Gartner Analyst Relations Newsletter
   October 2007 Vol. 1 No. 1 

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Analyst Perspectives on Successful Vendor Briefings

Five analysts share their advice for AR professionals who are preparing for a Gartner Vendor Briefing.

What's the key information you look for in a Vendor Briefing?

Massimo Pezzini, vice president and distinguished analyst, application development integration and Web technologies, says:

  • "There's no better way to communicate that your product is delivering its intended business benefits than telling a story of a successful implementation. I like to remind vendors just how powerful this technique can be.
  • "If you have not sold a new product and, hence, you have no success stories, be sure to tell us about any pilots that have been completed. Analysts appreciate this and won't interpret it negatively at all.
  • "Have your numbers ready for basic questions such as, 'How many customers do you have? How many engagements do you deliver per year? What's your market share? Which verticals are you pursuing?' AR professionals should ensure that everyone in the briefing can recite their numbers cold with no hesitation."

What's your best advice for an AR professional who is preparing their company to brief Gartner for the first time?

Andrew White, vice president research, business applications and process, says:

"As a new vendor, we expect to see a different twist on an old problem or the vendor putting technology to work in a new and innovative way. But unfortunately, many vendors new to the Gartner briefing process consume too much time with what they believe to be a unique point of view that actually doesn't communicate anything new. Facts always talk louder than chest beating.

  • "AR professionals should ensure that their company clearly differentiates itself from existing players in the market; marketing hyperbole won't impress the analyst.
  • "When a vendor new to the market says, 'We know more about this than anyone else,' it causes any audience, including an industry analyst, to shut down. Communicate with pride, and with facts, but be careful not to get too egocentric."

Should AR managers cut all selling out of their company's briefing with Gartner?

Hung LeHong, research vice president, retail segment, says:

"We expect vendors to engage in a certain amount of selling when they brief us. But as an analyst relations manager, ensure that your presentation team knows that a vendor briefing is not a sales call. It is an opportunity to build understanding and trust. If your company is pushing the technology envelope or has landed a unique deal, we want to know about it. But be careful not to oversell.

  • "Remind your management team that Gartner analysts cross-check and validate everything they hear. If you oversell something, we'll find out about it. And if overselling becomes a pattern, it will actually erode our trust.

  • "Vendors should not be shy about telling us they've learned from their mistakes or that they made assumptions that didn't play out as they intended. There is no such thing as a perfect implementation or a perfect product strategy. If you tell us about things that went wrong and how you're correcting them, we interpret that very positively. If you tell us everything is going perfectly, that can actually raise a red flag."

What should an AR manager do when a Vendor Briefing gets combative or argumentative?

Earl Perkins, research vice president, secure business enablement, says:

"Vendor Briefings can get argumentative for any number of reasons. The best advice I can give AR managers is to take preventive steps to avoid arguments from happening in the first place:

  • "Prepare no more than five to seven slides and keep them brief, crisp and focused.

    "Use the five-to-10 rule, which means allow five minutes for questions after each 10-minute segment of presentation; that way, you will ensure you make it to the last slide. Few analysts, if any, will hold their questions to the end of your presentation.

  • "Be sure to brief your management team on the purpose of the Vendor Briefing: to understand your strategy, product planning/development, road map and architecture.

    "Of course, we want to understand your marketing and sales strategy, especially if you're a startup, but save it for the presentation's end. Ensure that the presentation includes competitive context, customer retention, partnership and licensing strategies. Keep it tight and focused.

  • "If you've done your homework and briefed your management team correctly and an argument still erupts during a briefing, table it.

    "Some disagreements need to be aired, but try not to waste valuable Vendor Briefing time with issues. As an AR manager, request a call with the source of the tension, which can often be over a Gartner Magic Quadrant positioning, Gartner MarketScope study or other published research. As a last resort, there's the Gartner Ombudsman. But keep in mind, disagreements and issues are best resolved at the analyst level."

What should an AR manager do when some bad or even damaging press is released about their company just before a scheduled briefing?

Allie Young, vice president and distinguished analyst, outsourcing, says:

"Not long ago, I attended an event sponsored by a vendor that had just experienced some pretty rough waters. The CEO faced the issue head on. He didn't wait until mid-presentation to address it; he didn't wait for the Q&A. He acknowledged it right away along with what he and his team were doing to manage the situation. It was the best way to go.

  • "My cardinal rule: Don't ignore unfortunate bad press. Be proactive and follow the Tylenol model. Tell us, to the extent you can, the context of the situation, the facts as you see them today and what you're doing about it. Have a senior executive present if appropriate.

  • "In some cases, there will be things that are confidential. You may be in a quiet period, or the situation might involve rumor. We understand that you'll have communications constraints, but generally, transparency is the best advice I can give AR managers in this situation. Tell us your side of the story with the truth as you see it.

  • "Canceling a briefing in the wake of some unfortunate bad news is usually not a good idea because it can validate the situation. If you're not prepared to talk about recent bad news, you can still acknowledge the situation and table the discussion until you're ready."

Visit the Vendor Briefings page on to learn more and to request a Vendor Briefing.

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