Saving money on contracts with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly is not simple

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgA common client inquiry we receive is in the context of someone negotiating with Gartner. Our clients want to know why in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, when vendors are cutting budgets left and right, that Gartner does not exhibit greater flexibility (i.e., cut prices) when it comes to contract negotiations. The short answer is that due to its end-user advisory market dominance – we estimate that Gartner has ~70% of the end user contracts – it does not have to be flexible. 

However, this issue is a little more complex than slapping a “monopolist” tag on folks over on Top Gallant Road. The reality is that there is an effective duopoly with tacit partner Forrester which gives them both the flexibility to be inflexible with it comes to negotiations. The last time this market saw pricing and packaging that in anyway favored the buyer was the mid-90’s when Giga and later META used significantly lower prices and “all you can eat” research seats to take market share from Gartner and Forrester. Alas, today there are no such firms that can play that role to counter Gartner and Forrester. As a consequence, the Big Two’s CEOs habitually inform Wall Street that they are maintaining their pricing and discounting discipline.

However, it is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to wrangle a better discount from the sales rep. Rather it takes:

  • Knowledge about the firms’ business models
  • Knowledge about the firms’ research methodology and analyst culture
  • Knowledge about the true business value of […]

AR belongs in Marketing – a dead idea

Analyst Relations PlanningPublic policy wonk and Fortune Magazine columnist Matt Miller’s new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity got us at SageCircle thinking “Hmm, are there dead ideas holding back analyst relations?” Of course there are! This is one in an occasional series of posts that will address the dead ideas that impact AR programs and their ability to delivery strategic value to their companies. These posts are meant to be provocative and not necessarily definitive in their new ideas and suggestions.

Dead Idea: AR belongs in Marketing

Back Story: In the time before there was a dedicated AR position, industry analysts calling vendors asking for a briefing were often bounced around from one department to another. More often than not, the analyst would end up on the public relations doorstep because what the analyst did sort of sounded like a reporter. Because PR usually reported to Marketing, AR became a de facto marketing function even if it became an independent department.

Problem: Putting AR in Marketing has multiple problems, but a big one is consistency. One of AR’s critical success factors is consistently interacting with analysts because influencing the analysts is a process that takes a long time. AR cannot turn on and turn off interactions and be successful. Unfortunately, Marketing programs in most vendors are the model of inconsistency with resources being changed frequently.  If resources and programs are cut during recessions and restored during good times the damage for AR has been done in terms of:

  • Institutional memory is lost as AR staff gets cut or moves to other companies 
  • Relationships with analysts go stale due to lack of interactions or the inability to work with the same people
  • Sales and revenues are impacted by analysts with outdated or incomplete information providing inappropriate advice to customers and prospects
  • Intelligence dries up about analyst opinions and intentions because analyst contracts get cut reducing inquiry access to analysts

New Idea: Move AR out of Marketing and into Strategy. While there are several different options for a new home for AR (e.g., sales, product management and investor relations) each have their own issues. Strategy on the other hand has a number of advantages […]

AR-Sales partnering – comments from AR managers at the Coffee Talk

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThere was a great turn out at the two February Coffee Talks on the topic of AR and Sales partnering to drive revenues. The best part of the Coffee Talks is when AR managers share their experiences and ask questions. Here are some of the comments from the past two Coffee Talks. 

Comment: Dana Stiffler (AMR analyst, Twitter handle) tracks the value of the deals she is influencing…

SageCircle: Not many analysts are savvy enough to formally track that kind of information like Dana. However, most analysts can give you a top-of-mind feel for the number of deals they are advising technology buyers on in a typical week or month and a rough average of size per deal. Not scientific, but this info can provide useful anecdotal points for AR teams to use with their executive sponsors.

Comment: I had a panel at a sales kickoff where sales folks told their success stories of working with analysts and AR… it was the best way to instantly gain credibility.

SageCircle: Sales reps want to know what techniques work so this type of “customer panel” is incredibility effective. To make it even more effective, AR can follow with tips-and-tricks and lessons learned from these sales reps to be posted on the internal sales portal/blog, included in regular sales newsletters, and during regular sales team conference calls. Repetition is a critical success factor to making sure that the training about the analyst impact on sales deals sticks.

Comment: Most good sales people understand the value of relationships and once you’ve helped them, they “pay you back” by keeping you informed… when they remember.  Best thing is to keep a tickler file and check back with them regularly for a status.

SageCircle: One of the common questions we get when talking about AR-Sales Partnerships is whether the sale reps will give anything back or share credit with AR. The answer is absolutely because smart sales reps will want […]

A warm compliment for Merv Adrian and an interesting comment about the Forrester layoffs

Background:  This text originally came in as a comment to Forrester experiences analyst layoffs. Because of the last line, I did not approve the comment leaving it as a private communication to SageCircle. But I did tweet that someone had sent along a very nice compliment for Merv Adrian. That triggered this comment to the original (and not published) comment:  “Saw your tweet. Oops. sorry. meant keep IP confidential. pls reveal details. =)”  So with that permission from the author, we are now publishing his or her comment. However, rather than a comment I decided to elevate it to a full post. BTW, you can follow Merv Adrian on Twitter at www.twitter.com/merv.

photo-merv-adrian-official-forresterIt is truly sad to say good-bye to co-workers especially during a lay off.. I will miss each person who has left. But it is quite a travesty when you lay off someone who is an icon, someone who makes a big difference in everyone’s lives, and someone who has had the company’s best interest at heart at all times. I have struggled to tell this story about my team and the more I wait, the more I regret it. I must tell. I shall share. I now reveal.So I say this with great conviction: “It is unconscionable for Forrester to lay off Mervyn T. Adrian without a proper explanation to our clients and our employees”

Why?

I was there when we first bought Giga. It was a scary time like now. The Internet bubble had burst. We had finished 2 rounds of layoffs. Our business was tanking. Our stock in the toilet.

When we bought Giga, we were nervous. Our first reaction was who are all these gray hairs? We were all much younger. Why’s everyone a VP? We only had principal analysts as the highest title and there were only 2 or 3 of those. Would we get along with these old farts? They seem crotchety and nerdy. How come they all work from home? We lived in a must show up to HQ culture.

But throughout the acquisition, this bubbly gentleman would reach out. He showed us how to work together. He showed us the value of an inquiry to clients. He showed us the how to collaborate across teams. He would reach out and mentor new analysts. He would tell it to us like […]

Do I place my bets on AR-Sales partnering or adopting social media?

icon-dollar-euro.jpgQuestion: If I had to choose between starting an AR-Sales partnership or launching a social media initiative, which way should I go? If I did both, but with limited resources, how should I divide my efforts?

 During the happy hour after the first session of our STRATEGIC ISSUES advanced AR seminar, one of the attendees asked these great questions. Both Dave and Carter answered immediately and in unison:

     “AR-Sales!”

Why? Even a simple AR-Sales partnership pilot will give the AR team an opportunity to gather real world examples of the analysts impacting sales opportunities. These types of hard sales numbers, even in anecdotal form, are powerful tools for illustrating the strategic value of AR. In addition, a pilot project can […]

What are the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor AR roles? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgComment/Question: Re: your point below about jobs for senior analysts, here’s an idea for a blog entry – the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor analyst relations roles. That ought to stimulate some discussion on the comments section.

Rob Curran, wicked smart AR professional at Waggener Edstrom, sent along that comment after this week’s newsletter where we wrote in light of the recent spate of layoffs at analyst firms: 

Do you know of a job appropriate for a senior analyst? – Now is the time to grab talent. The job could be at a firm you know is hiring or maybe your company has a position open in product management, strategy or market research. If so, notify the analysts you know that are “in transit” between positions. Not just former Forrester analysts, but the others as well.”

It looked like Rob noticed we did not include analyst relations (AR) as a possible job for former analysts. Hopefully that was a simple oversight on my part (this is Carter, a former Gartner analyst, writing) and not a Freudian slip. Obviously there can be real value to having a former analyst in the AR role. On the other hand, I have seen some former analysts really botch the job of AR.

This is a topic that really does […]

“Prime the Feedback Loop” VP of Marketing’s excellent advice about Gartner

rocket-for-startups.jpgThis advice is just as useful for large vendors as startups

In Gartner for startups Michael Waclawiczek, VP of Marketing at expressor software, has joined the conversation started by Talend’s Yves de Montcheuil and Gartner’s Andy Bitterer (see Vendor complains in a very public blog post about Gartner’s Data Integration Magic Quadrant)  about startups ability to be included on Magic Quadrants.

Dr. Waclawiczek’s observations and advice are dead on and well worth reading. While directed at startups, his main points are applicable to large vendors as well. A quick summary:

  • For any vendor selling to high-end/large customers, dealing with Gartner is a given. Even if you decide to ignore them, your customers won’t.
  • At some point, you have to realize that the MQ is designed to meet the needs of Gartner customers – big companies looking for information, insights and backside-cover for big-ticket IT purchases.
  • My advice to fellow startups? Give up hope of making a real impact in “your” MQ, for now at least. But don’t give up entirely.
  • Work the Gartner system the best you can. Pull every lever you can reach.
  • Set your sights on […]