It’s hip to be Cool. If there’s one thing all technology startups would love to get their mits on shortly after publicly launching their company, it’s a Gartner Cool Vendors recognition. Cool Vendors research examines disruptive vendors that help companies solve long-established problems and stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing world. Last year, Gartner profiled 330 Cool Vendors in 76 reports. Each report represents a unique market segment that they feel is worth watching. For example, a few of this year’s reports looked at digitization, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).
To be recognized, a cool vendor should be a small company/startup that offers a technology or service that is innovative, impactful and intriguing (i.e., has caught Gartner’s interest in the last six months). In my tenure at 10Fold, I’ve helped to get a couple of my clients be considered for a Cool Vendors award; TrapX and Veriflow and over the years, more than 50 10Fold clients were cool vendors.
Sounds easy, right? So, how do you get one?
It’s not as hard as you think, but there are a few steps and notes that I’ve shared below that will help you in your journey. This is a journey you need to get moving on NOW, because the first reports start to roll out around the April/May timeframe.
The first thing you should do is research previous Cool Vendors reports in the technology domain you’re currently competing in. If you can’t find an exact report match, it should be at least somewhat close technologically.
Next, research the analyst(s) who contributed to that report, because it’s likely that if they did a report on your market segment last year, there’s a good chance they’ll revisit it again this year (or at least slightly modify it to accommodate for market evolution). In some cases, you may find your technology is split across more than one Cool Vendors report and that’s okay. Make note of all the analysts in all of the reports you think you would qualify for. During your research, you’ll probably find a few of those analysts appearing in multiple Cool Vendors reports. Also, you should know that analysts do talk to each other when they’re hashing out who should go into which report.
Once you’ve identified the analyst(s) responsible for the Cool Vendors report(s) you think you’re a fit for, it’s time to get them up to speed on your company and its product(s). And this can be done through Gartner’s Vendor Briefings Request Page.
Note: From a timing perspective, once you submit a briefing request, it can take 2-3 days for the analyst to get back to you. And, if an analyst is interested in a briefing, they’ll typically schedule two to four weeks out from the initial request. Beware of trying to schedule multiple analysts at the same time for the same briefing. Trying to coordinate multiple analyst schedules is difficult and could push your proposed briefing dates out even further. We suggest briefing one at a time to start with. Briefings can be scheduled for 30 or 60 minutes. We recommend using the full 60 minutes to allow you ample time to get your story across.
After your briefing(s) are scheduled, it’s time to wow them with what you’ve got. In terms of what the analysts want to hear, be sure to include in your deck:
What your company does why is it worth investigating
What services and products you offer
Why customers buy your product or service
What business problems it solves
What differentiates your product from existing products and services
Where you fit in the market relative to your top competitors
When you will complete your next important milestones (such as your go to market strategy, your product roadmap, etc.)
If you have a Gartner subscription, they do have PPT deck experts in house free of charge who will listen to your presentation and give you valuable feedback. If you’re not a Gartner subscriber, we recommend hiring a third-party company that specializes in corporate messaging. They’ll be able to help guide you in terms of story flow and the most important elements analysts will be looking for. For example, we have done that many, many times at 10Fold.
If possible, try to squeeze two vendor briefings out of each of your targeted analysts. The first one should be used for a company/product overview and the second should be reserved for a product demonstration (which can be done over WebEx or other screen sharing application). Because, for many analysts, seeing is believing.
For our last piece of advice…. Stay cool. When you do get the analyst on the phone DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask them what it takes to get a Cool Vendors award. This is absolutely forbidden. Doing so will not only turn the analyst off (it’s tantamount to grade grubbing), but they can actually remove your company entirely from Cool Vendors consideration. Good luck out there!
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