A common myth is that suppliers can simply buy their way into the Leader section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Another is that firms that are not clients cannot be Leaders.
These are both myths. There are some tricks that vendors try to play with analysts. We even teach a full-day class on them. A vendor that simply stinks can buy a lot of time and a lot of attention, and they will get drinks and meals with Gartner’s aristocracy at times, but they just can’t buy their way in. It would kill Gartner’s credibility, demoralise its analysts and clients would see straight through it. Quite practically, even if it were theoretically possible its is impossible to outspend our competitors anywhere except the lead important firms.
Nor need a supplier be a client to get into the Leader quadrant. One of my firm’s first clients told me that they were a Leader in the Magic Quadrant that covered their industry, and that they had never been a Gartner client. Even today, they are still not a client.
However, I do think there is an important factor here: Gartner’s ‘Ability to Execute’ criteria correctly favor a supplier with revenue of $10 billion when they are up against a supplier with revenues of $10 million. Because Gartner focusses on selling to firms with revenues over $1 billion, larger organisations are more likely to be Gartner clients. Therefore, no-one cannot be surprised if Leaders are more likely to be Gartner clients — but this does not suggest a causal relationship.
Neither it is the case that has Gartner stolidly enforced a ‘glass ceiling’ of revenue across all the quadrants, although some Quadrants might use revenue threasholds. For example, our former client was a longtime player in its market but has revenue under $100 million. At that time its revenue was quite possibly under $50 million. However, its vision and niche leadership gave it a secure place in its Leader quadrant despite that firm being both modestly sized and not a Gartner client.