In this article, I want to outline the similarities and differences between a simple market intelligence firm approach and a niche service provider approach. There are many reasons you might want to research best practices from a 30,000-foot view as well as dive deeper at a 5,000-foot view.
Many of my clients will use both Gartner’s and The Negotiator Guru’s (TNG) services to achieve the best results for their companies.
The graphic below gives a basic overview of the similarities and differences between our companies and we’ll break each one down in this article.
There Are Some Similarities Between Gartner & The Negotiator Guru
Both Gartner and TNG provide information on market and industry trends as well as general guidance on IT Cost Optimization. We have each developed our own toolkits to strategically approach each client’s needs. We overlap when it comes to providing general guidance to CIO’s.
Our companies also both provide rate benchmark data although, as you’ll read below, we go about this in different ways. Gartner has quite a bit of data they provide in aggregated terms which is useful but, without isolating the information by industry or annual spend or similar categories, it can be difficult for CIOs and their supporting functions to narrow down actionable intelligence that is defensible and realistic.
There Are Many Differences Between Gartner & The Negotiator Guru
The keyword I would use to describe the services Gartner and TNG have in common is ‘general.’ Gartner is a great resource for general information across a wide array of topics but rarely provides niche depth that our customers are longing to consume.
In contrast, TNG has a deep and disciplined focus within the IT Software vertical which enables our team to share actionable insights that are localized, specific, and highly relevant to our clients. In fact, it was our early clients that helped shaped this disciplined focus as they made their niche needs clearly known to our team. Due to our outstanding client family, TNG has been on a journey to fill our clients’ market intelligence needs for specific supplier relationships. This has organically driven our firm to be the worldwide leader in Salesforce Contract Negotiation Advisory Services which typically is 80% of our work portfolio at any given time.
With the average cost of a Gartner subscription being $30,000 per seat, plus additional consulting costs in order to receive personalized advisory services, it’s worth your while to be informed on what they can and cannot help you achieve.
Because we provide specialized data and consulting services, we’re able to dig deeper into our clients’ businesses and tailor our process to better achieve the results they’re looking for.
The following are a few of the specific areas The Negotiator Guru differs from Gartner in terms of what services and results we can offer our clients.
While Gartner has a wealth of industry data and information, it can be nearly impossible for a client to look at the data and isolate a specific instance to best compare themselves to their peers. This leaves clients feeling informed but uncomfortable about how this information is applicable, and more importantly defensible, within their environment.
In certain circumstances, Gartner will provide “best in class” rates for a specific digital capability or service portfolio. One would argue that this provides directionally correct price targets to use as a market intelligence within their supplier negotiation. We generally agree, however, it’s important to note that your software sales executive (or worse yet your internal colleagues) will very quickly share with you that you don’t fit the profile of those rates for XYZ reason. We know this because we’ve been in these conversations on countless occasions.
In the rare case that you obtain “best in class” rate information for your specific topic of interest, you are still missing a critical piece of knowledge which we call our “Right Size” guidance. Using conservative figures, there is a 15-20% value-capture opportunity just by applying Right Size practices to your research and internal analysis before entering into any IT contract negotiation
Our supplier-specific expertise is one of the biggest contributors to this Right Sizing approach.
Within our Discovery Phase, we take an inventory of your current products and licenses and match them against your actual business needs. Almost always, we find that our clients are over licensed and have shelfware within their environment. This is an example of Right Sizing.
From a Right Pricing standpoint, not only do we understand “best in class” rates, we localize price targets based on industry, client size, and contract value. This enables our clients to feel 100% confident about the market intelligence as we’re benchmarking their rates against that of their likesize industry peers.
To expand upon this difference, we’ll use our expertise in Salesforce as an example.
As raised and validated by leading consulting and intelligence firms, TNG has the most comprehensive database of Salesforce rates in the world. This capability allows our team to quickly and easily perform a price benchmarking exercise for our clients. In many instances, we’ll inform prospective clients that their rates are within an acceptable margin of their “Right Price” benchmark and that the only real opportunity (if any) is to pursue “Right Sizing” inside of their environment. At TNG, our culture and client centric values direct our work and guide us to only accept prospective clients where we know with certainty there is a strong potential to drive huge impact.
Being able to combine Right Price and Right Size analysis will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your supplier negotiation strategies.
Contract Language Risks
As a result of our deep supplier-specific expertise, our team on average analyzes 5 - 15 software contracts per day. As a result, we know what’s “normal” with all of the large enterprise software platforms and any common risks that are inserted unbeknownst to our clients. By doing this every single day, our team is easily able to identify commonly-used, ambiguous language that always favors the supplier.
Large software companies know their customers rarely spend time analyzing terms and conditions within their contracts. Furthermore, the widely accepted principle of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) leads clients to believe the terms are standard and unchangeable.
Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. As part of our Contract Execution Phase, we conduct a deep dive assessment of our client’s supplier contract as part of our standard service (another major difference from Gartner). To put the impact of this added service into context, our team identifies a unique contractual risk within SaaS contracts alone 33% of the time. If the contract we are analyzing is not a SaaS contract, contractual risks are identified, on average, 85% of the time. Knowing what to look for in each supplier’s contract language helps our clients avoid common pitfalls and supplier-centric renegotiation strategies.
Sales Playbook Coaching
Another key difference between taking a general approach on market intelligence (Gartner) vs. a software specific deep niche (TNG) is the ability to learn and leverage the sales playbook(s) for these large enterprise suppliers. It may not surprise you that within the most successful software sales organizations are repeatable and prescriptive sales playbooks that guide the near robotic actions of their sales representatives.
As a result of learning these sales playbooks we are literally able to tell our clients the moves their suppliers are going to take next. This intelligence allows us to be one step ahead within the negotiation process while leveraging the interests of both parties.
While the art of negotiation is an art and not a science, arming yourself with this intelligence allows you to deploy counterintelligence strategies inside of your organization (to counteract common supplier tactics such as divide and conquer) while also proactively preparing counterpoints to their foreseeable arguments. As a result, our clients commonly tell us that they were the most prepared they have ever been before, during, and after a negotiation.
Advisory and Execution Services
We don’t just tell you what is possible. We help you achieve it.
The biggest criticism most companies have of typical market intelligence and/or management consulting firms is that they’ll tell you what “best in class” looks like but will leave you to figure out how to achieve it within your organization. If they do offer advisory services that help you implement their “best in class” then it will be for additional fees that eat away at the cost savings potential, etc.
We’re a full, beginning-to-end provider who will help you all the way through to the execution of the contract..
At TNG, we not only share a “best in class” picture but also create a realistic future state localized for your business. We help you implement that future state while also limiting risks to your organization long after our engagement ends. This is all part of our standard duty of care for our clients.
4-Step Negotiation Process
Our proprietary 4-step negotiation process allows us to deliver a clear and consistent service to our clients. In the interest of brevity we won’t go into detail of what each step entails, however, please know that within the Discovery and Strategy steps you will walk away with a forward looking roadmap as part of the overall engagement. If even offered, this would be an extra advisory fee from Gartner and/or any other market intelligence and/or management consulting firm.
The graphic below quickly outlines our negotiation process:
Compensation & Fees
Our compensation for these services is also entirely different from Gartner’s method.
As mentioned above, Gartner’s average subscription rate is $30,000 per person plus any additional consulting fees.
With this package, you have access to their standard publications, toolkits, and potentially a limited number of “analyst calls” which are quick conversations with the author of the publications. Any additional advisory assistance, if even possible, comes as an upcharge. Even with this additional cost, you will be on your own from an execution standpoint.
We charge either an Advisory Fee based on annual contract value or we offer a Pay Per Performance option with a simple baseline calculation.
We don’t charge based on a subscription service to our articles, we provide all this information for free.
Our rates contain no hidden charges or surprise upsells. On top of that, we’ll help you execute the strategies we develop with you.
We’re incredibly transparent with how we price our services and our clients never question the value they achieved from engaging with TNG.
Combining a Broad Overview Approach with a Specialized, Niche Consulting Firm is a Winning Equation
One of the questions we hear frequently is whether someone can/should work with both Gartner AND The Negotiator Guru.
The answer is yes!
Gartner provides a lot of good, general information. TNG helps you zoom in on the information that is most relevant to your organization so you can determine which key findings are critical for driving cost savings/avoidance while lowering your contractual risk.
Gartner is a market intelligence research firm that has a very limited advisory component separate from their articles. They do not generally provide execution services.
TNG provides information without a subscription fee and our advisory and execution services are provided in the same package.
Bringing in TNG to help you pinpoint your specific needs, value capture opportunities, and execution strategies will provide immediate and long-term intrinsic value for your organization. Remember, TNG will only accept you as a client if there is clear and distinct net positive impact potential… well, we can’t speak for the other guys.
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