The power of social media: good & evil

A simple mistake by a Sainsbury’s employee who put a poster aimed at employees, to encourage every shopper to spend an extra 50p, up in a store window would have been a local issue 5 years ago. Realising their mistake it would have been taken down and forgotten, with perhaps a little ribbing from colleagues and a dressing down from their supervisor. Not now. Social media amplifies everything. The good and the bad. The blunder was spread around the social universe with the hashtag on Twitter until it was picked up by a national newspaper, in this article,  which supercharged the social media force.

Here is the offending or offensive poster.

Sainsburys 50p

Literally genius or is it literacy genius?

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Students at a local school were assigned to read 2 books, ‘Titanic’ and ‘My Life’ by Bill Clinton. One student turned in the following book report, with the proposition that they were nearly identical stories! His professor gave him an A+ for this report.

Titanic: Cost – $29.99
Clinton : Cost – $29.99

Titanic: Over 3 hours to read
Clinton : Over 3 hours to read

Titanic: The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.
Clinton : The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Titanic: Jack is a starving artist.
Clinton : Bill is a bullshit artist.

Titanic: In one scene, Jack enjoys a good cigar.
Clinton : Ditto for Bill

Titanic: During the ordeal, Rose’s dress gets ruined.
Clinton : Ditto for Monica.

Titanic: Jack teaches Rose to spit.
Clinton : Let’s not go there.

Titanic: Rose gets to keep her jewellery.
Clinton : Monica is forced to return her gifts.

Titanic: Rose remembers Jack for the rest of her life.
Clinton : Clinton doesn’t remember anything.

Titanic: Rose goes down on a vessel full of seamen.
Clinton : Monica.. Ooh, let’s not go there, either.

Titanic: Jack surrenders to an icy death.
Clinton : Bill goes home to Hillary – basically the same thing

Unlocking the secrets of selling innovative solutions B2B

IMPACT: the technology executive’s guide for selling B2B disruptive and innovative solutions

Download the 20 page Book Summary

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

It is getting easier to develop technology, and cheaper to deploy through the cloud, but it is not getting any easier to build and scale an innovative B2B technology company. At the outset innovative or disruptive technology is only purchased by an Early Adopter, to use Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” terminology. The Early Adopter buying approach is the polar opposites to the Early Majority buyer. The Early Adopter is prepared to take a personal risk with innovative technology as they can see the huge potential. In contrast the Early Majority is the risk-averse buyer of technology in established markets to solve known, documented and measured needs; for example CRM, ERP, BI, secure mobility or collaboration. In fact, staggeringly 63% of all software revenue is split between Microsoft, SAP and Oracle – the market leaders – selling to the Early Majority.

Our 25 years of research has shown that every buyer follows a universal buying process, irrespective of industry, country or market. We have distilled this process into 6 steps; IMPACT. Idea, Mentor, Position, Assess, Case, Transaction.

What is interesting is when the customer invites the vendor into the process. The Early Adopter engages the vendor at Mentor when the solution is innovative, disruptive and shows potential that needs to be proven. The Early Majority does not invite the vendor until Case, when they already have a budget, business case, RFP and are ready to run a formal procurement process.

So, the different buying traits and the length and style of customer engagement means that selling to an Early Adopter requires a radically different approach to the shorter engagement with the Early Majority. However, unaware of IMPACT of the buyer types, most early stage companies replicate the sales techniques of the market leaders with disastrous results. They are selling to the Early Adopters, but using an approach honed to sell to the Early Majority.

But it is not just the sales teams that have to work differently. The entire company must be structured in a way to optimize sales to the particular buyer type. We are calling that the operational culture; the strategy, the structure, the behavior and expectations of the organization. This means different processes, incentives and KPIs. The Early Adopter needs a Value Created operational culture which has more thought leadership and is more consultative. The Early Majority needs a Value Added operational culture – the way that we see the market leaders operate – managing a sales funnel and winning RFPs.

Sadly most early stage companies, by default, are organized with a Value Added operational culture and are staffed with Value Added sales guys fresh out of SAP or Oracle. They are confused about why they are not closing deals and their tried and trusted sales funnel metrics are not working. And worse, they are frustrated that it is proving impossible to forecast close dates.

The purpose of this book is to enable you understand what is happening for your Early Adopter customer through the IMPACT cycle and how to engage with them so that it all makes sense and becomes repeatable.

To be able to survive and then thrive to the left of the chasm, selling to Early Adopters, early stage companies need to make a strategic shift and move to a Value Created operational culture.

Download the 20 page Book Summary

Q9 Group launches. The start of a new era or is that error?

Q9 logo and tag line

The summer is over. The flip flops and shorts have been swapped for business attire. I took the summer off to spend time with the family and that has proved to be one of my better decisions. But I also set myself the goal of by 1 Sept that I would decide what I would focus my energy on. I had 4 options:

  1. Another tech start-up
  2. An interim CEO role (adult supervision) for a tech start up
  3. A portfolio career of writing, speaking and non exec roles
  4. Launching a global consulting firm.

I chose door 4. Why?  I think it offers the right level of risk vs reward for me.  Plus, sitting here in San Francisco, close to Salesforce.com I can see  huge opportunity to help them with their largest clients where they are engaged in large change projects with complex implementations where the process driven approach we perfected at Nimbus will make a huge difference.  Finally, back in March I was program manager for a large TIBCO Nimbus project with a small team of 5  of us for 3 months at a client in Toronto. It was Q9’s first project and it took me back to my Accenture days. And I had forgotten how much fun and rewarding it was.

So the last 2 weeks I have been developing the brand, getting clear on the proposition, setting up the email, social sites and website.  The deadline was today.  And it is all done. So please go and check it out  www.q9group.com    All comments, both good and bad, are welcome.

Q9 logo and tag line

MISSION:  We help our clients change to be more successful

FOCUS: Customer Experience = Process + CRM (Salesforce.com)

 

 

Obviously if there are projects that you hear about, then please think of Q9.  If you are interested in working for Q9 then email me  igotts@q9group.com  In the early days it is a balancing act between winning projects and taking on staff. But the aim is to build a significant consulting business, headquartered out of San Francisco but delivering complex change projects for global clients.

I will continue to blog here as IanGotts on a range of subjects, but also Q9 will be blogging on process, sales and Customer Experience.  So please go and subscribe.

I am both excited and scared.  But that is how it should be – right?

 

CRM = Customer Rejection Management

Customer Service

Every major organization has some form of customer call center. You may have renamed yours “contact center.” They are manned by staff that are trained, tooled-up with technology and incentivized to support customers. The center is critical because it drives long term sales and protects repeat revenue. It may even be considered a “profit center.”

Customer Strategy

But your customers are calling you less, and only when they really have to. I would suggest that CRM stands for “customer rejection management” rather than customer relationship management; and this is by design. There are three strategies that companies are adopting that are driving customers away, giving you less insight into your customers and their needs, and, ultimately, alienating them.

These strategies are:

  • Outsourcing: lets a call center operator talk to your customers;
  • Self service: lets them find their own answers; and
  • Search/social networking: lets someone else help them.

All three strategies are driven by a cost-center/cost-reduction mindset.

But the one time you force your customers to contact you is when they don’t want to. This is called non-value demand. In other words, you are making your customers do something that has no real value for them.

Either you make them call a number and sit on hold after they have navigated through a labyrinthine list of menu options; or you make them go to an unintelligible website, register by entering a huge list of personal information, wait for a validation email, and then make them try to navigate your website – all with little or no guidance or step by step instructions. Sound familiar?

Here are some examples of non-value demand:

  • Report a fault or error in a product or service.
  • Fix a problem in a product or service.
  • Confirm or acknowledge a change of contract or other details.
  • Update personal details.

The opposite of non value demand is value-demand. This is something initiated by the customer that they want for their benefit. They may not want to talk to you but it is worth their time and effort. Some examples are:

  • Ask for an increase in credit limit.
  • Cancel a product or service.
  • Order a product or service.
  • Give feedback.

What makes both non-value demand and value-demand non-functional is that companies often compound it with poorly thought through, inadequately tested and inconsistently applied business processes. I am not just talking about the screens in the CRM application but the end-to-end process: the customer journey.

This makes the experience even worse for everybody. The customer is confused and frustrated. The call center operator is uncomfortable and frustrated; i.e., the customer leaves the call upset, no matter how good, positive or cheerful your call center person is.

Good process design

The explosive growth of social networking means that there is now a wide range of ways that a customer may get their question answered. They can call you, search your website, email you, search for the answer on a forum, post the question on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a micro-blogging site like Twitter.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a look at front office processes, and take a customer-centric perspective. Put the customer at the heart of the situation and think about their journey.

The good news is that most of the back office processes can stay the same.

This is the opportunity to take a faster, more effective yet proven approach to process capture/discovery, CRM design, and the adoption of new working practices for your customer facing staff. This can be done through interactive, collaborative process mapping sessions, rapid CRM system prototyping or role-based guided process walk-throughs delivering links to systems, videos, on screen entry, documents and forms, in the context of an end-to-end process.

Gone are consultants interviewing staff and producing complex flowcharts that cover the entire wall of the project office. The end to six to 12 month CRM/IT-centric projects. Say goodbye to offsite CRM systems training courses.

Just theory? No = Success.

Is this approach just theory, you ask? No. It can be seen on every street in the UK in Carphone Warehouse stores, with an initiative they call ‘How2’. (Full disclosure: Carphone Warehouse is a TIBCO client.)

If you can’t make it out of the office, Carphone Warehouse has documented its project in videos from several perspectives including a retail store, back office, the project sponsor. The results speak for themselves. Just from the deployment to 815 stores the ROI was 1100% in year one, customer satisfaction (NPS) was up 25%, an additional revenue of £5M in the first year and they’ve saved £50,000 per year on telephone support calls to stores. In fact, the company has just won a Gartner BPM Excellence Award in the Leveraging BPM Technology category.

Just theory? No = FAIL.

I’ll contrast this with the non-value demand experience of another UK retailer … which shall go unnamed.

Last year I moved the family to the USA and before we left we rented out our house. We called the UK-based retailer, 30 days in advance to cancel our TV/phone/broadband service (value demand). The person at the call center was very helpful. A letter arrived in the post confirming the cancellation of the TV. The letter read:

Sorry to hear you decided to cancel your subscription. Your viewing will stop on dd/mm/yyyy. (The date was wrong: non-value demand contact required.) We are delighted that you want to continue your service etc., etc., etc. (Wrong again = non-value demand contact required.).”

So we make a non-value demand call. A very helpful and friendly call center representative said that we would be receiving separate letters from each department (telephone, broadband, TV) cancelling the services.  Each, presumably, saying the other services would continue, confusing us or prompting more non-value demand calls. We were advised to simply ignore these letters when they arrived, which we did.

About a week ago we were sent a letter prompting another non-value demand call. There is a credit on the account and they wanted me to call them to let them know if we would like a check and where to send it. Far better would have been to credit our bank account or attach a check to the letter.

Processs-led thinking leads to happy customers

The people who design operational processes should think about how it feels from a customer perspective. Then how the effective use of technology can enhance the experience for everyone. The social media revolution taking place is the perfect catalyst.

Ahhh!! I feel better now. Who should I call to tell?

Yoga mat for sale. Used once. – $1 (Craigslist Bellevue)

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Here’s the full text from the Seattle Craigslist ad below:
Yoga mat for sale. Used once at lunch hour class in December 2009. Usage timeline as follows:

11:45a
Register for hot yoga class. Infinite wisdom tells me to commit to 5 class package and purchase a yoga mat. I pay $89.74. Money well spent, I smugly confirm to myself.

11:55a
Open door to yoga room. A gush of hot dry air rushes through and past me. It smells of breath, sweat and hot. Take spot on floor in back of room next to cute blonde. We will date.

11:57a
I feel the need to be as near to naked as possible. This is a problem because of the hot blonde to my left and our pending courtship. She will not be pleased to learn that I need to lose 30 pounds before I propose to her.

11:58a
The shirt and sweats have to come off. I throw caution to the wind and decide to rely on my wit and conditioning to overcome any weight issues my fiancée may take issue with. This will take a lot of wit and conditioning.

11:59a
Begin small talk with my bride to be. She pretends to ignore me but I know how she can be. I allow her to concentrate and stare straight ahead and continue to pretend that I don’t exist. As we finish sharing our special moment, I am suddenly aware of a sweat moustache that has formed below my nose. This must be from the all the whispering between us.

12:00p
Instructor enters the room and ascends her special podium at the front of the room. She is a slight, agitated Chinese woman. She introduces me to the class and everyone turns around to greet me just as I decide to aggressively adjust my penis and testes packed in my Under Armor. My bride is notably unfazed.

12:02p
Since I do have experience with Hot Yoga (4 sessions just 5 short years ago) I fully consider that I may be so outstanding and skilled that my instructor may call me out and ask me to guide the class. My wife will look on with a sparkle in her eye. We will make love after class.

12:10p
It is now up to 95 degrees in the room. We have been practicing deep breathing exercises for the last 8 minutes. This would not be a problem if we were all breathing actual, you know, oxygen. Instead, we are breathing each other’s body odor, expelled carbon dioxide and other unmentionables. (Don’t worry, I’ll mention them later.)

12:26p
It is now 100 degrees and I take notice of the humidity, which is hovering at about 90%. I feel the familiar adorning stare of my bride and decide to look back at her. She appears to be nauseated. I then realize that I forgot to brush my teeth prior to attending this class. We bond.

12:33p
It is now 110 degrees and 95% humidity. I am now balancing on one leg with the other leg crossed over the other. My arms are intertwined and I am squatting. The last time I was in this position was 44 years ago in the womb, but I’m in this for the long haul. My wife looks slightly weathered dripping sweat and her eyeliner is streaming down her face. Well, “for better or worse” is what we committed to so we press on.

12:40p
The overweight Hispanic man two spots over has sweat running down his legs. At least I think its sweat. He is holding every position and has not had a sip of water since we walked in. He is making me look bad and I hate him.

12:44p
I consider that if anyone in this room farted that we would all certainly perish.

12:52p
It is now 140 degrees and 100% humidity. I am covered from head to toe in sweat. There is not a square millimeter on my body that is not slippery and sweaty. I am so slimy that I feel like a sea lion or a maybe sea eel. Not even a bear trap could hold me. The sweat is stinging my eyeballs and I can no longer see.

12:55p
This room stinks of asparagus, cloves, tuna and tacos. There is no food in the room. I realize that this is an amalgamation of the body odors of 30 people in a 140 degree room for the last 55 minutes. Seriously, enough with the asparagus, ok?

1:01p
140 degrees and 130% humidity. Look, bitch, I need my space here so don’t get all pissy with me if I accidentally sprayed you with sweat as I flipped over. Seriously, is that where this relationship is going? Get over yourself. We need counseling and she needs to be medicated. Stat!

1:09p
150 degrees and cloudy. And hot. I can no longer move my limbs on my own. I have given up on attempting any of the commands this Chinese chick is yelling out at us. I will lay sedentary until the aid unit arrives. I will buy this building and then have it destroyed.
I lose consciousness.

1:15p
I have a headache and my wife is being a selfish bitch. I can’t really breathe. All I can think about is holding a cup worth of hot sand in my mouth. I cannot remember what an ice cube is and cannot remember what snow looks like. I consider that my only escape might be a crab walk across 15 bodies and then out of the room. I am paralyzed, and may never walk again so the whole crab walk thing is pretty much out.

1:17p
I cannot move at all and cannot reach my water. Is breathing voluntary or involuntary? If it’s voluntary, I am screwed. I stopped participating in the class 20 minutes ago. Hey, lady! I paid for this frickin class, ok?! You work for me! Stop yelling at everyone and just tell us a story or something. It’s like juice and cracker time, ok?

1:20p
It is now 165 degrees and moisture is dripping from the ceiling. The towel that I am laying on is no longer providing any wicking or drying properties. It is actually placing additional sweat on me as I touch it. My towel reeks. I cannot identify the smell but no way can it be from me. Did someone spray some stank on my towel or something?

1:30p
Torture session is over. I wish hateful things upon the instructor. She graciously allows us to stay and ‘cool down’ in the room. It is 175 degrees. Who cools down in 175 degrees? A Komodo Dragon? My wife has left the room. Probably to throw up.

1:34p
My opportunity to escape has arrived. I roll over to my stomach and press up to my knees. It is warmer as I rise up from ground level – probably by 15 degrees. So let’s conservatively say it’s 190. I muster my final energy and slowly rise. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Towards the door. Towards the door.

1:37p
The temperature in the lobby is 72 degrees. Both nipples stiffen to diamond strength and my penis begins to retract into my abdomen from the 100 degree temp swing. I can once again breathe though so I am pleased. I spot my future ex wife in the lobby. We had such a good thing going but I know that no measure of counseling will be able to unravel the day’s turmoil and mental scaring.

1:47p
Arrive at Emerald City Smoothie and proceed to order a 32 oz beverage. 402 calories, 0 fat and 14 grams of protein — effectively negating any caloric burn or benefit from the last 90 minutes. I finish it in 3 minutes and spend the next 2 hours writing this memoir.

3:47p
Create Craigslist ad while burning final 2 grams of protein from Smoothie and before the “shakes” consume my body.

4:29p
Note to self – check car for missing wet yoga towel in am

Conference delegate – a better ROI

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The Fall conference season is starting, but what is your attitude to conferences? Do you sign up as an enthusiastic delegate? Do you feel you need to attend, but resent the time away from the family? Or are you a conscientious objector who stays at home catching up via conference videos and blogs?

Flawed thinking

Maybe you’re thinking about conferences the wrong way.  And organisers need to take note.

It costs a ton of time and money to go to a conference. So, other than the parties and freebies, why go? If you cast your mind back to last year’s – or last month’s – conference, what do you remember?

Now, social media is starting to change the nature of conferences.

Presentations: Before it was about listening to sessions. Now they are available streamed in perfect quality on YouTube or the conference website. Or at least the slide decks are available for download.
Coverage:  Analysts, bloggers and delegates will all be tweeting and blogging during the sessions for the benefit of delegates and those stay-at-homes. Which means the organizer needs to provide wifi and a room which is not pitch black.
Networking: Before you might make a few valuable contacts. Now with Twitter and Facebook you form offline relationships before the event. And at the event you meet the people face to face. Putting a face to the gravatar and finding out if they match up to their online profile….
Organization: The set up of the conference needs to reflect these changes. The agenda needs to allow for more networking,  the venue needs wifi to enable people to connect, and there should be space for informal meetings.  Finally, the organizers should not be overly concerned if people are not attending sessions, but instead are engaged in conversations with other delegates.

This means that the conference starts well before the actual day (making contacts, arranging to meet) and lasts beyond the event (listening to sessions, reading blogs).

So next conference, focus on engaged conversations. The one on one discussions of what someone is working on. Helping a friend think about a a project approach or solve a thorny  problem. Discover why it is the CMO not the CIO with the IT budget. Sneaking out to go to a coffee shop with a very cool CEO…

Small talk or engaged conversations?

Want some ideas to break the ice and get beyond small talk?  Take a look at this TED blog

Not ALL Silicon Valley CEOs are psychopaths

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Last night Pando Daily ran one of their “Fireside Chats” with the LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, hosted by Rackspace in San Francisco and sponsored by  TriNet and Atlassian.

It was an entertaining evening but also very educational.  Partly because Sarah Lacy, sassy founder of Pando Daily, was not afraid to answer to probing and off the wall questions – “So let’s start with grooming – how do often do you shave to get the stubble look?” – and because Jeff was happy to play along. Sarah got as good as she gave.

Not all of it was a surprise, as Jeff had recently been interviewed by Fortune magazine and his great attitude and philosophies come shining through. But it was great hearing him talk about how he think s about life, management and the vision of LinkedIn.

What came over is that Jeff is a very thoughtful, likeable and charismatic CEO.  In many ways, similar to the founder and Chairman, Reid Hoffman. So a refreshing change from the celebrity, egomaniac CEOs that populate Silicon Valley. We all know who these are and the worrying issue is that the younger up and coming CEOs are using the ego-CEOs as role models. To be successful, you clearly have to behave like and arsehole.

But what is more interesting, or scary, is the startling commonality between the ego-CEO traits and those of psychopaths.

Psychopaths lack empathy, are pathological liars, have an enormous sense of self-worth, are impulsive, irresponsible and won’t accept responsibility for their own actions.

They make up 1% of the total population, 25% of the criminal population. The Psy-Fi Blog in their blog Is your CEO a Psychopath? puts a strong case for as high as 4% of corporate boardrooms have psychopaths as inmates. I haven’t done the exhaustive research, but it feels like this is way too low when you look around the Valley.

Here are some traits to watch out for, or maybe aspire to if you want to make it to the top of the corporate world.

  • They have superficial charm: They are a smooth talker and very charming.
  • They are self-centered and think they are way more important than others, even if in reality they aren’t.
  • They have a need for stimulation and is prone to boredom.
  • Their behavior is deceptive: They lie and cheat without difficulty. They don’t mind being caught.
  • They manipulate others for personal gain.
  • They show little remorse or guilt. Sometimes They’ll say there sorry, just so others will stop bugging her/him.
  • Their emotional response is shallow.
  • They are callous with a lack of empathy. They feels no pity.
  • They lives off others or has a predatory attitude.
  • They have poor self-control.
  • They are promiscuous.
  • They had behavioral problems at an early age already.
  • They lacks the ability to set realistic long term goals.
  • They have an impulsive lifestyle. They are a risk-taker.
  • They behave irresponsibly.
  • They always blame others for their behavior.
  • They can only commit to short term relationships.

As this presentation from the UK’s Institute of Risk Management suggests there are a range of possible problems with psychopaths in the boardroom.  These include risky decision making, unethical behavior and a lack of loyalty to the company and stakeholders: does this sound familiar?  One of the problems with these people is they’re very good at managing upwards – they charm superiors, manipulate peers and abuse subordinates.  Once they get in senior positions it’s easy to see how problems could escalate.

So the argument is that the rise of the mantra of value maximisation, increased corporate instability and the ever increasing turnover of staff has allowed corporate psychopaths to flourish, further reinforced by the desire of the media to find ‘media-friendly CEOs’.  Whilst their PR teams massage their images as cuddly, empathetic leaders they are in fact ruthless and driven. And it appears it is fine line between the focused, driven leader and the psychopath.

But it doesn’t have to be so, as Jeff showed. In fact, it was summarised in his instinctive answer to the final off-the-wall question from Sarah.

What mediocre super-power would you like to have? The answer  – “infinite patience”.

Sue your way to a better Gartner MQ position

dollar's flow in black hole

NetScout has just filed a lawsuit against Gartner because they were ranked a “Challenger” claiming it was punishment for not spending enough with Gartner. David Carr examines this issue in an article in Information Week.  But is it the only way?

If you are a multi-million dollar vendor then perhaps you can spend your way into the MQ. I couldn’t possibly comment. But if you are a smaller,  innovative and growing software vendor, that is not an option. But if you are going to accelerate growth without piling on expensive sales guy and make it easier for the large corporates to find you and get comfortable placing big orders with you, then you need to create relationships with the analyst community.

Analysts are important

Analysts have the ear of people with the purse strings. When they speak, the C-Suite listens. When a company goes out to tender for a third party product invariably an analyst will be involved in the decision making process, whether directly as a result of a consultation or indirectly through a research paper. They are able to influence not only potential customers, but they also coach and advise your potential acquirer on their product strategy including which vendors to buy.

Being included in an analyst research note is worth more than 100 blog posts, column inches in the FT/ WSJ or exhibiting at the next xyz conference. You need the analysts, whether you like it or not, to survive in both the short-term and thrive in the long term because their word carries weight. If a customer refers to an analyst for a product shortlist and you’ve never engaged with the analyst you can guarantee you’ll never make that list no matter how mind-blowingly awesome your product is.

Analyst Relations (AR) can deliver far greater short term and long term tangible benefits than any PR campaigns. Yet many vendors start engaging PR before they even consider AR.

It’s never too early

It takes time to build a relationship with the right analysts that cover your product’s area. Let’s not confuse a relationship with meeting the analyst once or twice and fire-hosing them with your product pitch. You are aiming for a relationship of mutual respect, and that takes time to develop which is why engaging as early as possible is critical for survival for a startup. Done well it can position a vendor ahead of the short list in product selections and gain the attention of the leaders of industry, the media, and the competition. Poor (or no) analyst relations can result in your product being ignored by potential clients and it may limit your penetration in your existing clients

Being spotted by an analyst early on is major kudos for a small company but also for the analyst because they love to be the one who discovered a cool new vendors and write about them. And it’s also their opportunity to help you out and form part of your success. Analysts are no different from anyone else, they love being part of the action and have an ego to fuel. And again, it can’t be stressed enough, if they don’t know you neither will their clients when they ask about the market.

But they are expensive and we don’t have the time!

Certainly there are costs with engaging with analysts. Most charge an annual fee to be a client and have access to the analysts and research. But don’t think that you can buy your way to the top of a Magic Quadrant or Wave, or into the minds of the analysts. Or that paying for one or two consulting engagements with the analysts will do it. Think relationship, not prostitution.

Often it is the amount of money that vendors perceive they have to spend which stops them building a relationship with the analysts. The issue is most vendors spend too much money in the wrong places. It doesn’t have to be that way.

And apart from the hefty fees they ask you to sign up for there’s also the potential overhead of someone in an Analyst Relations role. Traditionally this is a new, fairly junior hire or it is outsourced to a PR/AR agency. Both of these lead to the wrong relationship being developed with the analysts, but it is a very common mistake.

Analysts need to be briefed on product functionality, but they are far more interested in customer stories. However, meeting or calls with analysts, understanding their needs and providing the information they need in the format that they want can be time consuming. They often feel like they are more difficult to deal with than clients. But they can afford to be as their influence and value is so much greater than even your best client.

What is required is a carefully crafted strategy and deep understanding of what drives analysts and how they operate. It also needs someone who has the ability and gravitas to engage them as peers and forge that professional relationship your company and product deserves. It’s not about booking appointments or grovelling for time. It is the role of a senior exec or founder who inevitably has other priorities – company operation, client sales or product strategy.

So how do I make this work?

Few senior executives have engaged with analysts or developed an effective analyst strategy. And with conflicting priorities they do not have the time or luxury to learn. But companies readily hire a Non Exec Director to add an external perspective, exercising their ancient Rolodex and to sit on a board. Their brief is often financial or governance and they offer pithy advice like “if you sell more and spend less”.

A more cost effective approach is to hire a Non-Exec Director or Advisor who understands Analyst Relations and can help shape the analyst strategy, coach the senior team on the best way to engage with analysts, and act as a sounding board for decisions. They will add more value to the business as your go to market plans are meaningless without the visibility in the market that strong analyst relationships will bring.

For the price of a junior in your AR/PR firm you can bag a NED or Advisor who knows how to tango with the analysts.

In summary: Brains, not budget. And leverage the skills of others.

This post was co-authored with Theo Priestley  He has written analysis on the industry and tech space in general since 2007 which isn’t long to get the notoriety and recognition he has earned. He has collaborated with and advised the large and the small, from stealth startups to industry established players, introducing new ideas and connections, adding value, industry insight, analyst relations and marketing analysis for those who ask for it.  As an independent business transformation consultant of over ten years he is closer to the real enterprise issues that keep the execs up at night and what they’re looking for to solve them.

#BPM is dead. Nothing to see here. Move along

Process

Like the frog in water being steadily heated that it doesn’t notice the change until it boils to death, “BPM” (vendors, analysts, bloggers) have not recognised the gradual shift. But, the signs of BPM death are all around. Sorry to sounds so negative, a but pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist.

No one is buying BPM. Customers are buying “increase sales effectiveness”, “more engaged customer experience”, “more responsive support”, “regulatory compliance”, “better shared services”…… All these require BPM techniques, methodologies and technologies.

Which leads me to – BPM is embedded in specific applications such as CRM, Support, Call Centre, Compliance.

So the role of generic BPM is dead. It is everything and nothing.

Case in point. Cordys, who has “a next generation Business Process Management Suite” was recently bought by OpenText for $33m. Cordys has had $180m of investment. And then compare it with the explosive growth in vendors selling BPM wrapped up as customer service, or support, or even managing expenses etc etc.