Product Manager Meet Your New BFF: The Analyst

by drjim on February 24, 2014

Product managers need to get close to their market's analysts

Product managers need to get close to their market’s analysts
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Product managers spend a great deal of time looking inside of their company in order to determine what their product development definition is telling them needs to be done next in order to both create and market their product. What we can forget is that the real world in which our product will be competing is a crowded, confusing place. Our customers often turn to analysts in order to get advice on what they should do. We need to make some friends in the world of analysts…

Why Should A Product Manager Bother With Analysts?

As a product manager we are all very busy. Having to take time out of your day to “play nice” with one or more analysts sure seems like a lot of work. What’s in it for you? It turns out that in just about every market segment, analysts play a very important role. Because of the job that they do, they have a unique perspective on who the players in the market are along with being experts in how the market works.

The reason that analysts are so very important to product managers is because of the role that they play in your potential customer’s lives. Analysts are key influencers when it comes time for your customers to make their buying decision. Learn how to successfully talk to analysts and you’ll have something else to add to your product manager resume.

What analysts do is to write reports about your market. Their reports are then bought and read by many of your potential customers. Additionally, when a reporter is writing a story about your market they often reach out to the analysts to get their viewpoint on what’s happening in the market. Clearly taking the time to get on the good side of the analysts who cover your market would be time well spent by a product manager!

How Do You Make Friends With An Analyst?

Just having a great product is not enough for a product manager to develop a good relationship with an analyst who is covering their market. When an opportunity to talk with an analyst comes your way, your job is going to be to talk intelligently about your product and to be able to clearly explain to them what makes your product both different and better than all of the other products currently on the market.

The last thing that you want to do is to go into an interview with an analyst cold. Instead, take the time to prepare. The first thing that you’ll want to do is to take a look at other things that this analyst has written. Do they have a particular angle that they like to come from or do they have strong opinions? Keep in mind that an analyst’s time is valuable (to them) and so you need to keep your product presentation short and sweet – just the facts please.

All too often product managers may confuse a presentation to an analyst as being a type of sales presentation. It’s not. Be completely honest in your presentation – an analyst can see though any smokescreen that you might try to create. Make sure that you come prepared. Analysts have already looked at your competition and so they’ll be able to ask detailed questions about your product. Make sure that you have the answers. Finally, since an analyst has looked at your competition, use this meeting as an opportunity to ask him or her questions about how your product compares to other products on the market.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

In order for your product to be a success, your customers have to (1) know about it and (2) have to buy it. In a competitive market your customers will often reach out to analysts to help them understand the market and the different solutions that are available to them. This means that as product managers we need to make friends in the world of analysts even if this isn’t spelled out in our product manager job description.

Analysts are people who spend all of their time studying the market that you are trying to sell your products into. This means that they understand your competition and the products that they are offering. When you have a chance to talk with an analyst, you need to come prepared. Be concise and make sure that you ask them a lot of questions because they may have unique information that you don’t have.

I can’t say it enough, but I’m willing to say it again: product managers can’t make their product a success all by themselves. It really does take a village. Industry analysts are an important part of the mix: you need to get on their good side. Make yourself available to them and take the time to do your homework so that you know what they want to know. A little time invested here can pay big rewards farther down the road…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: If you meet with multiple analysts, do you think that you have to be careful to tell each one of them exactly the same thing?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Psst – hey product manager, would you like to make some more money with your product? Guess what – you can! All you have to do is to raise your product’s price. Uh oh, does this scare you just a bit? Are you concerned about making your existing and potential customers angry with you? I’ve got some good news – you can raise your price and keep your customers. I’ll show you how…

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