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Should Marketers Manage Analyst Questionnaires Like an RFP?

analyst reports

When it comes to winning in high-tech B2B, there’s no question that scoring highly on analyst reports and other written research is critical to success. Analyst reports provide your customers and prospects with independent analysis that seeks to illuminate trends and market projections. Often the reports include grids and tables that visually represent the leaders compared to vendosrs the analyst deems are falling behind or lack key features or sales momentum.

Companies purchasing technology read these reports to inform purchasing decisions, justify their vendor choice or build a short list of possible suppliers.

Given the direct – and significant — impact that analysts and the reports they produce can have on the business, marketers justifiably contribute a sizeable portion of their budget to analyst relations. Much of that investment goes toward relationship building, briefing analysts on new products or attending analyst conferences. What often gets overlooked in all the AR activity is the hard work involved with filling out analyst surveys and questionnaires. Are you truly capturing the knowledge of your company’s experts and putting your best foot forward?

So, what is the best way to tackle the analyst questionnaire? In most companies, this usually falls to an overworked product manager or in far too many cases just someone with some spare cycles. Getting the responses to the point where they are credible usually involves a last-minute scramble and some all-nighters. Best foot forward? Hardly. To break this cycle, more sophisticated marketing teams are discovering that cloud-based response management software, like what many organizations are using to respond to RFPs, helps them get the analyst questionnaire response process under control as well.

Many Resources Required

A product marketer’s job is busy enough, even without responses to analyst market surveys to coordinate and complete. Much like RFPs, analyst questionnaires often require detailed answers from subject matter experts (SMEs) scattered across many departments. A successful response will often require specific input on financial data, sales information, technical capabilities and more.

Industry analyst questionnaires typically come in the form of an Excel or Word document, with dozens to hundreds of questions. The questions range from basic company info to detailed summaries of annual user activity, and even the long term executive financial strategy. Even if you’re a product expert, you probably won’t be able to answer more than 30 percent of the questions independently. This can require input from 10 to 15 SMEs and 20 to 25 hours of time just gathering input.

Often the questions in an analyst report can be found in a document developed previously, such as an RFx or a security questionnaire developed for potential customers. Digging through those documents can be a tedious task and often results in duplicating efforts. This is where cloud-based RFP software can help. By having a centralized database to collect this kind of company information in one place, without fear of version-control issues, you can save countless hours that would otherwise be spent chasing around SMEs and company leaders.

Covering the Waterfront

Filling out analyst report questionnaires thoroughly and completely is vital to having a good outcome. Given all the effort involved in completing analyst questionnaires, companies will find themselves having to opt out of participating in some questionnaires altogether, rather than risk submitting an incomplete response.

Doing so is a bit of a slippery slope. Sure, you saved some resources and budget, but now you run the risk of not being represented on a vendor grid at all. And that can give your competitors a leg up. Especially when you consider that 57 percent of the purchase decision is completed before a customer even calls a supplier, and 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. Without question, much of pre-decision research involves acquiring and reading through relevant analyst reports. Being left out of a report can mean your sales team won’t even get a call!

In a perfect world, you’re able to devote the time and resources to put forth a quality response for any and all analyst questionnaires in your space, including those from top-tier analysts and niche-market experts. Every analyst can have a major influence on your customers and projects and whether you end up on the short list or out of sight, out of mind. Using a response management platform will help you curate all of your content so you can answer questionnaires faster and more efficiently, keeping your company in the game when it counts the most.

Ganesh Shankar

Ganesh Shankar is the CEO and co-founder of RFPIO. He can be reached at ganesh@rfpio.com.
Ganesh Shankar