Right services – Align the services you buy to better match the reason for info or advice [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 3]

(Based on comment’s Forrester VP Eric Lobel and review of notes and Forrester quarterly earning call transcripts, we are changing this post to remove Forrester from the discussion that the move to role based research is a means to significantly raise the price of syndicated research. While Forrester executives do regularly talk about raising the average selling price of its services through reduction of discounts and annual price increases, there is no price difference between WholeView and RoleView.)

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgForrester and Gartner has have a variety of services that they offer at different price points. One of the products that both firms are Gartner is pushing their its sales forces to sell more of is the role-based products (“RoleView” at Forrester and “Gartner for Business/IT Leaders” at Gartner). During its 1Q08 earnings conference call Forrester’s CEO even introduced a new metric, “roles per client,” for financial analysts to track. Gartner’s CEO updates financial analysts each quarter on the progress his firm has made in switching clients from traditional Core Research seats to the role-based seats.

Why the emphasis? Switching a client from Forrester WholeView or Gartner Core Research to one of the Gartner role-based seats is effectively a significant (up to 100%) price increase. The draw is for the additional “analysis” more suited to the person’s role.  While a role-based seat might offer sufficient incremental value to be worth the price difference for some buyers, that might not always be the case. 

It is important for buyers of analyst services, whether enterprises or vendors, to carefully examine all the deliverables associated with services to select those that are best aligned with the buyers’ needs. Too often buyers “over buy,” signing up for a service with deliverables they won’t use. For example, Gartner’s Advisory (can do inquiries with analysts) Seat is much more expensive – up to 4x the price – than a Research (only reads published research) Seat. Why buy an Advisory Seat if the seat holder is only going to read research notes occasionally and does not intend to do inquiry?

This approach also applies when considering buying services from Forrester or Gartner, when an equivalent service at a different firm costs less. Buyers need to carefully analyze the deliverables of competing services to see which ones align better with their needs.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Develop a comparison table that helps you break down services into constituent deliverables and compare offerings side-by-side (click here for example)
  • Highlight which deliverables meet the requirements outlined in Part 2 as must have, nice to have, or not needed
  • Identify which offerings meet your “must have” requirements
  • Focus on those offerings that meet, but not exceed your must have requirements, accepting offerings that offer “nice to have” features only at no additional price

Bottom Line: Don’t overspend on analyst services by buying services that exceed your requirements.

Question: Do you create comparison tables of analyst products before deciding which firms and services to buy?

This post is one in a series on the SageCircle blog about how buyers of analysts service, whether enterprise IT or tech vendors, can ensure they are might the right purchasing decisions. For those analyst clients needing much more depth than what is in this blog series, please check out the SageCircle AR Wiki where you can find a lengthy thread of articles that provide more depth and breadth on this critical topic including checklists and tools.

  1. Using five rights to avoid a wrong when it comes to purchasing Gartner or Forrester services
  2. Right reasons – Evaluate why you are purchasing analyst services
  3. Right services – Align the services you buy to better match the reason for info or advice
  4. Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your reasons
  5. Right price – Acquire those services that meet your basics requirements
  6. Right usage – Drive usage of the services you buy to ensure maximize business value
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11 Responses

  1. Hello Carter,

    As always I am interested in your analysis of the research and advisory world.

    However in this case your description of the role based strategies being implemented by Forrester and Gartner does not accurately describe the cost implications to your audience and missed the principal value proposition of Forrester’s transition. What role based means to Forrester is that we now focus on our clients as unique professionals and our analysts think carefully first about for whom they are writing to frame what they will write.

    In regards to the specific assertion that a switch to a role based approach represents up to a “100% price increase” for Forrester clients, this is simply inaccurate. We are now measuring the number of “roles” served within each client-company; but this transition is purely additive; driven by a desire for greater relevancy and client intimacy. In no way does it limit the access for existing or new Forrester clients nor was there an associated price increase as your post states.

    The scenario you propose in Forrester (Roleview) terms does not exist. With the transition to roles our clients were asked to self-select their role enabling us to better deliver their Forrester experience. It did not add cost. It did help us bring greater relevance to them by servicing them as professionals with distinct responsibilities, objectives and aspirations aligned to their specific role.

    I wanted to address the cost issue here but also recommend a post by Jonny Bentwood and the ensuing comment by my colleague Mark Nemec at Technobabble. I think they thoroughly speak to the overall strategy. http://technobabble2dot0.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/appraising-forresters-role-based-research/

    I hope this has clarified any confusion about the matter but of course I would be happy to continue the discussion with you or any of your readers here or directly. I can be reached at elobel@forresterdotcom.

    Regards,
    Eric Lobel
    VP-Forrester Leadership Boards

  2. Hi Eric, Thanks for the comment. I am out of the office right now so I have to wait until I get to my notes to respond.

    Quick question — there is no, zero, price difference between Wholeview and Roleview?

  3. Hey Carter,

    No there is no price difference. We simply changed the name from Wholeview to Roleview when we became a role based company.

    Regards,
    Eric

  4. Hi Eric, Thanks for the comments. After reviewing source material we have changed the post to eliminate Forrester from the discussion about the goal of roles is to double the price of services.

    Gartner, on the other hand, is clearly using roles as a way to increase prices. For example, here is a quote by Gartner CEO Gene Hall from the Q4 and full FY07 earnings call on February 7, 2008:

    “…we have new products that are very attractive that are typically priced something like twice as high as the discounted old legacy products…”

    Perhaps this pricing difference is something that other players in the marketplace will use in competitive selling situations.

    Kudos to Forrester managers and analysts for following AR blogs and their williness to engage in the conversation.

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  8. Hey Carter,

    I have to give you props. Most often I find bloggers resistant to go back and make susbtantial corrections. But after doing your due diligence you did just that and I applaud you for it.

    Now if we only get analysts to do that ;-)

    Best,
    Eric

  9. Hi Eric,

    Well, frankly my first reaction was “I’m never wrong!”, but luckily I have learned a little humility since my Gartner Research Fellow days. >>grin<<

    Seriously, one of the things that irriated me to no end while being the Director of AR for a major company were analysts who got things wrong and never acknowledged nor corrected the mistakes. On the rare occasions we did get a correction, the firm would change the onlne version as quietly as possible so as not to admit error. One of the advantages of social media is being able to quickly make changes and also do in a way that makes easier for prior readers to determine what was changed. Then it is easy for readers to determine whether or not the change is material to them.

    Cheers, -carter j

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