Thursday, 30 March 2006

Gartner Sales policing vendor interactions with analysts

Reports are coming in around the industry that Gartner Sales staffers are sitting in on many more inquiries, briefings, SAS pre-calls and other interactions than in the recent past. The Gartner Sales reps are being very aggressive about suppressing dialogue if it looks like the analysts are about to give the vendor attendees any advice or make observations if non-Advisor seat holders are on the call or in the meeting. It does not matter if the analyst wants to provide insights or the vendor is asking for the opinion, the Gartner Sales rep steps in and squashes the conversation.

With Gartner Sales playing such a prominent role during vendor-analyst interactions, Gartner is seriously undermining its position that vendors do not have to pay-to-play.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So that explains why all inquiries have to be on the Gartner bridge now....so the police dogs can be present.

Anonymous said...

You're nuts. Why should Gartner analysts give their advice to non-payers. That's the business model. They are listening to the vendors who have a tendency to think they can buy influence. This reinforces it, doesn't?

Anonymous said...

What I meant in the above is that having sales cut off discussion when the analysts start giving advice reinforces the business model. Gartner offers advice for sale.

Phil Payne said...

In the early 1990s I went into the office of the Marketing VP at a mainframe PCM in Europe. On his whiteboard were four columns, each headed by the name of an analyst company. The rows were payments in fiscal quarters. Immediately under the names he'd written:

Blackmail Blackmail Blackmail Plausible Deniability.

bitblue said...

As so often, SVG, you don't have your facts right.

1. I can't speak for all of the analysts, of course, but I have zero sales people sitting in on inquiries with existing clients. The only exception may be when a vendor client wants to discuss a speaking engagement, and then I want sales on the call to do the follow up and handle the commercials, since I have nothing to do with that.

2. You're mixing inquiries, briefings, and sales calls. They are not the same, but maybe you don't know that. Particularly in briefings with non-client vendors, I am naturally more restrictive with my advice, compared to existing clients. Why would anybody give out free advice? Isn't that where everybody thinks they can use Google for? In any case, I always (!) leave something on the table, so the non-client (who is also a prospect) gets some take-away from the call.

3. Sales has never suppressed any dialog or squashed a conversation in any call of mine. And they better don't start it either.

4. Vendors do not have to pay to play. Period. But we are playing a different game if there is a payment. I think it makes sense, because that's our ... wait, uh ... business.

Anonymous said...

Let's be frank - the Gartner model is broken and has been for some time. Think of it this way - the Gartner analyst are supposed to be giving unbiased advice to buyers.
Why the F should vendors build AR department and spend millions on subscriptions, dinners and 'events' if it were not to influence the analysts?
You can scream as much as you want - but that is how it works. You buy influence always have - and anyone who thinks otherwise is naive.
Scenario A: Mid Tier vendor cancels subscription to Gartner. One year later their competitors have moved ahead of them in the MQ.
This happens every day and has done for years. There may be no written policy, and some Gartner analyst may be thick enough to think that their firm is on a high pedestal - but anyone who has bought their services from the vendor side knows exactly how this all works..

Anonymous said...

I work at a large vendor and checked with my colleagues about this issue. It does appear that some Gartner reps are sitting in on briefings and inquiries to police the contract. However, some of the appearances are what appears to be a simple exercise in learning more about their clients.

One negative is that when the sales rep does do some policing when my execs are the line, my execs react very negatively. For them it ties the analysts to sales. I've even had an exec say to me after the call "Are we paying Gartner enough to get good coverage?"

Silicon Valley Guy said...

Thanks for the comments.

I was not suggesting that Gartner give away its services for free. In other posts I support the right of Gartner to limit or expand access to its analysts, how it packages and what it charges for those services.

What I am concerned about is "how" it restricts access to the analysts, by using sales reps. Using sales reps to police contracts, especially during briefings, creates a perception that vendors must pay Gartner in order to brief the analysts and get regular and positive research coverage (see the previous comment as an example).

What Gartner should do is to train analysts to politely decline to provide advice or insights on briefings when non-Advisor seat holders are participating. That way there is less of a direct link between briefing the analysts and paying Gartner money.

bitblue said...

>> What Gartner should do is to train analysts to politely decline to provide advice or insights on briefings when non-Advisor seat holders are participating. <<

Yeah, that's gonna work. Must be like this:

On the call are client Jane (advisor-seat holder), Joe (non-advisor seat holder), Judy (AR), Bob (analyst).

Jane: "We had a great quarter. 10 new customers. Product version 5.5 released. Roadmap. Yada Yada..."

Bob: "That's great. Thanks for the briefing, Jane. You should also consider doing ... wait... uh, Joe, you there?"

Joe: "Yeah."

Bob: "I have some great advice, but unfortunately you don't have an advisor seat. So would you please leave the room, hang up, or otherwise cover your ears?"

Joe: "Sure."