Gartner Consulting could be lurking in the background of active sales opportunities

icon-dollar-euro.jpgIn last week’s Gartner Q4 and FY08 earnings call there was a very interesting point that CEO Gene Hall made:

“… 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. …”

This statement should make IT and telecommunications vendors sit up and take notice. Gartner’s Cost Optimization Services consultants could be working on enterprise IT purchasing projects that directly impact sales opportunities – and not always positively for any particular vendor. 

Unfortunately for vendors, the information you give to a Gartner analyst does not always flow over to their consulting colleagues. Thus, the Gartner consultant could be relying on published research notes, which only tell part of the story and have none of the nuance or most current vendor information that is inside the analyst’s head. As a consequence, uninformed consultants might be leaving vendors off a vendor bid list or short changing their capabilities.

It is important that vendor sales representatives determine when Gartner Consulting is part of an IT organization’s procurement team for a project. While the end user might mention that Continue reading

Tool for Sales – The Prospect Profile Form

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThe analysts possess a wealth of information that can help vendor sales organizations better understand their prospects. The question is how to get the information from the analysts. SageCircle has put together a simple process and checklist that AR can use to conduct a structured inquiry with key analysts to collect and organize important information about your prospects. The process is simple. Schedule an inquiry with one or two of your Tier 1 analysts (with whom you have Inquiry privileges). Use the questions on the Prospect Profile checklist to gather information from the analyst and enter the responses into the form. After finishing the inquiry, complete the form and forward it to sales.

There are two main categories of input that you are looking for: “Analyst’s Perceptions about the Prospect or its Peer Group” and “Analyst’s Perceptions about Your Differentiation in this Situation.” Within each main category there are sub questions like market, prospect and business challenges. 

Besides obtaining valuable information and insights for your sales teams, using this technique is also a great way to improve your relationships with key analysts. As we mentioned Continue reading

If analysts do not get their impact, do your executives?

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAwhile back, I heard an interesting comment from a former advisory analyst who is now the director of AR at a software company. She said that when she was an analyst it was her opinion that vendors were crazy to think that analysts have a large impact on sales. However, now that she is at a vendor, she is experiencing first-hand the dramatic impact the analysts have on vendor sales opportunities.

This got me thinking that if analysts do not understand or appreciate their impact on vendor sales, do vendor executives really understand how the analysts have their fingerprints all over corporate sales opportunities? The reality is that many executives do not fully comprehend the true impact of the analysts on revenues. Thus, they are less likely to support AR by making time to meet and speak with analysts. 

SageCircle Technique:

Ask your customers about their use of the analysts when they are guest speakers at the annual sales kickoff

icon-dollar-euro.jpgFrequently vendors will have customers participate in their annual sales kick off meetings in a panel or interview format. These are great opportunities to ask the customers how they use the analysts. Sometimes the customer will say something that will provide sales reps – and your executives – with an “ah ha!” moment like here.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Inquire with the team putting together the agenda for the annual sales kickoff to identify customer speaking sessions
  • Talk to the sales representatives whose customers are guest speakers about the customers’ known utilization of the analysts,
  • Gather the customer’s perception of the analysts, firms used, impact on Continue reading

Why AR Matters – Analysts can get your company on short lists that you were excluded from

icon-dollar-euro.jpgMost analyst relations (AR) professionals are in an environment where they have to continually justify the relevance of the industry analysts and AR. One of the best arguments for justifying the investment in AR is the impact analysts have on the company’s sales opportunities. Usually the easiest to find examples are negative, such as when an analyst’s commentary has caused a vendor to be removed or excluded from a short list, because a sales rep will be howling in anger. However, with some investigation AR can turn up positive impacts of the analysts, e.g., when an analyst has been your advocate by getting your company onto a short list.

In Reality Check: Sales reps matter more than product on the Software Insider blog, former Forrester analyst and current VP of Research at SSPA John Ragsdale illustrates how an analyst with a simple question can help a vendor get placement on a vendor short list. 

“…Over the last year I have become increasingly aware of something and wanted to share it with a larger audience. When I have conversations with companies about a pending software purchase (usually CRM or eService), they tell me the core business problems they are trying to solve, then give me the list of vendors they are considering. And almost every time, I hear a little jingle from Sesame Street in my head:

     “One of these things is not like the other
     One of these things just doesn’t belong
     Can you guess which thing is not like the other
     By the time I finish this song?

“Why? Because the obvious vendor(s) who are specialists in their problem are not on the list, and they are selecting from a group of vendors who all do something else. So I ask, “Um, why isn’t Vendor X on the list?” And here is the universal reply. ‘Oh, we started with them, but Continue reading

Why analysts matter – “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Some analyst relations (AR) managers are lucky in that their executives really get the analysts and their impact on the vendor’s leads and sales deals. Alas, not all AR professionals are so lucky. However, there is a resource to use to educate* executives about the impact of the analysts – the analysts’ own words. For example, here is a throwaway line by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang in Starting the Forrester Wave: White Label Social Networks and Community Platforms:

          “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Jeremiah is very good about keeping vendors and end-user clients alike up-to-date on what he is working on via his blog posts. This particular line was not bragging, but explaining one purpose of the Forrester Wave, which is to help technology buyers develop their short list of vendors to invite to a bid. Because it was not the main purpose of the post, I think that makes it even more powerful education tool as it Continue reading

Equipping Sales for the MQ Effect: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 7]

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant can have a powerful impact on IT vendor sales cycles – anointing some vendors as a prime candidate for a sales opportunity while denying other vendors even a chance to bid. In order to exploit positive placement on a Magic Quadrant and mitigate negative placement, vendor sales executives need to work with AR to prepare and train their sales teams on certain basics about the Magic Quadrant.

To a large extent the Magic Quadrant is just another form of analyst research that can sales reps have to take into account when working with customers and prospects. However, the MQ does have some unique aspects that have to be addressed including: 

  • Multiple MQs – A vendor can be on any number of MQs, which increases the chances that a prospect will be using wrong research
  • Out-of-date MQs – Earlier versions of a MQ can be available for a long time, which can put a vendor with an improved position at a disadvantage
  • Four boxes, four responses – How a sales responds to or uses a MQ is different depending Continue reading
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