How to Influence High Tech Analysts and Market Researchers

By Geoffrey James

High-tech analysts and market researchers play a critical role in most software sales efforts. Because customers are more willing to trust objective analysts, the opinions of these analysts often determine which software firms receive lucrative contracts. That’s great, providing analysts constantly say good things about your firm. But what if a particular analyst is consistently negative? One way to ensure better analyst reviews is to buy more research reports from that analyst’s firm. This almost always works, but may involve spending tens of thousands of dollars on research reports that you don’t really need. Fortunately, there are four relatively inexpensive alternatives.

1. Feed the analyst inside information. The coin of the realm for analysts is information. They always appreciate knowing interesting facts before everybody else, especially since they often trade that information for more information. To leverage this, regularly contact the analyst when you pick up interesting industry gossip. Also, make certain the analyst is briefed on your major corporate decisions and directions before the rest of the analyst community. Make sure the analyst knows he or she is getting special treatment. Cost to you: next to nothing.

2. Provide feedback when you follow the analyst’s advice. Analysts think of themselves as visionaries and experts, but their secret fear is that nobody will heed their opinions. (It’s called the Cassandra syndrome). Because of this, analysts love it when companies appear to follow their advice, especially if they publicly credit the analyst, especially to the analyst’s boss, with having a positive impact. Note that this does not require swallowing everything the analyst says; only that you provide feedback when you do follow the analyst’s advice. Cost to you: next to nothing.

3. Send the analyst on a fact-finding junket. Journalists and financial analysts are bound by codes of ethics that forbid them from accepting gifts or perks from the companies they write about. Not so for high-tech analysts. The market research business is not bound by any industry-wide code of ethics, which means you can legally do favors for individual analysts to influence them to write about your company more positively. Though larger firms may have policies preventing this, most smaller market research firms allow their analysts to accept free travel and lodging in exotic locales while being briefed on your corporate strategy. Cost to you: a couple thousand dollars per analyst.

4. Lend the analyst a top-of-the-line laptop. Analysts love having the coolest computer in the building. They also hate installing software packages that are more complex than a computer game. If you want to ensure that an analyst has a positive experience, send the software pre-loaded on a brand new, high-end laptop. Make certain the analyst understands that the laptop is purely on loan for as long as it is needed. Then don’t ever ask for the laptop back. Cost to you: a couple thousand dollars.