Evaluation research... to participate or not to participate? That is the (very good) question

by Mike Pruitt

September 17, 2018


“Is it better to be in a Wave or Magic Quadrant even if we don’t show well? Or are we better off declining participation?” I often get asked this question from my clients, and the answer, of course, is not black or white. It really does depend on many factors. The key is to have buy-in at all levels of the organization. Here are a few important considerations as you are weighing this decision:

Do you have a relationship with the author? If not, do you have time to build one?

It’s most likely going to take more than one conversation with the author to be included in an evaluation report. You will need some runway to build up trust and recall of your solution or service. Allow yourself enough time to lay the groundwork with the author(s). Analysts take hundreds of calls each year, and in many cases they are hearing the same or similar things from your competition. Ensure that you are differentiated and that your value proposition is clear. Use inquiries to understand how they view your offering and where you might have gaps. But, if you are late to the party, then you might want to consider passing.

What are the expectations of your executive team?

You won’t believe how often I’ve heard “Leader or bust,” and maybe you hear that from your executives too. It is very difficult, if not impossible to enter a vendor evaluation report as a Leader. The only times I’ve seen this happen is if you are already a market leader or it’s a net new report. So, make sure that you have set the proper expectations with your leadership team prior to going down this path. Lay out the possible scenarios for them, especially the realistic ones emphasizing likely placement in non-Leader quadrants, so that they can help you make the decision. If your executive team has unrealistic expectations, you may want to pass.

Are you trying to establish yourself in a market?

Analyst evaluation reports short list the best of the best in a given industry. Being on this list can add credibility to your brand, especially if you are not currently widely known for having this capability or service. It can also provide increased brand awareness. Even if you’re not ranked at the very top, analysts make their recommendations based on their specific clients’ needs, not based on where a company landed in a quadrant. Thus, participation in evaluation research could help you gain referrals from the AR channel. If building brand awareness is a primary imperative, then you may want to accept the risk of participating and not placing well.

Are your competitors in this report?

If so, how likely is it that your performance will be on par with theirs? How will it be perceived to be listed behind some of your competitors? How will it be perceived if you aren’t listed at all? While you can’t control the placement of those in your market, you need to think through the implications of how you may be perceived compared to them. You can use inquiry or even advisory to gain more insight into your strengths and weaknesses as compared to your competition. If all your closest competitors are on the evaluation report, omission could be more damaging than performing poorly.

Do you have the support of your organization?

Evaluation reports take up time and often calls for people to work after hours. There is a questionnaire, a briefing, references, and in many cases a demo. You will not be able to do this alone. Make sure that you have the right executives and Subject Matter Experts lined up. There is no point in participating if you don’t have what you need to be successful.

A real world example:

Recently, I counseled two clients through this question for an evaluation report on Digital Experience Agencies. Though asked to participate in the same report, after talking through these questions we came to two different conclusions, both of which aligned to their goals, respectively.

Client 1 had an established brand, but they weren’t known for building digital experiences. The report was focused specifically on specialty providers, and the client wasn’t confident they would place well. Given this fact and that their main competitors would not likely be in this report, they decided to decline participation.


Client 2 was a lesser-known entity. Building digital experiences were a core competency and they wanted to maximize their visibility, regardless of where they placed. They felt it was worth it to participate, even if they didn’t make the top right. They’d taken the time to build a relationship with the author and felt confident he understood their differentiators. Thus, they decided to participate.


As you can see, there is no perfect answer to if you should or should not participate in a major analyst evaluation research report. You need to weigh the maturity of your business, expectations of leadership and your overall business goals. And perhaps most importantly, ensure that you have the right resources and support from within your organization to put your best foot forward.

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. Leave a comment below to join the discussion.