Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.
Because of this influence on short lists, communications and IT vendor executives sometimes obsess over the “MQ” for their markets and put great pressure on their AR teams to get placement on MQs they are not on. This can actually be a counterproductive move because vendors who really should not be on a MQ will get stuck in the lower left hand corner (click on graphic to enlarge). Even thought this part of the MQ is labeled “Niche,” too many IT buyers translate that label into “Loser.” Getting perceived as a “Loser” can put a vendor’s sales at a disadvantage in trying to get into an opportunity because it is so much more difficult to explain away why you are not a “Loser.” than explaining why your company was not included on a version of a MQ.
Some Gartner analysts publicly admit that this mental relabeling occurs and try to mitigate the perception in print, in speeches at Gartner events, and during phone-based inquiry. Here are some examples of analysts trying to ensure that niche vendors are not overlooked:
(Archive) Panning for Gold in the DBMS Market / 5 January 1999 / M-06-6399 / Betsy Burton
(Archive) Panning for Gold in the Niche Vendor Quadrant / 6 August 2001 / T-14-1971 / Jess Thompson
Revisited by the same analyst as “‘Panning for Gold’ Outside the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant” / 5 September 2007 / G00151234
(Archive) Global Campus LAN for 2H02 — The Fighting Niche Players / 4 November 2002 / M-18-1643 / Mark Fabbi
I especially like the title of Mark’s research note because it shows a little love for those scrappy underdog vendors – some of whom are actually major vendors in adjacent markets.
Analysts also attempt to look out for vendors’ best interests by trying to convince vendors that they should not insist on being included on ill-suited MQs. When confronted with some vendors that simply will not take “no” for an answer, some analysts will shrug and put the vendor on the MQ… in the lower left corner. Now the vendor is a “Loser.”
Rather than fight with an analyst trying to get on MQs that they are not suited for, vendors should take a strategic approach so that their eventual position upon entry will be favorable. At the same time, AR teams should equip with their sales forces with the tools needed to explain why the vendor is a no show on a MQ.
- Conduct one or more inquiries (if you are a client) with the Gartner analyst to grok the MQ criteria and the analyst’s perception how you match up with the criteria
- Partner with analysts to make the case to your executives that exclusion from the next version of the MQ is in the company’s best interest
- Analyze the criteria to determine whether your company has a realistic chance of achieving favorable placement in a future MQ
- Analyze the criteria to decide if a campaign has to be executed to modify certain criteria that if not changed would continue to exclude you from future MQs
- Evaluate whether there is an equivalent Forrester Wave and if you could achieve favorable placement with less effort than the MQ. If so, switch your focus from the MQ to the Wave
- Work to equip Sales with talking points and potential counterbalancing research (e.g., a Wave) to help them mitigate any downside from not being on a MQ
Bottom Line: Vendors should not ignore, but also not obsess over, Gartner Magic Quadrants. However, vendors need to take to take into account how IT buyers really think about each box on the MQ and not force their way onto MQs where placement would not be favorable. Instead, vendors should take the long view and think strategically about how and where they will get added onto a future version of the MQ.
Question: AR teams – What are the arguments executives make that the company absolutely has to be on a Magic Quadrant?
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Filed under: AR best practices, AR management, Magic Quadrant Tagged: | analyst relations, AR, Forrester, Gartner, Hype Cycle, industry analysts, IT analysts, market researchers, signature research, Wave