Are you in a “contract renewal trap” when it comes to Forrester and Gartner contracts?

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgAs we work with clients on helping them manage their analyst spending, one major problem that keeps popping up is what we call the “contract renewal trap.” This occurs when the analyst contract manager (e.g., analyst relations, market research or IT manager) lets the analyst firm control the renewal process by starting with last year’s contract. The previous contract then becomes a de facto floor to build upon. It is a seductively easy trap to fall into because it appears to have minimal work involved and there is little likelihood of not renewing. Of course, this trap benefits the analyst firms immensely. 

The contract renewal trap is likely costing the average vendor or end-user client of the analyst firms tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of unnecessary spending every year.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Contract managers, whether end user or vendor, need to determine if they are in a contract renewal trap
  • Contract managers need to take a “sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger” mentality and approach renewals as if Forrester and Gartner might not get any contract
  • Contract managers need to seize control not cede control to Continue reading

NCVI are the four most important letters in the English alphabet for a Gartner sales rep

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgKnowledge is power when it comes to purchasing decisions about analyst firm contracts. Unfortunately, too many contract managers do not understand many of the underlying behavioral drivers when it comes to dealing with Gartner sales representatives, which puts those managers at a disadvantage. 

For instance, an important piece of information is that Gartner reps are measured on NCVI, net contract value increase. NCVI is calculated based only on the total syndicated research revenues, seats, and clusters. Other purchases such as event sponsorships, consulting or SAS are not included in the calculation.

Gartner sales reps that achieve NCVI are golden. Those reps whose client contracts are less than the prior year’s amount are in danger of termination. That is why Gartner sales reps start getting desperate when it looks like contract renewals are going to be less than the previous contract.

It is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with Gartner without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to negotiate a better discount from the sales rep, which is quite difficult because of the pricing discipline mandated by Gartner’s CEO. Rather it takes intelligence about Gartner’s business and sales practices to know what Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Forrester layoffs in Europe – round 2 or round 1 continued?

SageCircle has received credible intelligence from AR professionals on both sides of the Atlantic that  Forrester Research  initiated a job action resulting in analyst lay offs. We will continue to provide updates as we learn new information.

  • Update – 2/18/09 6:53 am PT – Initial post. Sent request for confirmation to Forrester’s press office
  • Update – 2/19/09 7:12 am PT – Two analysts added to list

Analysis

These layoffs could simply be a continuation of the layoffs that we identified on February 9th (see Forrester experiences analyst layoffs). Because European countries have different labor laws than the US, job actions there frequently lag what happens in the US. On the other hand, these layoffs could be a start of a round two because management has determined even after a few days that the original layoffs were insufficient. While Forrester has over $240m in cash and marketable securities (see Forrester Research Q4 and FY08 earnings – 2008 revenues up, 2009 guidance down)  and can obviously weather even a severe recession, that does not mean it should not  Continue reading

AR & Recession – AR needs to help Sales deal with analysts’ cost cutting advice

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAt SageCircle we keep our eye on all aspects of the analyst ecosystem. This includes other bloggers with opinions about the analysts. In a very uninformed blog post, Irrelevance doesn’t pay, analystsanalyst said that analysts should “… start telling people how to save money and jobs, NOW.” What a nonsensical statement. Does analystsananlyst not know that helping their end-user clients save money is the bread-and-butter advice for Gartner and Forrester (and META and Giga before they were acquired)? Has analystsanalyst not looked at Gartner’s IT and the Economy theme webpage, which is about gathering all the research on cost optimization? Did analystsanalysts not follow SageCircle’s lead and listen to Gartner’s February 5th earnings call where CEO Gene Hall mentioned 

“… In consulting, fourth quarter results were stronger than expected and this was driven by robust demand for our contract optimization and benchmarking services. These unique services directly help our clients lower costs and their outperformance continued the positive trends from the second and third quarters. …”

Obviously, analystsanalyst has never been an effective end-client of Gartner or Forrester, because s/he would have received cost cutting, job saving advice over the last quarter century in good economic times or bad. Obviously, analystsanalyst has never been in a technology vendor’s AR or sales department (like SageCircle’s clients) and had to struggle with fixing a sales situation where an analyst has given a prospect totally unrealistic discount advice.

Geez.

Ok, enough venting. (The preceding rant represents the personal opinion of the commentator and does not necessarily represent the opinion of SageCircle, its clients or sponsors. Now back to our regulat AR best practices discussion.)

The above rant is quite serious in that every AR manager should be very aware that advisory analysts, especially Gartner, are constantly giving advice to vendor’s prospects on cost cutting. This “cost optimization” advice is especially impactful during Continue reading

Should vendors be investing in analyst conference sponsorships in 2009?

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt their Q4 and full year 2008 earnings calls, both Gartner (2/5/09) and Forrester (2/11/09) commented on how the recession is impacting enterprise end user attendance at their events. Example statements:

Gartner CEO Gene Hall “As discussed on our last earnings call that business has been impacted by corporate travel restrictions which have made it more difficult for our clients to attend our events.”

 Forrester COO Charles Rutstein “As you might expect, the events business has been softer than it has been historically. That’s largely tied to people’s travel budgets being down.”

 Both Forrester and Gartner projected Event revenue declines for 2009 due to both decreased attendee ticket sales and lack of vendor sponsorships.

So that brings up an important question for IT and telecommunications vendors:

            Should you be sponsoring analyst events in 2009?

If the analyst firms are expecting fewer attendees – i.e., potential prospects – why should vendors waste money sponsoring an event? Remember the fee to the analyst firm is only part of the overall event cost to you and often not even a large percentage. Significant resources (e.g., labor bandwidth and budget) are spent on preparing booth displays, staffing the event, special side events like receptions, and so on.

Some vendors may automatically sign up just because they have always sponsored a particular event.  Others may not take advantage of a potentially useful sponsorship because 2009 is a year of cut backs.  A better approach is for vendors to seriously evaluate the pros and cons of sponsorships in 2009. For example, having a higher profile at an event because your competitors declined to sponsor could more than offset the lower attendance by IT managers. In this case, the opportunity is more of a quality than quantity play. On the other hand, if the analyst firm is only keeping the event on the schedule because the cancellation fees would be so high then the vendor has to seriously consider whether there will be even a minimal number of attendees.

One important point to keep in mind is that vendors should not worry that lack of sponsorship will hurt the relationship with Continue reading

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