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What if the bad news is right?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Ask an analyst and they’ll tell you. They are an opinionated bunch and if you dig correctly they’ll say exactly why your baby is ugly.

Ugh. That hurts. But you have to know what they think so you can address it.

In many cases an analyst opinion comes down to communication. You haven’t briefed them enough. You haven’t briefed them well. They’ve misunderstood. They’re confused. In the scheme of things, that’s easy to fix. The right briefing with the right information by the right people will make that go away, or fade to insignificance. You know how to do that.

But what if they’re right? What if they are an accurate reflection of what your customers think? What if they understand the competitive landscape and see things that aren’t clear to you? Analysts can be a highly valuable source of intelligence - if your company can listen and respond.

For most executives, this news is not well-received. “The analyst doesn’t know what he’s doing!” “She has no clue about our market!” “He’s an egomaniac that likes to hear himself talk!” These are the typical first thoughts and reactions. But analyst insights are gold and need to be treated as such. If the company responds appropriately, analyst relations will have a huge impact.

You have to approach the execs with this gingerly. I usually send an email, rather than deliver the news real time. That gives them the chance to get those immediate thoughts out of their system and get down to the real work.

Next, I attend a leadership meeting. This is an opportunity to share the feedback in person and have an interactive dialogue. The ultimate question is whether to follow or ignore the advice and establish an action plan if needed.

I also communicate back to the analyst. If we follow their advice, they need to know this. If we will ignore, we kindly let them know that and explain our position. They know vendors won’t listen to everything, but they respect and appreciate that you have your own vision and that you are listening to them carefully. Response either way scores you points.

Manage this well and your relations will skyrocket. Your company will become stronger and healthier. Reports and coverage will show the results. And you’ll be the hero.

Does this jive with your experience?

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1 Comment

David Hybels
David Hybels
Sep 02, 2020

Years ago I provided 'ugly baby' feedback to a CEO - he got very upset.   Then I pushed it further by asking…. 'what if she's right?'   A week later CEO thanked me and it led us to fixing a long-standing customer issue that we had. Delivering ugly baby news is critical.   Think of the impact of not supplying the info. 

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