Managing Your Gartner and Forrester Expenditures – A SageCircle Webinar

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgThe largest analyst contract commitments by enterprises, vendors and PR agencies often go to the Big Two advisory analyst firms: Forrester Research and Gartner. Unfortunately even during this recession, the two firms are not displaying any flexibility in contract negotiations – even though vendor clients are experiencing budget cuts.

To help analyst contract managers (e.g., AR, market research and procurement managers) take a strategic approach to dealing with the need to manage spending with Forrester and Gartner, SageCircle has a public webinar focused on providing the tools and intelligence needed to make the best decisions and deal with the firms’ sales representatives. 

In this SageCircle Webinar we provide insights and actionable advice on how to manage what you spend with Forrester and Gartner to ensure that you have the access you need without spending more than necessary. Key Issues to be addressed in this webinar include:

  • Is it possible to negotiate discounts with Forrester and Gartner?
  • What are the best practices for identifying expenditures that can be safely cut?
  • What are the repercussions with analysts at the Big Two if contracts are cut or even eliminated?
  • What are the best practices for handling angry and even threatening analyst firm sales representatives?

In this SageCircle Webinar, our strategists will provide a succinct analysis of why the Big Two are not being flexible and how vendors need to respond. Participants will come out of the webinar with best practices and tools that will help them manage their expenditures without adversely impacting their ability to Continue reading

Analyst Relations budget – Use it, don’t lose it

It’s now July 22nd, about half way through the third calendar quarter. Many communications and IT vendors have budget policies in place where departments lose any budget that is not spent within a particular fiscal quarter or calendar year. AR managers frequently find it difficult to find a good use for remaining budget, especially when it might only be a few thousand dollars. Are you kicking yourself because you had had left over budget at the end of the last quarter that you did not use? In addition, you don’t want to blow any remaining budget on something that might not be used to its fullest extent, like a reprint of a so-so research note or a Gartner Advisory seat for someone who probably won’t do inquiries.

An excellent use of remaining budget is AR staff development because it increases efficiency and effectiveness, boosts staff morale and adds variety to the job. Staff development  is even more important during a recession when bonuses are meager and pay raises are not likely.

To make it easy for AR managers to spend odd amounts of end-of-the-quarter budget, SageCircle offers its services à la carte as well as by annual subscription. We have many services under $1,000 such as webinars ($95), Online SageContent Library ($395), AR briefings ($495), workshops ($495) and advisory blocks (2 hours $495, 5 hours $995) and seminars ($995).

Another advantage of SageCircle AR training offerings is that many are 90 minutes or less, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule or a regular staff call. Oh, did I mention that you can conveniently buy any SageCircle service via credit card to ensure you get it into this quarter’s purchases? We will also work around the clock to complete any paperwork you need for traditional purchase order/invoice.

Here are three examples of how you can mix-and-match SageCircle training services to meet various needs:

AR continuing education – This example assumes an experienced AR staff located in one office. The first two items are free, which of course is a great price. Using the AR DiagnosticTM as a continuing education tool is atypical, but the questions asked Continue reading

How much to spend on analyst contracts [AR practitioner question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgInquiry: SageCircle received the following inquiry via e-mail: “Is our use/cost of the major analyst firms at about industry standard or better – especially as it relates to analyst contracts?”

“Are we spending the right amount on analyst contracts?” is a common question that SageCircle receives. This is one of a group of “standards” or “benchmarks” inquiries (see The Size of the AR Team [AR practitioner question]) that many AR managers wrestle with, often in response to their management’s demands for justification for budgets. While clients want us to provide a simple rule-of-thumb for analyst contracts (e.g., as a percentage of vendor revenue), we cannot provide it. Through our research, we have discovered that comparable vendors (in terms of markets, total revenues and number of employees) can have dramatically different analyst contract requirements.

The more important questions that need to be answered are: “Are the contracts providing us the services we need to reach our defined goals?  Are we managing the contracts to get full value? 

For end users clients, usually IT managers at large enterprises, the answers are much more clear cut. Even though enterprises use analysts for a variety of purposes (see Why technology buyers use the IT industry analysts), these purposes basically fall into either strategic and tactical decision support. Thus, spending can be focused on active topics and activities, especially where internal expertise is not available.

How much IT and telecommunications vendors spend on analyst contracts is dependent on a variety of factors. In this SageCircle blog post, we will focus on identifying the factors.

Breadth of usage – How many different functions in the company will analyst research and advice be supporting? The broader the usage, the more Continue reading

Managing the AR budget in a recession

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgWith all the turmoil in the economic scene, we have been getting inquiries about how to manage the analyst relations (AR) budget in a recession. This post is a roundup of content we have published on the SageCircle blog on the topics of budgets and spending. 

This content is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full set of intellectual property SageCircle has generated on these topics. There is more written research and SageToolsTM in the Online SageContentTM Library. There is also an AR Team Briefing on managing budgets in a recession. Finally we recommend that Advisory clients, either Blocks of Advisory Hours or Annual Advisory, schedule inquiries to discuss the budget implications of the economic uncertainty.

Purchasing Analyst Services, a six-part series:

  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 Continue reading

Why it is a really bad idea to cut AR, even in a recession

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt is common for tech vendors to cut marketing spend in a recession. Because Industry Analyst Relations (AR) is typically in the marketing department, AR is often asked to shoulder part of the cost cutting burden by cutting spending, freezing hiring, or even cutting head count. As a consequence, AR often cuts back on the total number of interactions it conducts with key analysts. This can be short sighted for a variety of reasons:

  • Analysts interact with many communities on a daily basis – As we pointed out in involving the analysts early and often, analysts do a significant number of touches each and every day with IT buyers, reporters, financial analysts and others. Providing analysts with a continual stream of information about your company, customer stories, and so on ensures that the analysts will properly position you with IT buyers, press, investors, et cetera.
  • Top-of-mind presence is ephemeral – Because the analysts have so many interactions and gather so many data points, it is easy for a vendor to get pushed lower in the analysts’ consciousness unless Continue reading

Notes on managing your budget in a recession — SageCircle’s Coffee Talk

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgOn Tuesday April 1 SageCircle conducted a web-based Coffee Talk around the potential impacts of budget cuts and how AR teams can best handle them.  We began with a few slides to review the techniques for managing a budget and then opened the session to questions from the participants.

Often when resources are trimmed certain areas experience across-the-board and significant cuts.  While some of these areas can be quick to recover in the future analyst relations is generally not one of them.  Developing relationships that can truly provide a positive revenue impact takes sustained effort over time.  Once your program begins to slip the effort required to Continue reading

Budget cutting part two — Alternate solutions for analyst contracts

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgLast week (see Budgeting cutting can help AR focus and innovate) we suggested that potential budget cuts may have the effect of causing AR teams to prioritize and innovate in their programs and might not always be as negative as when first viewed.  Another way to deal with the possible cuts in funding that follow any economic slowing is to look to alternative solutions.  These techniques obviously take precious time and effort that AR teams also don’t have, but may be reasonable choices when money is not available.

Analyst seat holder contracts

Review each analyst contract for usage and determine business group seat holders who need to be eliminated.  Then contact the high value and high usage seat holders to see if the business group can pick up some or all of the cost.  Be prepared to justify the cost as the business group Continue reading

Budget cutting can help AR focus and innovate

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt is a fact of life that because of the reports of economic slowing, marketing departments at communications and IT vendors are considering budget cuts. Because most analyst relations teams report to marketing, there will be trickle down cuts hitting AR as well. Unfortunately, most AR functions are already short of staff and funding resources so the natural reaction is to perceive that budget cuts are only bad. However, if AR managers use the budget cutting as an opportunity to rethink how they do business the cutting exercise can have at least some positive outcomes.

Any business function can accumulate outdated expenses, activities and techniques like barnacles on a ship. An example can be always buying 20 advisory seats during the annual analyst services contract renewal even though only 14 are really being actively used. Another example is spending too much money on analyst events by selecting fancy destination hotels when analysts would prefer a more convenient and often cheaper location. Yet another example is buying expo floor booth space at firm conferences because “everybody knows” that they are great sources of leads when no investigation of lead generation effectiveness has been done for years, if ever.

Besides eliminating unnecessary spending, a budget cutting exercise can also surface innovative approaches to accomplish tasks that actually might be more effective done in some other way. An example here is substituting “Deep Dives” for the annual Continue reading

Christmas leftovers that are better than fruitcake

As a helpful public service, here some ideas for consuming any leftover 2007 budgets:
  Continue reading

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