To understand the importance of customer references to an industry analyst, it helps to understand their role, and the impact of what they do. Why do they need customer references and how can the information you provide to them influence their work?
Analysts are important because of their ability to influence buyers, to provide insight into the market through research, to advise vendors on strategy, and support media/PR efforts. A well-briefed analyst can be a powerful advocate for your business.
To help them understand your business, it’s important to be able to provide them with the information they need to form positive opinions when writing about you, when talking about you in public, and when they answer questions about you in private. This information includes customer references.
Analysts may request customer references to support a research report or as part of a one-to-one briefing. Formal requests, such as to support Magic Quadrants, will follow strict qualifying criteria such as geographical reach, turnover, size, and are always delivered to meet a deadline. It’s important that these criteria are adhered to. Analysts can’t complete their research without them and inability to provide any can affect your inclusion in a report.
On a more informal basis, as part of general information gathering on your business, analysts may request to speak with a customer to broaden their understanding of what you do, and get an ‘unbiased’ opinion of whether the solution is any good. These discussions are part of the network of conversations that analysts have all the time. Analysts spend about 30% of their time in end user discussions, so having reference customers available to talk is a useful tool to have.
Analysts are interested in what a business does, how it goes to market, what its plans for the future are and equally importantly, what real life customer examples there are to showcase the benefits of your solutions. They look for a combination of vision, strategy, delivery, results and certainty – this feeds into their decision on whether to recommend and endorse you. Unlike journalists, they are not looking for soundbites or spin, they want facts – and a customer story is an ideal vehicle to convey these to the analyst.
Want to find out more about how to make your reference content irresistible to analysts, then get in touch with our resident AR expert, Natalie Weiner.