You don’t have to be a Gartner client to get a good “dot” on the Magic Quadrant

One of the continuing myths in the IT industry is that Gartner demands payment from vendors for placement on its research. This even came up in a comment – anonymously posted of course – on a blog post written by Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman (bio, blog, Twitter) called A Rant – My Integrity as an Analyst.

SageCircle knows this is not the case from personal experience, but also because we get collaborating evidence from our clients. Just last week we were on an inquiry with a client, a small software company, who was included on a Magic Quadrant in the Visionary square months before they even considered signing up for a Gartner contract. The reason for the inquiry with SageCircle? In the draft update of the Magic Quadrant their dot had moved to the left. Yikes. However, the reason for the less favorable position had nothing to do with their client status or the size of their contract. Rather it was because they had not noticed that the lead author on the Magic Quadrant had changed. Once we figured this out, they understood that their problem was that they had never briefed the new analyst.

We also know of large vendors who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with Gartner year in and year out only never to get onto a Magic Quadrant on which they wanted to be included.

However, in the past it has also been true that some unscrupulous Gartner sales representatives have played the research placement card when they desperately needed to […]

Insights from Forrester’s CEO presentation at an investor conference

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of Forrester Research, the number two advisory analyst firm, as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research (NASDAQ: FORR) Chairman & CEO George Colony (Twitter, blog) and CFO Michael Doyle presented (replay available for approximately 90 days) at the William Blair & Co. Emerging Growth Stock Conference on Tuesday, October 6, 2009. Because the presentation was oriented toward investors that might not know much about Forrester, instead of the usual Wall Street analysts on quarterly earnings calls, there were some tid-bits of intelligence useful for clients and AR. 

A large number of diverse data points but spread thin: One of the advantages that a large analyst firm has is that its analysts can – not always – have access to a large number of formal and informal data points to include in research and use with end user clients during inquiries. Forrester revealed that its analysts conduct 3,500 vendor briefings, 16,800 inquiries, 250,000 consumer survey responses, and 10,000 large company survey responses.

Sounds like huge numbers, right? Actually these numbers might not seem so impressive when the average per analyst is calculated. Forrester currently lists 193 analysts, not including research associates and researchers. That means that the average number of inquiries per analyst is only 87 per year or seven (7) per month. Of course that is the average, which means that some analysts will be doing much less than the average, maybe as little as three (3) per month or less than one a week.

Calculating the number of briefings per analyst is a little trickier because a single briefing can have multiple analysts in attendance. For this discussion let’s say three analysts per briefing, which then calculates to each analyst getting about six (6) briefings per month. Again, this is not an impressive number when taking into consideration how important vendor information is for advisory analysts.

Of course, inquiry and vendor briefings are not the only sources […]

If AR does not respond, maybe they don’t know who you are

“Remarkably hard to get hold of anyone at Oracle and Microsoft analyst relations.” is a tweet that caught our attention. The twit had a link to his firm’s blog, which then led us to the firm’s main website. The firm was unfamiliar to us (for this post it does not matter the name of the firm), but after digging around for a few minutes it did seem like an analyst firm, but one with a very specific focus. However, at first glance the firm’s specialty did not seem relevant to Oracle and Microsoft so that is maybe why AR did not respond. An unknown analyst requesting AR assistance might only get a single quick glance at their website or blog because most AR teams are so busy responding to known analyst requests and preparing for the next proactive outreach that they do not have the time to do the type of digging that we do. 

Tweet - remarkably hard to get hold of anybody - v 1

One of SageCircle’s common inquiries is “Have you heard of firm x? They just contacted us and we don’t know who they are. Should we respond?” With many hundreds of analyst firms in the ecosystem it is not surprising that AR is not familiar with every one of them. Of the more than 160 analyst firms represented in the Analyst Twitter Directory, there were quite a few that we had to investigate to determine whether they were truly analyst firms. If we had to investigate and ponder then there is little chance that an overworked AR professional would devote the same resources.

AR gets requests from all sorts of people, especially if they post a generic contact link on the website (e.g. AR@companyname.com or a web form). When we ran corporate AR for a major vendor, we would field requests from reporters, Wall Street analysts, college students, competitive intelligence firms working for competitors, consultants, think tank researchers, other vendors’ […]

What would make an analyst firm sales representative really great

During our “Managing Your Gartner and Forrester Expenditure” webinars and inquiries where we were helping clients with contract renewal issues, one comment we frequently heard was about the “great relationship” the contract manager had with a sales rep for an analyst firm. Often the definition of “great” turned out to be a rep that would not harass the client over “violations” of the contract, get the occasional freebie research note, or would bring a visiting analyst around. While these are all nice and useful, this did not strike us as being particular “great.” For both vendor and end-user clients these are more baseline activities that should be expected.

 What we think would truly make a sales representative great is someone who make sure that the client got full business value from their contracts throughout the contract duration. Here are some questions you should consider to determine whether your sales rep might qualify as “great:”

  • Does the sales rep actively work to demonstrate how the client has achieved business value and even hard ROI from the analyst contract?
  • Does the sales rep provide monthly reports on utilization of the services (e.g., the number of inquiries conducted by each advisory seat holder)?
  • Does the sales rep conduct a contract checkup at least quarterly?
  • Does the sales rep actively push clients to use the services purchased?
  • Does the sales rep proactively identify underutilized services and make suggestions to increase the utilization?
  • Does the sales rep proactively identify underutilized services and suggest that the service be given to another person that might use it or suggest swapping the service for a potential more useful service?
  • Does the sales rep work with you about incremental purchases in order to prevent redundant purchases or identify new users for underutilized services?

SageCircle Technique:

  • Vendor and enterprise analyst contract managers need to communicate with their analyst firm account executives the expectations of […]

Defining “analyst consulting day”

Analyst consulting days are full-day engagements where a vendor spends a significant sum to get the use of one or more analysts. Analyst consulting days are not to be confused with projects by the analyst firms’ consulting groups, which often have little or no analyst contribution. There is a distinction between contracting for “analyst consulting time” and contracting with the consulting side of an analyst firm. “Analyst consulting time” refers to purchasing the time of an individual analyst, usually in one-day units. Contracting with the consulting side of an analyst firm usually refers to research projects with specific deliverables that are designed to meet the intelligence, strategy or marketing needs of a vendor company. Multi-client studies are common deliverables from the consulting side.

Gartner uses the term SAS (strategic advisory service) to describe analyst consulting days. While other firms use […]

Never assume during an annual renewal that the analyst service contract remains the same

Annual syndicated research subscriptions are a common approach for enterprises and vendors when it comes to gaining access to published research and advisory. However, for all the value and convenience in this type of contract, there is a potential “gotcha” to watch for during the contract renewal – changes in the terms and conditions.

Often contract renewals follow a simple path of adjusting the number of seats and add-on services based on past year’s usage, new requirements, and new offerings by the firm. Often the analyst firm sales representative will send along the new contract with a note that says “it is basically the same as last year, so please look at pages x and y to make sure we have captured the number of seats and services you need.  Then sign on page z.” If the client does not carefully go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb they might miss that the “basically the same” contract actually has some key changes to the terms and conditions that severely limit their use of the analyst services or gives the analyst firms the right to audit the client for contract compliance. 

In some cases, the firm sales rep does not know that the changes are there, they are simply using the new standard contract. In other cases, the sales rep is aware of the changes but does not […]