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Train spokespeople to speak with analysts? You know it makes sense!!

Just about every AR pro I’ve ever met has a war story about a spokesperson – long on confidence and short on common sense – who has gone feral or badly off-message at an analyst briefing or meeting. Not quite as bad as doing the same thing in front of the media, but still cringe-worthy at the very least.

Yet many of those same AR pros struggle to get adequate time with these spokespeople to prepare them for individual briefings, let alone train them to engage effectively with industry analysts.

Ironically, time invested in proper training of analyst spokespeople tends to reduce the time needed to prepare for individual briefings and meetings. Often, prep time for a briefing consists of a quick review of the key messages and the analyst backgrounders, but if a spokesperson understands why they’re doing the briefing, then even that limited information provides more context and insight.

So, that’s the question, really. Why train analyst spokespeople?

Analysts influence sales

Any vendor investing in AR accepts this. Not everyone agrees on how, but every AR pro and most senior executives understand that analysts directly or indirectly influence how their customers perceive them and therefore have an impact on how, what and when those customers buy from them. So equipping spokespeople with the best tools to take advantage of that just makes sense.

Analyst conversations are different

Analysts are a different audience to press, to customers, to partners, to just about everyone else a vendor communicates their messages to. That means the conversations are different – they’re mostly more detailed and far-reaching, they can sometimes be broad and theoretical. Understanding what analysts want to hear about just makes sense.

Analysts are different

Analysts aren’t just different to other audiences, they’re different to each other. Some analysts are thoughtful and technical, others are interested in go-to-market approaches and partner ecosystems, others just want to know what you’ve sold. Each type requires a different approach, so understanding what individual analysts want to hear about just makes sense.

 Analysts want insights, not sound bites

Media training is well-accepted and very useful for engaging with journalists, but it’s next to useless in preparing executives to speak with analysts. Bridging to safe ground, speaking in bullet points and compressing messages to 30-second grabs simply add no value in analyst conversations. Understanding how to talk with analysts just makes sense.

 Executives don’t know what they don’t know

Most senior executives who engage with analysts come from sales and/or marketing backgrounds – they’re good at rallying the troops, sweet-talking customers, speaking to scripts on stage, and generally being positive. So they’re pretty confident that they can talk to analysts without help. But if they don’t understand the objectives of the discussion (because they don’t understand analysts), then they don’t know how effective they’ve been. Helping your executives be successful just makes sense.

Not all spokespeople are executives

I could have said “executives don’t know everything” and been equally correct. Because executives don’t know everything. They’re pretty good at talking about the business, the strategy, the customer engagement approach and lots of other higher level topics, but they’re usually weak on technical detail. Product marketing and management is often the source of good technical spokespeople, but depending on your circumstances, the best person to engage in-depth with analysts could be in pre-sales or a line of business. Helping the business get the message across just makes sense.

 There are simply too many misconceptions about analysts

Just about everyone in the ICT industry has an opinion about analysts, and the majority of them are wrong. They vary in degree from simply not getting the nuances of different analyst firm business models to believing that analysts will write favourable research if only you put enough money on (or under) the table. Battling these misconceptions on a daily basis just makes an AR professional’s job harder, so blowing them away & getting everyone on the same page just makes sense.

Having figured out that it does make sense to train analyst spokespeople, the next question is what do you teach them? That’s the topic for another post, but in the meantime, let me know if you think I’ve missed any good reasons, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

Cheers,

Dave

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hey Dave, I used to train executives in the mid-late 90s in Europe on exactly this topic – nice one. The next blog will be important too. It’s a different audience and understanding it, communicating with it effectively, etc… just makes too much business sense for the vendors to ignore. Cheers, Andrea

    August 29, 2012
  2. Dave Noble #

    Thanks Andrea, as with so many communication elements, it’s a question of getting folks to focus on the benefits. Then the light comes on!!
    Cheers, Dave

    August 29, 2012
  3. Hi Dave – good post! About your follow-up piece… one thing you might want to touch on is that commonly-taught PR strategies for spokepeople often don’t work with IT analysts. One example is ‘bridging’ your way out a question that you’d rather not answer… might work with some journalists, but it’s highly likely to annoy any analyst who cared enough to ask the question in the first place.

    August 30, 2012
    • Dave Noble #

      Thanks Rob, that’s a great point. Bridging is one of the hardest habits to “unlearn” when you’re training spokespeople. There are alternative ways to deal with questions you don’t want to answer – I’ll make sure I cover this next week. Just don’t get me started on triple whammies… 🙂
      cheers, Dave

      August 30, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. So you want to train spokespeople to talk to analysts – but what do you teach them? | IntelligenAR
  2. The three qualities of analyst spokespeople I most enjoy working with | IntelligenAR

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