clockWhat Skills Should You Be Investing In Right Now?

Will You make the cut?

Cisco is laying off another 8% of its workforce. That’s about 6000 people – it’s not the first time. And they’re not the only ones making cuts.  Microsoft reported a cut of 18,000 jobs in July and HP has had its share as well. Is the technology market dying?

Absolutely not!

The problem is one of skill sets. In 2007, in my book The House & the Cloud I warned technology people not to get too comfortable with their networking and VoIP skills. People got angry at me when I told them security would continue with strong growth over the next 10 years, VoIP would not. Technology is not going away, however it is constantly changing. It’s easy to get caught in a rut if you’re not peeking out over the horizon to see what’s next. Technology products commoditize, while disciplines like security and operational efficiency improvements using technology do not.

Even sales people, if you focus too hard on the technology will be cut. Develop the skills that make high performance sales possible and you’ll find your company working overtime to reposition you with new technology.

So Who Will Make the Cut?

So, which tech skills are in demand? The Wall Street Journal interviewed several high-level managers to see what they’re looking for and reported in this morning’s CIO Journal. Here are  few sound bites worth noting:

1. Bobby Patrick, vice president marketing at Hewlett Packard: “The cloud skills gap is the single biggest barrier to the future adoption of cloud infrastructures.”  So do you really understand cloud technology to it’s fullest? The article goes on to state that, “cloud tech workers are the hardest to find because IT workers in cloud environments must balance being  technology brokers, cloud integration specialists, service architects and user experience designers.” It’s not just the storage available in Dropbox, of the Applications from

2. Adriana Karaboutis, global CIO for Dell: Says, finding people with “Big Data and analytics skills is toughest because Big Data professionals have a good understanding of information virtualization, data mining, collaboration and business domain analysis – skills that can drive revenue, margin and market share.” Again, it’s not just technology, but the business application of technology.

3. Chris Belmont, vice president and CIO for M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston:“Analytics and Big Data” – top of the list.

4. Tim Arthur, the CIO for Alltech: Looking for technology people that also possess strong character and human skills. I suspect he’s seen his share of technology people lacking communication skills and the ability to really work with the business side people.

5. Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III, president for University of Maryland Baltimore Campus: Looking for people who are “well-read, ask good questions and come with strong communication, teamwork and analytical skills.”  Again, he sees technology people lacking the ability to relate to business and business people.  People who can take technology and apply it to today’s business problems. People who read and continue to learn…

6. Adecco North America HR Team: Called soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, “The most significant skills gap in the U.S.”  This is right. In my training classes and coaching programs I spend a lot of time helping people learn to present technical information to executives. This is why lunch & learn events fail to convert prospects to buyers, and it’s why the assessments rarely lead to remediation projects.

7. Eric J. Sigurdson, the CIO Practice Leader at Russell Reynolds: Looking for people with “Deep cyber security experience, combined with excellent interpersonal skills and executive presence.” Here it is – security. Cisco is ramping up security right now, so is HP. In fact, they’ll be hiring more people once they make the cut. In 2000 I saw the writing on the wall. I was knowledgeable on networks, but not security. The first thing I did was go out and study for my CISSP. A year later I was “The Security Guy.”  I paid for it out of my own pocket!

Here’s the big surprise!

The number of open info tech jobs grew 19% over the past 12 months! So they’re cutting jobs – but 19% growth is amazing growth. The resources are out there – the problem is, most people are unwilling to fund their own continuing education. You can’t sit still and expect to be successful in the long run.

© 2014, David Stelzl

Here’s an opportunity to get some training for free!  I’m re-running my Turning Prospects into Clients training this Friday…sign up right here is you are a technology reseller, and it’s free << REGISTER HERE


Ramon Baez HPIf You’re Going to Call on CIOs,

You’ve got to Understand Them…

What is Ramon Baez, CIO of HP, saying about Successful CIOs? Why do You Care?


In my book, From Vendor to Adviser, I have an entire chapter devoted to accessing power – getting to the decision makers as well as highly influential people; people who will move the organization to action. This morning’s CIO Journal (WSJ) had an excellent article discussing CIOs and what makes them successful. If you plan on meeting with CIOs, and working to become an advisor at the executive level, it’s essential that you understand what they are up to. Ramon Baez, CIO of HP, offers some great wisdom on this subject.

Leadership – Re-engineering HP’s IT

If you’re watching the IT news, you know HP has struggled.  There have been some really bad reports on this company over the past few years. One report even talked about trash piling up in the office and spoiling as HP cut corners to save money. People were leaving in droves, and the facilities were shutting down right around 5 PM to conserve energy, regardless of the individual workers’ schedules and deadlines.

Over the past two years Whitman, Baez, and other HP leaders have been working hard to recreate this company. One dramatic effort I’ve been watching is the emerging security play. HP’s tried this before, but not under this leadership team. As far back as I can remember, HP’s been trying to get into the security game. But it looks like they are really serious this time. In fact they’ve hired many of my friends from companies like Blue Coat, Kaspersky, Symantec, and others.  This would be a great thing for HP if they can make it work this time.

They are also moving into the cloud…Baez, in a move to make this company more responsive and ready to serve today’s market, has migrated about 400 applications to a private cloud. Baez tells the Journal, “What previously took five weeks to deploy, now takes about an hour.” Talk about operational efficiency.  By the way, this is a great sound bite – can you deliver this kind of ROI to your customers? Here’s a CIO quote with some substance from a credible source. The Journal report goes on to tell us that HP plans to “invest more than $1 billion over the next two years to develop cloud computing software and tools.”

This is the kind of thing CIOs should be doing for their companies. Can you help them get there?

Advice to CIOs and Sales People Looking to Advise

Baez’s article is really about CIOs and what they need to be doing to stay on top. His message is a good one, but it also serves as direction for the sales person who wants to peer at that C-Level. In his article he provides several important tips which I will summarize here…

1. Bring in people who think differently. He’s referring here to new hires who are bringing in new ideas as he works to overhaul HP…ideas that will help HP make the dramatic changes necessary to stay alive and thrive. Every company needs this. Every company needs something to propel it forward. That’s the role of the trusted advisor.  It’s what the Challenger Sale is all about (Matthew Dixon.) The question I pose in my From Vendor to Adviser book is, “Can you advise?” In other words, are you doing the things that make you smarter and wiser, and well equipped to be an advisor to today’s business leaders. Most sales people are not.

2. Talk Like a CEO. This is an interesting one. Again, Baez is writing to CIOs, not sales people. He’s telling them, if they want to be successful, they need to sound like CEOs, not technical people. That means they understand the business side, the profitability, the strategy, and the vision. But that’s what trusted advisors sound like. This is why companies like Deloitte and KPMG have offices on the nice floors of the enterprise accounts you call on. IT and the technical sales people are meeting down the hall from the data center – with no decision makers in the room.  How can you upgrade yourself to this level? By reading, studying, and observing. By becoming that trusted advisor.

3. Look Like a CEO. When I started in this business, I was in IT. I worked for McNeil Consumer Products – and I remember a few of the guys in the group always dressed like professionals. It caught my eye. From there I worked for Bank of America. Again, we all dressed for work. In 1995, when a group of us joined together to build an integration company, we dressed like bankers – we dressed for business. Some of technical guys complained. They didn’t understand.  Somewhere along the line, casual dress become the “in thing”. I have nothing agains business casual. But there’s a big difference between the CEO / CIO wardrobe Baez is describing, and that of the average technology sales person. Faded, logo-polo shirts will never impress the CIO.  It definitely gives the message,  “I work with IT.”

4. Get training. This is my favorite one. On my free training webinar yesterday I made a point of this. The reseller industry is terrible when it comes to training. Companies like Cisco and HP are spending more than your company makes in revenue in a year on sales training initiatives. I know because I’ve been hired more than once by these companies to train their sales people on meeting with executives to discuss technology.

But look at the resellers. Most of your training comes from the manufacturer – and it’s all product. It’s not the kind of training manufactures give their sales people. So while they are investing millions internally to ramp up sales, they are giving you “non-sales training” – product training.

But don’t blame them. It’s not there responsibility to make you into a great sales person. They expect you to be great. From there they can equip you with the technical details and assume you’ll sell it.

Not only does Baez recommend training, he also encourages these executives to attend conferences, and hire a coach. He has a coach!  Why? Because coaching works.

If you want to ramp up your game – take note. You need training, conferences, books, and coaching.  Even if you pay for it. If it’s good training, you’ll double your money in no time. If not, find a better program and continue to invest. You’ll get your money back when you hit the right program.

© 2014, David Stelzl




DemandGenLogoWhat Happened to the Biggest Attack In History?

Last Thursday I was wondering where the FBI and NSA are; today I’m wondering where CNN and WSJ are.  Googling this attack today, I found just a couple of posts; none from any major news networks.  Does that mean it’s all resolved, or not real, or what?

On Friday WSJ mentioned that this might be overstated or old news all rolled up into one number.  But surely a small security Boutique in Wisconsin (Hold) doesn’t own this whole issue.

On August 5th, Symantec featured a blog post stating, “The New York Times has reported the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials by a Russian crime ring. These hackers reportedly amassed 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses from 420,000 websites through botnets (computers that have been infected with and controlled by a computer virus). The sites ranged from small sites to larger household names. Many of the targeted sites are still vulnerable.”

This is the last post they show, so perhaps they don’t know any more either.  Does that mean you can’t use the sound bites from this on your next sales call? No. Until we know more, it’s safe to assume that this type of thing is certainly possible, and that companies are in much bigger trouble than they realize. And it’s still a sound bite supported by credible news sources.  Just understand, if you get challenged by IT, that the news is somewhat sketchy.

Here’s a great sound bite from the above link: “Roughly 39% (2.76B) of the world’s population of 7.1 billion uses the Internet.” and 1.2 billion were compromised in some way according to the New York Times report.

Remember, sound bites don’t sell anything…however they are a critical part of the sales process. You can read more about this in the free version of The House & the Cloud << Download it here! 

Also, I will be talking more about this in a complementary sales training program being presented on August 12th – 4:00 PM ET.  It’s free to technology resellers – but you must register to attend.  << Click to register!

Hopefully we’ll get some clarification on this attack over the next few days – After just about every major news network reported on this global disaster, they should be responsible and follow up with either – more info, or “We jumped the gun – false alarm.

© 2014, David Stelzl

Russian Hackers Steal 1.2 Billion IDs

This is a Big Hack…Something to Create a Briefing From

Have you read The Challenger Sale yet?

Everyone is talking about this book – sales organizations see the wisdom in what Matthew Dixon is saying…in case you’re not familiar with it – education or an educational message with unexpected revelations is central to the successful sales call.

What’s missing from the book are the topics that work – that’s because the Challenger Sale’s model is a generic sales book. If you look back at The House & the Cloud, a book I published in 2007, you’ll see a clear picture of what the Challenger sales process would look like if you were going after technology sales…

What does this have to do with the Russian Hack?

According to the New York Times Article – “A gang of Russian hackers appears to have amassed a stockpile 1.2 billion usernames and passwords as its members roamed the Internet targeting online users, according to a new report from a private security company.”

As the video indicates (see above), it’s funny we have not heard much from the Government – NSA, or FBI on this. Rather we have this little report from Hold in Wisconsin.

Watch the video…I’ll keep tabs on this and provide some updates.

But here’s the point – This is the type of news you want to create your briefings from.  If you’re planning on doing a lunch & learn type event in the fall, now is the time to be setting up your invitations, and this is the type of headline you’re looking for. If you are just going out on prospecting calls, the same is true. You can follow the old Solution Selling model and ask everyone what is keeping them up at night, or you can come in with something a little more interesting.

To find out exactly how to leverage this and other hot security topics in your prospecting, be sure to sign up for my upcoming training online – August 12th.  It’s free for Resellers…so get signed up!

Here’s the link to get a seat <<< Sign up now.

© 2014, David Stelzl


How to Win the Negotiation

Here’s a great exercise – a Lesson on Winning

Will I win the negotiation? I wrote an entire chapter on this in my most recent book, From Vendor to Adviser. I don’t know if I’ll win this one, but I’m still hopeful.

Most of us negotiate everyday, but most of the people I work with have little experience in winning. I hear people getting angry, upset, frustrated, etc. None of these are winning tactics.

This morning I am in my weekly Monday Morning Kickoff Meeting. I start the week, every week, just like this. I look at metrics, my business plan, top accounts, upcoming events, and my Quarterly goals.  I’m planning for my week.

Part of my Monday ritual is to check over my banking transactions, reconciling and looking for anything out of the ordinary. I took my Mastery Group to the Chinese Restaurant last weekend during a business planning and strategy weekend and they double charged me…but the manager also informed me of the mistake right after dinner asking me to make sure he didn’t double charge.  So I know that will get cleared up as soon as my office manager puts a call into them.

That’s When Things Fell Apart

But then there’s this service charge on my bank account that should not be there. By having a business account linked to a Merchant account at my bank, that charge should not be there.  So I called the bank, and that’s where my morning started going downhill.  I quickly reminded myself, this is a negotiation – don’t get upset, work the process.

My 19 year old son is right beside me working on his business. But I can tell he’s listening in by the smirk on his face. He’s wondering if his dad will win this one…

The bank people were very nice. I quickly got them to agree that they told me I would not have this service charge. But it turns out the person who sold me this package was wrong. What’s the solution? The bank will credit my account, make a note on the account, and then send me over to Bank of America Merchant Services to cancel that service.

It is amazing how friendly the Bank of America rep is compared to Bank of America Merchant Services Gal. She’s a terrorist of some kind I think. It’s not her fault and she can’t do a thing for me – but she has the attitude like “I’m in control here.”  There’s a $500 fee to cancel the merchant services agreement, or $100/yr fee to keep it and not use it.  Well $100 won’t break the bank, but the principle here is important. I really want to cancel at this point – and I want the fee waved. So what do I do.

Practice This – Negotiation and Moving Up.

I’ve done this many times – when I do it without making a mistake, I usually win. But in this case, it looks like it might be a hard one.  The jury is still out – but here’s where we are.

1. The first woman on the line, whose name I forget, just kept repeating the policy. My first mistake was not writing down her name. You always want to know who said what along the way.  About 10 minutes into this volley, I remembered to ask her if she had the authority to wave the fee. She did not. As soon as I asked that question it was easy.  I apologized for wasting her time and asked for her supervisor. There’s no reason to continue talking to her.

2. Bonnie was next on the line. She is the Account Specialist over there at Bank of America Merchant Services. I was told by the first woman that if anyone could wave the fee, it would be Bonnie. I tried to review the case with her, but she quickly said she could not wave the fee but could discount it by 50%. That might be okay for some, but I don’t consider it a win. After all, my contract ends in two years so why not just pay the $99 annual fee for two years and be done with it. This time, rather than debating the issue, I simply asked her for her supervisor.

3. After about 10 minutes, Jessie, the supervisor was on the line.  She also offered the $250, but didn’t seem to understand my problem. Since Merchant Services is not actually Bank of America, they don’t have to cooperate. It’s really BOA’s fault, but only Merchant Services can release me from the contract. At this point I clarified with her – “Do you have the authority to wave this fee.” She simply said no. At this point I simply apologized for wasting her time and asked for her supervisor…Dale.

4. I am now waiting for Dale to call back…it’s a 24 to 48 hour process….Talk about real time customer service.  I’m sure Dale is busy since no one in the lower ranks is able to do anything.

At this point I put another call into the bank to explain this whole mess – to see if they can apply some pressure from there side.  They promised to work on it and get back to me by close of business.

There are a couple of things to learn from this mess.

- First, I am still wondering if the “Policy” is written down somewhere. How is it that the bank made this mistake and seemed to not charge me for months, and then suddenly the change…still need to get to the bottom of that one.

- Arguing with customer service reps who are not empowered is a waste of time…but think how much it is costing this organization to escalate these issues up the ladder. Companies really should empower people to make a decision.  Maybe not the first level – she should have offered the 50% deal.  But I am 4 levels up now…Even US Airways was easier to deal with when I had a seat issue a few years back.

- Use these opportunities to build your endurance, make a good case, not get angry, and be willing to keep going higher. It’s great practice.

I’ll let you know what happens…in the mean time, I am not processing credit cards through Bank of America Merchant Services.  I have two other providers who are both easier to deal with.  If you have an opportunity to choose Bank of American Merchant Services, think again. There’s someone out there who is more customer friendly than they are.


© 2014, David Stelzl

P.S. I wonder if these people monitor social media.

Reserve a seat for my new upcoming online training – it’s free for all Reseller Technology Sales people! <<Register


The Power of Video Marketing

How many executives will watch this video vs. your standard corporate presentation?

This is the infomercial…while it’s not direct marketing, it does advertise Deloitte in a powerful way. Prakash is the expert here, talking about relevant things to executive management, that directly relate to the services his organization provides. And they have a link to it in the Wall Street Journal!

This is a sales person marketing. Anyone can do this. Whether you work for the SMB reseller or the nationwide firm. Chances are your marketing department is not doing this – but any sales person can create a YouTube interview on the fly. I’ve done many interviews like this with my clients as a way of reaching out to prospects. They’re easy to create and more interesting than your company Power Point.  Why aren’t we doing more of this.

Sales people need to learn how to prospect…I have a great new training program coming up on this subject on August 12th. It’s free – but you need to register to get a seat.  I’ll be discussing some great new strategies like this one – strategies that will help you attract new prospects and convert them to customers quickly. This is especially easy in the security and managed services space.

Get a Seat at my New Online Training Program – August 12th at 4:00 PM << Register!

A Few Things to Notice About This Video…

1. Prakash is a security guy – I don’t care what technology you sell. Security has the power to enhance your value proposition, attract executives, and put you in front of other opportunities because it’s urgent.

2. Notice Prakash’s use of sound bites! I talk a lot about sound bites and how to use them in The House & the Cloud – And in the 2nd edition, due out shortly, you’ll find an entire chapter dedicated to this topic. There’s more to it than you might think – but there’s power in using sound bites correctly. Just listen to the number one radio talk show in the world. Whether you like Rush Limbaugh or not, he’s got a following you can’t touch and he knows how to use sound bites.

3. Did you hear the word DETECTION? In The House & the Cloud I argue that detection is the missing element in most organizations. It’s not just detection – but a detection that provides intelligence. Several of my clients are in the business of selling security intelligence to the enterprise.  But every company needs it…I believe this will be central to the future successful technology provider – especially in the managed services business.

4. Finally, who is the host? Prakash opens, thanking her for inviting him to be on the show.  But who is she? The point is, it doesn’t matter. It could be FOX or CNN but it’s not. You don’t need CNN to do this. You can do it right in your office or over Google+ Hangouts as I have done in several recent interviews.

Don’t forget, we’ll be talking sales strategy in my all new upcoming online training on August 12th. Make sure you have a seat!

Reserve your seat here and find out how to multiply the success of your prospecting efforts << Sign Up Here


© 2014, David Stelzl


What Happens When the Entire IT Infrastructure is Taken Down?

Days after IT said “they have it covered…”

Well, the article didn’t say IT had it covered, but I bet if we talk to the sales people calling on Canada’s Research and  Technology Agency, they’re getting push back on security sales, budgets, and more important initiatives. At least until now.

In case you didn’t see the article earlier this week announcing the attack, there were more details in the paper this morning.  In my book The House & the Cloud I talk about the importance of sound bites – here’s a few you might want to know before heading out to your client meetings this morning.

Today’s WSJ article brings out some devastating news…This organization, responsible for innovation and research, had to completely shut down! Imagine the financial impact to any one of your clients – big or small.  And then to rebuild the entire IT infrastructure! How much will that cost? And if this were a private sector company with a large customer base…

Well, here are the sound bites to give you the bottom line.  Note the last one on Heartbleed. This was mentioned as an aside, but many have asked me about data loss due to Heartbleed…the answer is YES. People did lose data.


  • Canada’s research and technology agency recently experienced a cyberattack by “a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor”.
  • This organization is saying – it will be forced to rebuild its entire information technology infrastructure – estimated a 1 year effort.
  • What are the after: scientific research and innovation.
  • The attack was so significant that the only alternative was to shut down the entire system.
  • HEARTBLEED NOTE: “This comes less than four months after Canada’s tax authority temporarily shut down online tax-filing services after the discovery of a system breach related to the Internet security flaw known as the Heartbleed bug. Canadian police later charged a Canadian college student with stealing confidential taxpayer data by exploiting the flaw.”

If you have access to the WSJ, here’s the entire article:

© 2014, David Stelzl

P.S. Do you have a copy of The House & the Cloud?  It’s one of the only books I know of on how to sell security…get it free in PDF format right here…(CLICK).