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Getting Gartner to Play for Pay  

  • 8 min read

Being a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader is incredibly valuable. Just pay to play by subscribing to their research, complete the survey, make sure you have enough customer reviews posted on G2 and then hound the analysts into agreeing your “baby” is the prettiest, or at least not the ugliest.

By Simon Harrison
Analyst and Client Executive Partner

Simon is an industry analyst who has authored over 30 Gartner Magic Quadrant notes as lead and with colleagues. He’s written important research as the Chief of Research advisor for Gartner. He continues to provide deep research and insights as an Executive Partner for Actionary clients and the industry..

If Only It Were That Simple

Gartner is a highly regulated research machine. It is the leading analyst company in the world by measure of influence and global coverage of expertise. Subscribers of all sizes benefit from the same professional, unbiased, content, insights, and advice. There is a huge benefit to this research if leveraged properly.

There is no such thing as “pay to play” when it comes to Gartner:

  1. Subscription is not a requirement to participate in the research.
  2. A vendor can be included in a Magic Quadrant (MQ) process even if they prefer to be excluded (usually because they suspect unfavourable positioning).
  3. Gartner analysts are purposefully separated from sales. Unless an analyst goes looking for it, they won’t know how much a vendor is spending.
  4. There is a blackout period for all participating vendors, client or not, ensuring vendors cannot engage with the analysts through inquiry or strategy days on the build up to and during the MQ process.

Gartner analysts use significant data points and insights to deeply research vendors, however, the volume of end user clients asking about a vendor is a crucial deciding factor. Research is peer reviewed and challenged before being authorized to share with the world and so the credibility and reputation of a Gartner analyst is reliant on doing this job extremely well. Gartner’s trusted and hard-earned reputation globally for unbiased research is what makes strong MQ positioning so powerful and yet vendors often still decide the analyst isn’t doing the job well enough. Especially CEOs of large organizations, it seems.

We’ve seen countless presentations, demos and MQ survey responses where the vendor insists on “telling” the analyst that their technology is better than the rest – deciding to do the analyst’s job for them. We hear comments like, “the analysts just don’t like us” or “the bigger vendors are just paying more to be leaders” or “Gartner doesn’t understand us” or “the analysts are not in touch with the real market needs”.

So, how do you get Gartner to play to your needs and make it pay for you?

1) Stop Being in Love with Your Technology

  • Make it a dialogue, not a battlefield: If Gartner analysts don’t align with your perspective simply acknowledge their expertise and consider their viewpoints as valuable. If you’ve done the research and have a valid viewpoint for them to think about they will listen. But do this way before the MQ process begins. Bare in mind they’re hired to be right to begin with so the language you use and what you challenge is important.
  • Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs: Avoid trying to “brainwash” the analysts. Stating that your solution is the best doesn’t make it so. Instead, stick to evidencing how your solution aligns with the research and addresses important or emerging market needs.
  • Your customers will rat on you: Gartner’s G2 (Peer Insights) user review platform is used to get in-depth information on how you are performing; your customers will be heard. Citing CSAT or NPS statistics won’t work. Instead, emphasize to the analyst the robust scientific approach you use to ensure no customer is left behind.
  • Help the analyst recommend you: Gartner analysts assist clients in making buying decisions throughout the year. By aligning your technology with Gartner’s perspective and presenting it effectively outside of the MQ process, you aid their recommendation process as well as improve chances of a better MQ position.

2) Don’t Dismiss Important Themes

  • The hieroglyphics are important: Gartner analysts spend an enormous amount of time grappling with highly complex concepts and wrestling them into a linguistic form that allows them to explain and distil the complexity into useful insight. We get that there’re a lot of terms, but the themes really are important trends and developments in your market, it’s a language you must speak.
  • Channel your inner teacher’s pet: Gartner analyst cohorts put a ton of time, effort, and emotional energy into developing and distributing research related to these important emerging themes. It’s important to them, the research is being read. Demonstrate your awareness of the overarching themes and topics relevant to the MQ author. The effort will be worth it.

3) Get Relevant Content to the Right People

  • Fix the sharing problem, properly: Gartner seat holders get saddled with finding what’s relevant for those without. Dropping an unlicensed PDF into the inbox of a leader provides minimal value, (wrong content, not relevant, no time to read it or digest it and contextualise it for their world). So the AR leaders get staff on inquiry calls with analysts. Solve the access problem to do better in an MQ.
  • The magic trio must be in sync: The CPO, CRO and CMO must be in sync over research key themes as an essential start point. Their teams can then follow suit. Make sure these three leaders fully understand and appreciate the importance of these themes and use them to influence their strategic thinking throughout the year – not just as lip-service within the MQ submission.

4) Understand the Related Research

  • Believe in the research: Gartner analysts can always recognise when a vendor is paying lip service vs genuine belief in the research, especially at CEO level. Introduce a culture of believers from the top down and commit to realizing the potential of research. Make sure the next company all-hands features the latest research news and highlights. And why it’s important to your company.
  • Someone’s got to spin the hamster wheel: There’s an enormous corpus of research out there (we feel your pain – see The Research Dilemma). It’s too much for most people to follow. But there’s no escaping the grind to understand what’s important and what’s not; it is a significant time commitment. Interpreting it for your business is harder still. Make sure everyone gets the general themes then wheel out your chosen thought leaders to evangelise the benefits of the insights at a departmental level.
  • It’s good to talk the talk: You need to infuse research understanding across your entire MQ submission. Ensure every contributing employee can demonstrate the depth of your company’s understanding, leverage it to explain why your company is relevant now, and prove it’ll continue on that trajectory. Resonating with the analyst always pays off.

5) Demonstrate Research-Powered Action

  • Practice what they preach: We appreciate that vendors might not agree with the strategic direction that the analysts are taking 100% of the time. However, vendors who show evidence that they are acting on Gartner research do better in their MQ placement.
  • Get inside the Analyst’s head: Understand their passions, ambitions, and perspectives. Understand what drives their research, and what they are really looking for to understand the real question hidden within the question. Analysts are people who want to feel good about what they’re doing.
  • Anything useful is harder to create: There are over 2,000 Gartner analysts all writing research, and they must work hard to get it published. What you read is a marriage of client feedback, vendor action and a lot of debate and analysis. The research is unbiased, rigorously vetted and vendor-agnostic.  So put it to good use and show how you are. Not what you’re planning to do but what you’ve done already.
  • You just might learn to win: Most of the answers you need to thrive and beat your competition are in the research. Demonstrating your following doesn’t just help your MQ submission, you just might find yourself beating the market too.

Final Thoughts

So, is Gartner pay to play? Absolutely Not.

Participating in a Gartner MQ is a point in time exercise that forms part of a program of activities, it can’t be an afterthought or that one thing you try to do well each year. If you don’t have the internal resources to do so, you need to find them.

Once a Gartner analyst, always a Gartner analyst; you never escape the mindset. To get the most from Gartner and other leading research firms you must be able to play the game, not just pay to be in the game. And if you’re going to play the game Actionary can help you win.