What could have been a beautiful friendship…
Dear Gartner Group*,
It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since we first exchanged our vows.
It all started with as steamy a courtship as ever there was one. You were my knight in shiny armor who said all the right things and played to all of my aspirations. I was the reluctant bride who feared being exploited for my money and burdened with additional responsibilities. But we both wanted each other badly. You had a quota to achieve and I wanted to grow my business.
So after several weeks of dating, meeting with your friends and family, and being advised by my friends, I decided to throw caution to the wind and we got hitched. We’d give it a go for a year.
And here we are today, saying goodbye to each other. What happened to us? How did we get here?
While it was only a 12 month relationship, I can now see that it was really broken up into 3 roughly equal parts, each with their own theme. The themes were:
- Onset of Disillusionment
- Couples Therapy and Breakup
Let’s reflect on them in a little more detail.
Life was great at the start.
We were both committed to making this work. You understood what I wanted out of this relationship (grow my business) and I placed my trust in you to guide me through the Gartner Way. Which is actually quite simple. Find the analysts that most closely line up with your markets and technology and get them to fall in love with you…or at least like you enough to remember your name :-).
The bottom line is that, from a vendor’s perspective, Gartner Analysts are what make the world go around. If they know you, understand what you do, think you are bringing value to the market, are excited to talk about you, then you’re “in”. That means they’ll include you in their many briefings with Gartner clients (aka Corevist prospects) and, if you’re really really really lucky, they’ll write about you in one of their Reports.
It all starts with briefing the analysts and since my dowry didn’t include an “Analyst Pitch”, the first thing I had to do was put one together. I mean, when you’re a fast moving entrepreneurial company that is heads down interacting with the marketplace and aren’t interested in outside investments (yet), why spend the time putting together an Analyst/Investor oriented pitch? In the end, I’m actually quite glad that I put in the effort. When you’re forced to look at yourself from another perspective you learn a lot about yourself. Those were happy days.
Then it got grueling.
Multiple interactions (Briefings and Inquiries in Gartner parlance) with six analysts, spread out over 12 time zones over 4 weeks. Then there were the debriefs from the briefings and adjusting and readjusting our course and re-briefing the Analysts. By the end of this process we narrowed our focus down to two Gartner Analysts, Chris Fletcher and Penny Gillespie. They seemed to be the two analysts who expressed the most interest in Corevist’s technology, business model and accomplishments to date. They were also the two analysts who were fielding the most calls about Digital Commerce in the SAP® market. A relationship with Chris and Penny was what we were after and by the end of our first four months we had accomplished our goal. We knew that because we asked both of them point blank “If a prospect would ask you about Corevist, what would you say?”. Both, especially Penny, would position us as a vendor that should be included on the short list of vendors that have a Digital Commerce solution for SAP® Manufacturers (see this post ). Life was good. Then we entered the second phase of our relationship.
The Onset of Disillusionment
So here we were having set a world’s record of finding, briefing and winning over two of Gartner’s most prominent analysts, in the shortest period of time. Now we get to reap the fruits of our labor! Connections will be made and our name will be included in reports and we’ll be having more conversations than we can handle with Manufacturers who are looking to embark on their Digital Commerce Journeys. Woohoo!
Not so much.
Disappointment #1 – The 2014 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce is published in October and we didn’t make the “Other Vendors to Consider” list. That’s all I was aspiring to since we’re not big enough to meet the criterion to actually show up on the Quadrant itself. When I asked about it I was told that the report was written well in advance of Chris and Penny knowing about me and that reports are NEVER updated once they go live.
Disappointment #2 – The 2015 Gartner Digital Commerce Vendor Guide gets published in April and once again I’m not even mentioned. So Gartner, when we’re alone you tell me how great I am, but when we’re out in public you act as if you don’t even know me!!! The good news is that after I pointed out the fact that I was slighted you updated the report and now at least there is a public record of our relationship. But wait. Didn’t you tell me in Disappointment #1 that you never updated published reports? Hmmm. Your change of heart wouldn’t have anything to do with our pending renewal of our vows would it?
Disappointment #3 – Leads are my lifeblood and having Gartner facilitate conversations with prospective clients was THE reason we got married in the first place. You agreed that you could help. In the end, I got zero, nada, nil, zilch, nothing. Crickets. Not one connection. Not one phone call. The leading analyst firm in the world that has their finger on the pulse and whose target customers are my target customers was able to hook me up with NO ONE.
I get the fact that you couldn’t overtly promote me (wink wink) nor could you reveal to me who you brought me up to in conversation. That was going to be our little secret. You needed to protect your image in the marketplace as an unbiased analyst firm. I get that. The fact of the matter is you took my money in exchange for a marketing service. Google does that. The New York Times does that. Shoot, even porno websites do that. The only difference between them and you is that they hold themselves accountable to deliver on their promise. You just promise. Google tells me how many impressions or clicks I get on my advertisements, the NY Times tells me what their circulation is and porno sites, well…they probably count eyeballs. To be fair, you tried to give me a sense of how many inbound inquires our analysts fielded about B2B Digital Commerce in the SAP® space. But it was a major project for you to give me that data. As if I was the first person to ever ask you for the data. Oh, by the way, I wasn’t impressed with the results.
Disappointment #4 – While I was pointing out the previous disappointments to you, your consul to me was that we simply needed to keep the analysts briefed. We simply need to stay in front of them. That was the dance. Think of things to brief them on. Anything. Just stay in front of them. Have them review your presentation. Have them review your contracts. Have them review your new brochure. Anything to stay in front of them.
This is the part that taxes my dignity. I don’t need for them to review my presentations, contracts or brochures. I need for them to INTRODUCE ME TO POTENTIAL CLIENTS LIKE YOU PROMISED YOU WOULD. Scheduling meetings under the pretense that I need help with this “marketing asset” just to have an excuse to meet with them makes me feel dirty. Why can’t we be honest with each other?
Granted, I did all of the above and indeed I did get some very good suggestions that improved all of those assets. Especially from Penny Gillespie. She’s one sharp analyst! But that’s not why we got married. We got married because you promised you could make introductions into your network. You could help me grow my business. That’s what this relationship was all about. Am I repeating myself? Sorry.
Couples Therapy and The Breakup
Around 90 days before my contract renewal date, you started to take my discontent seriously. “Let’s put together a plan” you said. “What do we have to do to ensure that you renew?” was your mantra. I was happy that you finally were starting to listen and wanted to make this relationship work. I went back to the very beginning. All I want is for you to help me grow my business. Your retort was that “we need more time”. Of course I had to pay for that time, and there were no “anti-disillusionment” suggestions on how to improve the relationship moving forward, but you insisted that all we needed was more time.
So I had to make a decision.
Was I going to listen to your words or observe your actions? Your words were telling me that we were on the “verge”. That I “can’t quit now”. Your actions were more of the same. Schedule more briefings. Get in front of the analysts. Subscribe to other services that we have that can help you mature your product marketing. Frankly, these were perceived as acts of desperation to keep me married to you. I was flattered that the Gartner Group would work so hard to keep me as a client, but my decision was clear. I had to decide between continuing to invest in your heretofore unfulfilled promises or deal with my daily reality and reallocate those funds to growing my development capacity, support personnel and data center upgrades to service my growing client base.
I now know that a relationship with the Gartner Group was wrong for me, at least at this stage in my life. Don’t get me wrong, Gartner produces thought provoking content and indeed provides great analysts and networking opportunities for client companies. However, it’s a different story if you’re a vendor. They prey on your aspirations and extract a heavy price, in time, money and dignity.
I have to get back to running my business.
So in this case, it’s really not you Gartner, it’s me. I thought we’d be good together but you’re just too old for me. I’m living for the moment. I’m too aggressive with my aspirations. I’m a millennium who is changing the world. You’re just living in a 1980’s world. We simply don’t get each other.
You should know that I’ll always have a place for you in my heart. You helped me grow up. You taught me that it’s more important to know who you are than to brag about who you are with.
I know you’ll do fine without me and don’t worry about me, I’m having a banner year!
*The Gartner Group is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company.