One of the most common ways tech providers engage Gartner analysts is thru what we call “vendor briefings”. A Gartner vendor briefing is an opportunity for a tech provider to present its products, services and business strategies to analysts who cover the vendor specifically or a related technology or market. However, I find most vendor briefings are ineffective because tech providers don’t really know some of the best practices to make them more impactful.
Basics about Vendor Briefings:
- Tech providers do not need to be Gartner clients to brief analysts.
- Tech providers initiate the request to brief analysts using this form on Gartner: https://www.gartner.com/en/contact/vendor-briefings
- Gartner analysts can agree to accept or decline the vendor briefing request at their discretion. Analysts often will only agree to briefing requests if they have an interest in the vendor, its products and its marketplace. Not because of any contractual relationship with Gartner.
- Vendor briefings are typically 30 to 60 minutes in length via phone using Gartner’s web conferencing platform. However, most analysts will just agree to 30 min unless they are very interested in the topic.
- Dialing instructions are provided upon analyst confirmation. Audio briefings are recorded and accessible by Gartner analysts who couldn’t attend the session.
A Peek Behind the Vendor Briefing Curtain
One of the most important things is to understand how vendor briefings are different from inquiries:
- Inquiries are a 1:1 communication between the tech provider and one analyst; vendor briefings are a 1:many communication tool in which a tech provider can update multiple analysts at one time.
- Gartner analysts don’t have the option to decline an inquiry if it is in their coverage area and they have availability. On the other hand, analysts can decline vendor briefings at their sole discretion.
- Analysts have a much more limited number of available vendor briefing slots on their calendars compared to inquiry availability. This means that it can often take weeks or month from the time of vendor briefing request and the scheduled date.
- Vendor briefings are a way communication tool in which the tech provider is sharing information with analysts. Gartner analysts may ask clarifying questions, but they won’t provide recommendations, feedback, or other advice during the call.
- Gartner does not treat the information shared during briefings as confidential and will ignore any confidential designations in presentation materials. Inquiries, on other the hand, are treated as confidential discussions.
- Gartner analysts are measured on their productivity and vendor briefings do not contribute to their score – only inquiries count.
The Top 9 Vendor Briefing Worst Practices
- Not understanding the objective for a vendor briefing or the impact that it can have. A vendor briefing is an important opportunity to make an impression and to display market leadership, forward thinking innovation, and customer impact in front of key analysts who recommend solutions to end-user organizations making tech buying decisions.
- Not appealing to why analysts should accept your vendor briefing request. Your briefing request should engage and excite analysts to attend. If not, analysts will simply decline. You need to communicate the value that the analyst will receive in listening to you, whether that’s hearing about your recent customer successes or seeing the latest products and technology that your customers are excited about.
- Not preparing for the vendor briefing. Many tech providers simply show up and present their standard customer briefing deck. Analysts do not want to hear a sales pitch. They are analyzing the market, your competition and your customers. You don’t need to provide an overview to a market that the analyst covers. That’s what they do every day with clients. And, be brief. They want to know what you offer, how it works, and why you are different, better and successful. If you need help, Gartner go-to-market analysts can help you plan the optimal agenda that will resonate with your key analysts.
- Not targeting the right analysts that cover your space. Analysts have their own individual research agendas, which can vary widely, spanning general market trends, IT product or service segments, horizontal technologies, vertical industries, buyer roles, buyer segments, and/or individual geographies. Do your best to be aware of your target audience ahead of time. Learn about your targeted analysts’ focus area and agenda by researching their biographies, coverage areas on their firm’s website, and recent published research. This also means tailoring the vendor briefing content to what analysts will care about as it relates to their coverage area.
- Not having your positioning, messaging, and differentiators solidified. Don’t schedule vendor briefings if you are still trying to figure out your story and what makes you different. Schedule an inquiry with a Gartner go-to-market analyst instead. You usually get one chance to make an impression. Analysts will listen during the vendor briefing and immediately decide what bucket your company and product belong in. They will also decide if you have anything unique to offer customers or you are one of many vendors offering the same capabilities. It’s hard to undo that first impression.
- Not understanding that vendor briefings are competitive events. You are competing for analyst time and mindshare. Gartner analysts are very likely getting briefed by almost all of your competitors which means that the impact of your poor performance can be amplified if others do well.
- Trying to schedule lots of vendor briefings with the same analysts. An average tech provider typically has an opportunity to brief an individual analyst once or twice a year. Exceptions can occur in dynamic markets or on occasions when a vendor has a major corporate action like product launch or acquisition. Use vendor briefings wisely.
- Scheduling an inquiry weeks or months after the vendor briefing to get analyst feedback. If you are looking for feedback about your product or how you are telling your story, schedule an inquiry instead of a briefing. That way you can get real-time feedback and advice.
- Using vendors briefings to get analysts to write about your company or product. Tech providers, especially those that outsource analyst relations to PR firms, often treat Gartner analysts like press and try to get their clients written up in research. If your goal is to use vendor briefings to get Gartner analysts to write about your product, then you need to reset your expectations. Analysts don’t have any motivation to write about you, unless you’re worth writing about.
Now that you know some of the worst practices, here is published Gartner research about “best practices” to help you plan and deliver more effective vendor briefings: