resource_iconWhat would it say about your company and your products and services if the Magic Quadrant references you had nominated came out with comments that were unhelpful or even destructive?

Supposing they said: “X’s offering is complex – the solution is often difficult to implement and maintain.” Supposing the analyst’s summing up said: “Customer references report that the product is too expensive, too complex, not easy to use and too modular.” Or perhaps even “Overall Y scored the lowest across all included vendors in terms of satisfaction of its reference clients. Y scored low to very low on vision and leadership, industry expertise, staffing, business and innovation.”

Harsh comments? Yes. But these are all actual examples from recent Magic Quadrants. And the companies on the receiving end will still be reeling from the shock.

In our MQ webinar on 20 May, Getting Great References for Your Magic Quadrant Submission, we looked at how such nightmares can occur. How can the situation arise where a company finds its own hand-picked references making damagingly critical comments? And what can you do in advance to avoid the risk of such a disaster?

Three Reasons Why Disasters Occur

In the webinar, we pinpointed the three root causes we have identified in our own long years of experience as senior Gartner analysts and in the 65 MQ assessment engagements we’ve completed for The Skills Connection in the last two years.

  • The first is the yawning gap that often exists between the analyst’s understanding of the reference-gathering process and the real situation on the ground in the vast majority of technology companies.
  • The second is companies making the dangerous assumption that someone who is a good reference for a potential customer is necessarily the ideal reference for a Gartner analyst.
  • The last related issue, whether or not the right company has been selected, is that the individual supplying the reference often does not understand what is going on. There’s a very specific and unusual process taking place here, and few people know exactly how each score or comment they provide will actually be used.

Best Practices for Great Reference Results

Our webinar examined best practices in relation to the three key processes needed to get the best possible references – nurturing, selection and preparation. This prompted participants to post a flurry of follow-up questions, most of which we’ll address soon in another blog. The favourite topic for these queries was the tricky, highly nuanced issue of reference preparation.

How to Get It Right First Time

You can hear our full response in the recording of the Q&A session that followed the webinar.

Basically, though, it’s all about the need to focus on a process that will equip your references to be the masters of their own destiny, so that the result of giving a reference is exactly what they would wish it to be. If you’ve chosen the right reference, that desired outcome should be aligned directly with your own. If not, well… Look at it this way, trying to put words into people’s mouths is always a high risk strategy – and it’s certainly not one we would recommend.

So if you’re not getting the results you’d ideally want from your references, take the opportunity now to access this webinar – free of charge – in the Knowledgebank section of the Skills Connection website. It could be the crucial difference between a smile of delight or a howl of anguish when that vital Magic Quadrant is finally published.