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Briefing policy: No Free Feedback makes sense for Gartner

I planned to stop going on and on and on about Gartner. I really did. Anyone would think i have a Big Daddy fixation. But I obviously had to comment on Gartner’s new policy on vendor briefings.
 
Its a good policy, actually. It makes everything clear.
 
You brief us in 30, then the meter is running.
 
You could argue such a policy is a barrier to entry, which will benefit Gartner competitors.
 
I think I will just argue the approach has a lot in its favour. We won’t be following suit; an hour is pretty good for a briefing and allows for some give and take at the end. Every RedMonk interaction should provide at least one key insight with the other party-that’s one of our policies on briefings.
 
But of course, some AR people take advantage of our willingness to have a conversation, rather than sitting there like drones. That is the problem the Gartner approach solves.
 
I can’t tell you how many times we start a call with someone we dont know and the first thing they say is: Of Course We Really Want Your Feedback on Our Positioning.
 
Did you budget for that?
 
I have worked extremely closely with one client for five years now. The people on its AR team know very well that every briefing with RedMonk brings real value. Yet some people on the team still try and pitch mini-consultations as briefings. “No no its just a briefing…
 
But we really want your feedback and advice.”
 
Or the good old – “we sent over the deck for you to look at before the briefing”.
 
So let me get this straight – do you want me to do prep work or not? If it includes prep work, you know what-its not a briefing.
 
Some of these issues are side effects of having large clients with account managers whose job it is to try and get more free stuff from suppliers. I am not about to complain about working for Fortune 500 companies.
 
I certainly prefer the client squeeze situation to when industry giants aren’t clients, and try the same thing…
 
Note to AR people: If it is a briefing dont begin by saying its a session to gain feedback for next’s week’s launch. [I would say advise your client not to say use that introduction either. Make sure the client knows what analysts do before the call]
 
Its easy to take advantage of me. I can’t shut up. If I see a tweak I think is necessary I am going to call it. That is just the way I am, and now its part of the way RedMonk is. Cote is currently learning about the balance points between what we give away, and what we try and charge for. He naturally errs on the side of show me the money, which is good. Cote understands we need to Take Care of Business (TCB).
 
Its an inexact science.
 
You could argue the new Gartner policy is a good example of making vendor analyst briefings more scientific, by introducing a useful constraint into the system. If vendors focused more on cutting the fat from briefing presentations before we started, the decks would be compelling, and they would get more feedback.
 
If 37Signals was an analyst firm, they would probably introduce a 30 minute rule. Constraints lead to better outcomes.
 
Big vendors often find it hard to hold back, and work within constraints – they are used to having too many resources in hand. I certainly don’t mind helping vendors focus down on what they do, improving their narratives and focus, helping to tell stories that will appeal to different constituences. After all, message-testing is a service RedMonk is happy to charge for.
 
So in summary, I believe that for Gartner the policy makes a great deal of sense.
 
And, if all vendors go through a fitness exercise before briefing Gartner, it could benefit everyone. After all- if you can brief an independent in 35 minutes, that gives more time for the most useful service an analyst can provide – feedback. Just don’t introduce it that way… ;-)
 
The policy might even drive extra money to the indies, which I can’t complain about.
 
“Hey we need help narrowing our focus for our next Gartner briefing…”
 
That almost sounds like a new RedMonk service.. ;-) Certainly I would expect AR and PR agencies to be in on the game.
 
One final advantage for Gartner – people can’t accuse them of charging for briefings if the first 30 minutes is free.
 
 

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8 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link :-)

    While we wrote that this could be beneficial to vendors by forcing them into some discipline, we nevertheless agree with Dan -this would work for silo’ed analysts (and who’s more silo’ed than the Borg?).

  2. Thanks for the link :-)

    While we wrote that this could be beneficial to vendors by forcing them into some discipline, we nevertheless agree with Dan -this would work for silo’ed analysts (and who’s more silo’ed than the Borg?).

    Ultimately, who should vendors turn to for advice? Independent analysts are the obvious choice :-)

  3. so i was in an all day analyst briefing yesterday, as well as planning for partnerworld. we decided it was hard to say a proper hello and what we were going to talk about in 30 min. either the analyst interupts with questions, or we’re just getting into the meat of it at the 30 min mark. your mainframe comment will prove to be true.

  4. Do we get to limit Gartner’s in-briefing questions to 30 seconds then?

  5. Allrighty, but can we also agree that analysts not spend half the briefing trying to sell their services? You, James, are not guilty of this sin but plenty of other analysts are.

    take a guessFebruary 28, 2006 @ 7:25 pmReply
  6. Ah! A can of worms worth opening and poking about in, at least for a while…

    James doesn’t make clear whether enforcement of Gartner’s policy is left up to individual analysts, or if every briefing teleconference bridge just shuts down after minute 30. I also wonder if this policy applies equally to vendors that already pay Gartner boatloads of money and/or to those who seem likely to do so, or only to those emerging vendors least likely to be able to justify the cost AND to have honed their message to an effective 30-minute version.

    Matters not. In the real world outside of Gartner, analysts try to sell services to keep their employers in business and/or because they have revenue targets, just as their counterparts in “official” sales departments do. And vendors often take longer than 30 minutes to tell their stories because the stories are complex and/or the vendor reps just are better at reading bloated PowerPoint decks than they are at extemporaneous, focused interaction.

    More power to Gartner if they find this rule uniformly enforceable. And more power to the indie analyst firms if they find ways to generate revenues helping vendors prep for 30-minute Gartner briefings. At the very least, such exercises should make life more tolerable for a lot of analysts, AR people, and vendor reps alike, since none of them much likes hour-plus briefings that don’t lead to follow-up business benefit, either.

    AnonymousMarch 1, 2006 @ 9:05 pmReply
  7. In your humble opinion, should Gartner briefings to the large enterprises that subscribe to its services also be 30 minutes?



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Continuing the Discussion

  1. The rules of (analyst) engagement

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