Our friend Richard Stiennon put his promotional engine in gear this week to push his new book, UP and to the RIGHT. So my Twitter stream has been blown up by all sorts of folks praising Richard’s work. Which is great for Richard. I know what kind of commitment is required to write a book and what’s involved in self-publishing one. Including the Herculean task of getting your buddies to write glowing reviews and generating buzz in the echo chamber.

Need to figure out how to game this MQ...Richard is a good analyst. He has seen the process of vendor ranking from both sides, as both the analyst and the vendor. If someone is going to write a book about optimizing a vendor’s position on the Magic Quadrant, it should be Richard. If you just fell off the turnip truck and have no idea how analyst relations works, then maybe you need a book to teach you what to do. But it has been a long time since I’ve talked to someone at a high level within a enterprise class security vendor who doesn’t understand how the process works.

In terms of disclosure, I haven’t read Richard’s book and I’m not going to. I’ve lived Richard’s book. So has Rich (from the analyst side) and Adrian (from the vendor side). So maybe Richard has new nuggets of wisdom for all of us. But let me save you all a little time and tell you vendor folks the two steps to a better ranking on any of the analyst charts.

  • Step 2: Go back to Step 1.

It’s not really any more complicated than that. Of course you can spend a zillion dollars on subscription services and analyst days and conference sponsorships. That may move your dot a little bit. But it won’t move your dot a lot. The only thing that will truly shift your ranking is customer success.

That’s what most folks don’t understand. Or don’t want to understand. Lots of vendors (strangely correlated with those in the ‘loser’ quadrant) continue to hide behind the pay for play bogeyman, figuring they aren’t ranked better because the big competitor spends a bunch more money on analyst services. That’s rubbish. In my experience, it doesn’t work that way.

And by the way, marketing professionals can’t fix a busted product or a company and finagle a better ranking. Analysts (even the bad ones) involved in an MQ or Wave project talk to a lot of people. They hear the good and the bad. Calling in favors to get your good customers to call the analyst (‘unprompted’) and tell them good things may help. But not if the ratio of calls talking about replacing your gear to those good calls is 4:1. Believe me, I’ve tried.

I’m not going to minimize the importance of spending time building rapport with the analyst who covers your company. Oh, by the way, you may actually learn something if you spend half a second listening to what the analyst says about what’s happening in your market. As opposed to spinning like a nuclear centrifuge for the entire meeting. Talk to them quarterly. Keep them updated on what’s going on with your company. On your success and your failures. They are going to hear about your failures anyway, so you may as well be honest. If you have a compelling vision that aligns with how they see the world, then these briefings may move your dot a little to the right. But not a lot.

I’m sure there is a lot of great stuff in Richard’s book. But nothing in a book is going to help you sell more stuff to the end users who Gartner and Forrester are talking to every day. If those folks aren’t looking at your product or service, and if they aren’t deploying it, you have no shot. You deserve to be in the loser quadrant. And no number of strategy days is going to change that.

Photo credit: “Magic Quadrant Fruits White” originally uploaded by Jinho Jung