• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    Is this how the Quadrant lost its Magic?

    Is this how the Quadrant lost its Magic?

    Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is the most influential non-financial business research document. In the late 1980s, it was a quick and dirty stalking horse to provoke discussions. Today it is an extensive and yet highly limited process, based on the quantification of opinions which are highly qualitative. The early evolution of the MQ tells us a lot about the challenge of industry […]

    Saying farewell to David Bradshaw

    Saying farewell to David Bradshaw

    A funeral and celebration for David Bradshaw (shown left in this 2000 Ovum awayday photo, arm raised, with me and other colleagues) is to take place at West Norwood Crematorium, London SE27 at 2.45pm on Tuesday 23rd August and after at the Amba Hotel above London’s Charing Cross Station, on the Strand. David considered that that Ovum in that incarnation was […]

    David Bradshaw 1953-2016

    David Bradshaw 1953-2016

    David Bradshaw, one of the colleagues I worked with during my time as an analyst at Ovum, died on August 11. He led Cloud research in Europe for IDC, whose statement is below. David played a unique role at Ovum, bridging its telecoms and IT groups in the late 1990s by looking at computer-telecoms integration areas like CRM, which I […]

    AR managers are failing with consulting firms

    AR managers are failing with consulting firms

    Reflecting the paradoxical position of many clients, Kea’s Analyst Attitude Survey also goes to a wide range of consultants who play similar roles to analysts and are often employed by analyst firms. The responses to the current survey show that consultants are generally much less happy with their relationships with AR teams than analysts are. The paradox is that as […]

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Some of the firms mentioned by the IIAR’s analyst team awards fall short of excellence. That’s the verdict of several hundred analysts who took our Analyst Attitude Survey, and of the CEO of one of the top analyst firms. Phil Fersht left the comment below on our criticism of the IIAR awards. We thought we’d reprint it together with the […]

AR & recession – Reconsidering analyst contract priorities

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgControlling spending is a high priority for most vendors during a recession. For analyst relations (AR) teams this mandate causes angst because it means cutting spending with analyst firms, usually a big part of AR’s budget. Discussing this issue has become an increasingly common inquiry for SageCircle strategists as clients work through budget cutting scenarios. 

One of the main sources of anxiety is the perception that analysts will start bad mouthing the vendor to prospects, making negative comments in the press, and cutting off AR’s ability to brief the analysts. This is usually an overblown concern as reputable firms will not damage their standing with vendors – a significant source of information and market insights – over short term contract spending changes. Analysts at the largest firms often do not know the size of a vendor’s contract with the firm and will not notice if the vendor cuts the contract by some percentage.

Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do resort to threats and making overtly negative comments about vendors in the press as pressure tactics to get contracts. Typically these individuals are single practitioners or in boutiques that derive all their revenues from a small number of vendors.  For these firma any cuts by an existing client are keenly felt. However, AR has to investigate whether these individuals truly have relevant opportunities to influence vendor sales deals. If not, then AR should plan on educating executives that these squeaky wheels, no matter how annoying, do not deserve contracts nor AR and spokesperson bandwidth to quiet them during a recession.

It is important to point out that contract cuts should not fall entirely on boutique firms as they can have as much or more influence on revenues than behemoths like Gartner and Forrester. It really depends on the market and relevance of the analysts. That is why we always recommend ranking individual analysts and not assigning a “tier” status to firms as a whole.

When reconsidering spending with analyst firms, AR should use SageCircle’s purchasing best practices (see below for a list). What changes will be the priorities and the number of firms under contract. AR needs to ruthlessly focus on those firms and services that directly support AR’s refocused priorities and activities. Often this means putting more emphasis on advisory firms that have significant end-user client bases that make IT purchasing decisions. The big losers will be market research firms, especially those that provide market share numbers with minimal useful strategic analysis. In a recession, managers are focused on selling so market share numbers are seen as “nice to have.”

SageCircle Technique:

  • Review your list of analyst contracts against revised priorities
  • Consider every contract coming up for renewal, even ones for Gartner and Forrester, as candidates for elimination
  • Focus renewals and incremental spending on those analysts and services that support your revised priorities
  • Ruthlessly reallocate money from one analyst firm to another
  • Do not be afraid to tell analysts about reduced spending. However indicate that this is not a reflection on the analyst but a response to reduced spending throughout the vendor
  • Do not go dark – continue and even increase outbound interactions (e.g., briefings and emails with information and insights) especially with analysts on the receiving end of reduced spending

Online SageContentTM Library clients can find additional depth of discussion about purchasing best practices and tools for downloading by searching for “Contracts – Table of Contents.” Advisory clients can get the same information via inquiry. In addition, Advisory clients are encouraged to schedule an inquiry to review individual analyst contracts up for renewal and overall spending. If you are not a client, you can get a free inquiry to discuss your analyst spending priorities as a thank-you for participating in an Analyst Relations DiagnosticTM.

Bottom Line: During a recession, vendor executives are primarily concerned with cutting costs and driving revenues. Because analyst contracts are often a big part of AR’s budget, AR needs to align its spending with analysts to ensure that it is contributing to AR’s efforts to drive sales and collect performance data. This will require hard decisions, but will contribute to AR’s survival in a recession. It is important that AR continue to brief analysts at firms that received smaller or no contracts than previously.

Question: How are you working and spending differently in this recession?

SageCircle has published or will be publishing a series of posts addressing a variety of recession-oriented topics

How AR needs to work differently in a recession:

How AR needs to spend differently in a recession:

Purchasing analyst services best practices are more critical in a recession:

  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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