Looking out of my office window in the past month, I’ve been greeted most days by pretty well incessant rain. Here in Britain, it seems like it’s been raining for weeks. In some places, houses are flooded and gardens are knee-deep in water. Yet we’re told the country is also in the middle of the worst drought in over 30 years.

Water utilities are desperate to reduce consumption. In many parts of the country, people are legally banned from using hosepipes to watering their waterlogged gardens. So how can this possibly make any sense?

The answer, of course, is that it’s not just about the volume of rain. It’s also critical when it rains. When the ground is dry the water doesn’t penetrate and the vital underground supplies remain unreplenished.

And my point is? Well, my point is that working with analyst firms turns out to be just the same.

Yesterday I was on a call with a prospective client who had recently been assessed by Gartner in a Magic Quadrant. The company was not happy with the result.

Over the last couple of months, this company had rained information down upon the analysts in an absolute deluge.

Most important of all, within this torrent of data, was the information the analysts most needed to see, which showed that their view of the market was leaving out some key aspects. This is a market in flux and this company had flooded the analyst with well-supported information about why the winners and losers were potentially changing.

The big surprise came when the Magic Quadrant was published. There was absolutely no mention of any major shifts in the market, or the need for changing definitions of winners and losers. And this company, as a result, was not seen by Gartner as being among the winners.

Understanding the analyst’s agenda

So how could this possibly have come about? The answer, of course, is that it’s not just about the volume of information. What’s also critical is when and how this information is shared.

Analysts have a full schedule. Indeed, their constant gripe is that they have far too much to do in far too little time (and – many would add – for far too little pay).

They have hundreds of client inquiries to answer each year, dozens of presentations and webinars to prepare and deliver, research to gather and write up in the form of numerous notes and blogs, sales calls and meetings to attend, and custom engagements to deliver.

Your deluge of information is just one part of the endless stream of data being rained down upon them – especially around the time of the Magic Quadrant assessments.

To you, it may be the most important thing in the world. To the analyst, it’s just one more source of noise.

The right sort of rain, at the right sort of time

It’s important to realize, though, that that’s not true throughout the year. At other times, the analysts are deep in research development and the boot is on the other foot.

They are starved of good stories to develop into compelling slides to deliver at Symposium or at industry conferences. They are desperate for the kind of nuggets of information that will make them stand out when they get their opportunities as keynote speakers at prestigious events. They are searching everywhere for the right end-user case studies to fill out their agenda.

At these times, most analysts are very open to discussing a supplier’s vision of the market to see if there are new insights they can utilize to help them look smart and ahead of the game. That’s the time when it needs to rain – not in the dry of the assessment season.

Planning for the right rain, at the right time, in the right volume, is not a simple matter.

But when the impact of analysts’ opinions on buyer behaviour can be so decisive, it should be a top priority for every supplier’s marketing budget.

After all, how many other marketing programs do you engage in that will definitely touch and influence 50 percent or more of those buyers who are actively seeking a solution or service just like yours?

Believe me, now is the time to study your geography and discover how to make rain. And if you need any guidance, just ask us.

After 50 years, collectively, of having been rained upon as Gartner analysts, we know exactly how – and when – to make the right rain.

Are we on target? The last thing we want is everyone agreeing with what goes into this blog. After all, if you don’t disagree with some of the points we’ve raised, we’ll be forced to be more and more provocative, and who knows where that will end? So let us have your thoughts. Do you think the research organizations are swayed by the amount people spend with them? Or do we get the assessments we deserve? Shoot us down and have your say.