. In that instance cutting the call off won’t likely change anything since you either couldn’t communicate your value proposition or the person looking for free time wasn’t likely to buy anything anyway.
And there are several other way in which an individual or small firm can establish credibility and respect in the market through excellence in research, analysis, relationship management and communications. And yes, saying no can go a long way as well.