I was recently asked by a client to advise them on whether or not they should take out a subscription from a well known analyst firm. There’s no doubt that the firm in question is honest and reputable within the technology sector. However, with so many analyst firms around, how do you know which one to choose that’s best for your company?
At first glance, the subscription seemed reasonable compared to what is charged by the major established firms (such as Gartner) where pricing starts at around $45,000 and increases to the $75,000 price-range for access to analysts to ask them for their opinions and expertise within specific areas.
How much value will your company see from having a subscription?
This fundamentally depends on how much you invest in the process. If your company has access to reports but no one reads them and follows what the industry is saying and thinking, this isn’t beneficial at all and it doesn’t justify the investment. The same applies to analyst inquiries: if you can make a set number of inquiries to expert analysts for their advice and expertise, but then don't use them to inform strategy, business model or operating processes, you're just throwing money away.
What’s also important is to have a clear picture from the analyst firm on what the subscription offer includes. A salesperson’s job is to persuade you to purchase a subscription, and they can promise you the world just to close the deal. However, you might find that when it comes to the actual contract, only a few things from what was originally promised might be included.
With this in mind, we’ve put together ten questions that you should ask any analyst firm sales rep before making your decision to commit to a subscription.
Access to reports:
Every analyst firm subscription includes access to reports. Some will offer access to all of their reports and others just to a limited number per month or per quarter. Some can tailor the subscription to cover only certain reports that are of utmost importance to your company.
- Does the offer include access to all of the firm's reports or just a certain amount per month or per quarter and do they include reports across the whole of the technology areas that the analysts cover or just specific areas ONLY?
- If it’s the latter, why does the analyst firm not include access to any other reports that are relevant to your company?
- Will your company benefit from having access to any other reports from the analyst firm?
Access to analysts:
Many sales reps promise that once you take a subscription and part with your cash, you will also have access to the analysts' time. This ‘access' however needs to be clarified as to what it will involve – is it briefings or inquiries?
Briefings are always free, and it's in the analysts' interest to be informed of what is happening in the market at any given time. Just remember that briefings are not unlimited, and they should only be requested if your company has something to say that is interesting and useful for the analysts.
On the other hand, analyst inquiries are paid for and - depending on the level of subscription – are included in the price.
- Does the subscription give use of unlimited access to the analysts or does it limit it to a certain number?
- Does the access only include inquiries, or does it also include analysts speaking at your company events or webinars?
(FWIW: you should not expect the analysts to endorse your company or products but to share their thoughts on the industry they specialise in.)
- How long does an analyst inquiry call last – 30min, an hour?
Access to webinars:
Some analyst firms also give access to their webinars which, in some cases, can be behind a paywall. Although webinars are a great resource, some of them are available with just a basic registration where you put your name and email address and agree to the terms and conditions for use.
- Are the analyst firm’s webinars readily available, or do you need a basic subscription to access them?
- If so, why should your company pay a subscription for access to something that’s already in the public domain and can be accessed by anyone?
- Does the subscription include your company having one of your subject matter experts take part in any of the analyst firm's relevant webinars?
- What else is included in the subscription – access to events?
Even if you ask all of the above questions, spending thousands of pounds on a paid subscription will deliver very little by itself. What’s also important is for your company to have a clear internal Analyst Relations co-ordinator, with specifically allocated time to drive the relationship with the analyst firm and secure value from it.
If you’re not sure about investing in a paid subscription, we recommend conducting a webinar or a similar smaller project with the analyst firm in question. This can be an output-focused activity whose aim is to drive marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). But it will also help establish if the firm is a good fit long-term to help you and your company to achieve its business objectives.