Archives For selling

The Average Security Sale Is A Commodity Sale Too

Security is always in the news, and generally ranked high on the company initiatives list.

For ten years I’ve been encouraging resellers to put more focus on security – urgent security issues just seem to move people to buy faster than anything else…

Is SECURITY a good place to put more focus?

Most of the sales reps I know sell security appliances, but avoid higher-end security sales—a truism for both the manufacturer and reseller sides. Gross profits tend to be incremental and relatively low. Something obviously isn’t working on the reseller side.

Get The House & the Cloud – The eBook on Mastering the Security Sale.

Security Appliances Lead to Small Commissions

If you sell security appliances, you’ve likely noticed stiff competition can delay a sale by 9 or more months. You may be able to take your family out for a fast-food meal with your commission check,  depending on your brand name, the brands you carry as a reseller and your product lines’ margins. You’re frequently asked to place an evaluation product onsite, using free installation services to get it up and running. Either way, the manufacturer claims the product installs “in minutes,” so there really isn’t much consulting business for this product, anyway. This hurts both the manufacturer (on the channel development side) and the reseller, who lives on gross profit. You conclude this may not be the right place to focus.

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Early in my career I was a security presales consultant…whenever security came up in a sales meeting they would immediately call me. But too often the resulting meeting would turn into a feature/function battle over appliance brands. Months of debate to close a small appliance sale.

How to Multiply Your Commissions

The House & the Cloud – 2nd edition is a book of hope…and it’s almost ready for print. These issues are a symptom of treating security as a point product.

By the end of my book I hope you’ll understand why every client has a security need—and, by fulfilling this need, you can produce significant profits, regardless of your technology niche or the market you’re calling upon.  In my opinion, when security is approached correctly, it becomes highly profitable, a powerful door opener, and something that is definitely not a commodity sale.

On a recent trip to Chicago, I ran into Steve, an alumnus from one of my Making Money w/ Security workshops. When I say him, I could tell he was happy to see me. He simply said: “I just turned an 80K opportunity into an 800K sale using the principles you taught us in your security workshop!” Many of these principles are in the first edition…

It’s not hard to sell security, but it does require a different approach—one you may not be used to taking. In the end, The House & the Cloud will give you a winning strategy for selling virtually any product or service by tying it to security.

Get the first edition Free right here – and I’ll be sure to notify you when the next edition is finally printed!

Send me the First Edition of The House & the Cloud!

© 2014, David Stelzl


P.S.  Learn the Secret of Turning Prospects into Customers – get my latest Special Report Free (CLICK).


Mar-Cisco-SingaporeI’m back from my week in Singapore.  Singapore is one of those cities that is just great to visit – the food is great, the city is clean and easy to navigate (as long as you have a driver), and the hotels are clean and comfortable…here is just one highlight from my trip…

Kern, the taxi driver who picked me up last Tuesday, was exceptional…and offers a great example of the power in, what we have come to know as, The Perfect Greeting.

The Perfect Greeting

Getting into his cab that morning I was reminded of some reading I had done just before getting ready for work – a reminder to offer a perfect greeting. In our homeschool curriculum, one of the things we have been working on is, what we call, the perfect greeting - a greeting that expresses enthusiasm.  So rather than mumbling, “Morning….” like most do after staying up to watch late night TV, we are working on expressing a spirit of excitement and anticipation as we interact with others.

Engaging in Conversation

The perfect greeting let’s people know you are happy to see them and genuinely interested in their lives.  It invites conversation and friendship.  And it often creates an opportunity to meet a need.  Right at the start we hit it off with an update of the Singapore happenings.  I was on my way to class in the Changi Business park, just down the road from Changi Airport.  Though I had been there before, I learned through the ensuing conversation that I didn’t have my Singapore pronunciation right on the word Changi, along with a few other words that were going to be useful as I began my day.  Kern filled me in.

From there we moved through various topics from business to religion, family, politics, and a host of subjects that kept us going for the next 40 minutes as Kern navigated us through the morning rush hour. It turned out that simply by offering this perfect greeting I was had moved from surface chit chat to engaging at a much deeper level.  Through our conversation I was then able to offer some insights into some areas that were going to be helpful to Kern – something I had not anticipated.  This is the very definition of Trusted Adviser.

When we arrived he simply said, “No charge, I was honored to serve you this morning.”  Wow – no charge after 40 minutes of driving? Unheard of.  Well, it get’s better.

That afternoon Kern was right on time to fetch me from work.  As we headed back through the rush hour traffic, our conversation picked up where we had left off.  30 minutes later we arrived at the hotel and Kern again said, “There is no charge – I was honored to serve you and would like to serve you as long as you are in Singapore.”    And sure enough he did.  He drove me back and forth through my couple of days of training at no charge. Why?

Servant Leadership

Sales is about serving.  It’s the first step in customer service.  One of the most often neglected sales skills is simply the greeting – in fact, it’s not really a skill, but rather a demonstration of character (or lack of character).  How often are you asked the question, “What do you do?”  How often does it lead to conversation, friendship, and even a desire on that other person’s part to help you or engage with you on a new level?  The answer is, “Not often.”  This is just one of the many things I was teaching in my sales training class in Singapore.  I was pleasantly surprised to have a real time illustration to share with the class on how a person can offer a simple greeting, that then leads to conversation, friendship, and a chance to serve that person.  From there, there is no telling what will come of of it.  Try greeting people today in a way that makes them feel special and offers you an opportunity to serve them in some simple way, and see what happens.

©   2013, David Stelzl

P.S. I will be teaching some of the concepts in my Making Money w/ Security Virtual Workshop – coming at the end of this month!

lockI’ve just announced new dates for the summer Making Money w/ Security (and Managed Services) online workshop.  This class has really taken off over the past year with average attendance in the 20s…and the reports back from those who have attended has been very encouraging.

Mark down: July 31-August 2!

I started doing these workshops online to allow smaller companies, not able to host a live workshop, to attend.  This also eliminates any travel requirements, and by scheduling over three days, you only need two hours each day to attend, leaving the rest of the day free to work on your business opportunities.

If you’re in sales or marketing you should try to attend one of these.  This is not a basic sales class – I assume you know how to sell.  This is more about knowing where the security opportunities are – both in large and small accounts, reaching decision makers (even in new accounts where you don’t have a relationship), and building justification.  I routinely have people call me to tell me they’ve multiplied a simple product opportunity in to something major or closed a deal in one day following an assessment.  Last year one of my attendees called to let me know he landed his first million dollar deal using these principles – and another reseller went from unmeasurable results with lunch & learns to a 71% conversion rate – attendees to an assessment.

You can learn more here: – as well as sign up.  If you’ve been through my coaching program be sure the select the Mentor Program Alumni rate!  Seating is limited and I have selling out of the past three quarters, so don’t wait.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Don’t ignore security if you work in the SMB market…I continue to see smaller resellers focusing on managed services, but neglecting the security side of this program.  Don’t do it.  Managed services contracts justified on security remain the most stable contracts for long-term recurring revenue.

In this attached article, Cyber Thieves Hit Owners (From the Wall Street Journal), the writer shows how small businesses are often held responsible for financial losses caused by hackers…in other words, while you as an individual can usually recover by placing blame on the bank, it is only on some recent cases that the bank was held responsible for small business losses.  While the writer takes the positive side, seeing a trend to help small business, we are not there yet.

Every project should incorporate security, and every reseller should assume their SMB clients are clueless about security.  That’s just the way it is, and this article says exactly that.  Consider these sound bites from the link above:

  • “The proportion of those attacks that were explicitly focused on small business rose to more than 30%, compared with 18% at the end of December 2011, according to its findings.”
  • “In the first half of 2012, the total number of targeted attacks on organizations rose to an average of 151 a day during May and June.”

Make sure you have security built into your discovery process – look for weak end-node security, poorly configured firewalls, unstructured data outside the firewall, unsecured web applications, and personal devices full of sensitive data (such as Smart phones lacking passwords and encryption).

© 2012, David Stelzl

Photo Taken By Hannah Stelzl

It’s my favorite time of year – spending time with family, listening to great Christmas music, attending concerts and Christmas programs, and looking back over the year…Merry Christmas!  (Yes I am a day late – it’s been a busy week!).  If you didn’t get a copy of From Vendor to Adviser in your stocking this year – we still have a few at:

© 2011, David Stelzl

Conversion Rates

November 16, 2011 — Leave a comment

Recent Conference Photo

What is a conversion rate?  It’s the percentage of attendees or prospects involved in an event that choose to buy as a result of the event.  It should be the focus of every event; sadly, most are leaving thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars behind as they engage in demand generation activities.   One of the best next steps is the assessment – however the assessment must be approached with conversion in mind.

I was talking with a recent attendee of my online Making Money with Security workshop, this morning.  As we walked through some of his assessments from past engagements (mostly paid), we were able to identify some of the elements that lead to conversion.  In one case, a well written assessment led to zero project work.  This was a fee-based assessment, and issues were uncovered, however, still no follow-on business.  In the second assessment, also a fee-based assessment, remediation work was sold.  But it didn’t stop there. This client’s business has continued for over ten years! What was the difference?  The first two pages.  The first assessment contained no relevant executive level information.  It was not asset focused.  The second had a large box on page 1, following the cover page, that read, “Urgent Issues Found!”  No wonder the managers of that firm continued on with the remediation phase.  Urgency is a major factor in increasing conversion rates.
© 2011, David Stelzl

Today we finished Day 3 of the online Making Money with Security workshop – using an actual assessment sent to me by one of the attendees, we were able to walk through the process companies should go through to create the perfect assessment document and deliverable/presentation-one that will lead to more business.

By observing the information and writing style of the assessment, we were able to ascertain how the assessment might have been conducted, who would have been involved in the assessment process, and how the findings were put together to create justification to move forward.  Here is what we found:

1. Fees – given the size and detail of the assessment, the seller probably could have sold it for more.  However, most assessments are sold to IT people who have no liability.  Creating justification for more expensive assessments requires asset owner involvement, and a belief that things might not be as secure as originally thought.  On there other hand, there are ways to conduct complementary assessments that can result in even great long term gross profit.

2. Interviews – the discovery process was probably limited to more technical people, and did not involve business people, top performers who use mission critical data, or executives who ultimately carry liability for both the systems and data their companies depend on.

3. Executive Summery – Like most executive summaries I read, this one did not speak to executives.  Instead, it was a summary targeting a technical audience.  It was called an executive summary simply because it was a summary…it’s unlikely an executive will read it.

4. Recommendations – most of the findings were written in a passive format, stating that certain Trojans or other common attack vectors could gain access to data.  This rarely moves a buyer.  It’s like saying, eating fatty foods might contribute to heart disease.  No one will act unless the doctor says, “You’re on the verge of a heart attack!”  Every company has urgent issues, but rarely are they called out with passion and urgency.

5. The seller’s involvement – It appears that this document was put together without the involvement of the rep.  As a result, it will be difficult for the rep to own the information and lead the charge for remediation.  Great sales people are trained and skilled in selling – how can the remediation phase be sold without the rep leading the way?

By going through this process, we were able to redefine the roles of the seller and consulting team, reformat the assessment document, and talk through the proper delivery process to move forward with both remediation and managed services contracts.  The next step – each attendee will have a one hour private coaching session allowing us to make specific applications to their business using the tools and strategies learned over the past week.  Stay tuned for our next online class, and join the success.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Last night I was watching a video of Daniel Webster, former Florida State Senator, on leadership.  In it he describes 5 key elements of leadership that helped him achieve some remarkable things…before reviewing these  you should know, Daniel Webster ran for office unopposed for 28 years, was appointed house speaker against major opposition, and retells one account where he was flying somewhere to sign up to run for another term and while exiting the plane, ran into a man who introduced himself as someone getting ready to run for the state senate.  When he learned that we was talking to Mr. Webster, he turned around, got back on the plane and flew home.  Here is what he said:

Commit to:

1. Invest time in other’s agendas, helping them acheive success, rather than focusing on yourself.

2. Expect no more from others than you are willing to do yourself.  Never say, “That’s not my job.”

3. Give up the right to be in charge – focus on your own responsibilities rather than always pointing out other’s short-comings.

4. Accept responsibility – give up on expectations.

5. Earn the right to be heard.

Some wise words from someone who continues to win over their opponents.

© 2011, David Stelzl

There’s a common fault among many who sell…it goes like this:

Several opportunities look good, and so you start focusing on them, and counting on them, no longer prospecting very much.  It’s like you’ve somehow come over the hump and things look good, so you let up some.  Then the truth kicks in.  Not all of these deals are real, and so you find yourself with much less in the pipeline than expected.  Constant activity means, constantly generating new ideas, new leads, new connections, new-something that leads to business…

Of course there are the right activities, and there are the wrong ones.  Those who get up last minute, jump in the car, arrive at the office, and immediately open their email and start reading and responding, are, in my opinion, missing the most important time of the day.  Franklin Covey calls it Planning and Solitude.  This may not seem like activity, yet it is.  It’s a time of stepping away from your business and looking over it as though you were flying over your field, reviewing what’s there, what needs attention, and where to focus.  Every morning I do this before diving in, to make sure my efforts are spent on the highest value tasks first.

Finally, there is a strategy.  I came across this in a recent Wall Street Journal article – something I was actually doing, but hadn’t really looked at it like this.  The writer writes about a recent trip he took with his daughter.  They were working on times tables while flying across country, memorizing them.  After about twenty minutes she just couldn’t focus.  She was getting things wrong that he felt she knew.  Be he kept pushing.  When they finished, she was on to other school work and was working along happily, accomplishing a great deal.  Why the change in performance.  Her ability to concentrate on one topic was limited, but as soon as she switched to another, she had renewed energy.  Here is what I do…in the morning I write down three major things I am working on – e.g.  selling to a group I have planned to target, writing up a speech, and perhaps, putting together a workbook for an upcoming training class.  All three are important, and all three take more than an hour to complete.  As the day goes on, and as I work on selling for instance, I reach a point of saturation (sometimes sooner than later with certain tasks), and so I switch to one of the other two.  If I simply try to push through on one task, my productivity goes down, but if I switch, I feel a sense of renewed energy.  And so, through the day, I am switching every 30 – 60 minutes to one of the three important tasks.  In addition, I may have some administrative things to take care of – low priority, but still necessary.  For these I will simply create a Personal-Meeting mid-afternoon for a fixed block of time (say 1 hour), and knock them out.  Then, back to my three top priorities.  Try this…and keep the activity strong and highly focused on those things that generate revenue.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Marketing Requires Passion

October 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

Everyone wants one!

Passion drives the sale.  If you’re not passionate about what you are selling, change jobs.  As I prepare for next week’s Venture Tech Network conference in Las Vegas, it occurs to me that no matter how great your questions are, your references, the technology you sell, or the team behind you, if you don’t look and sound enthusiastic, the sale is dead.

I was reading a book on Disciplines over the weekend which stated, “Only 10% of employees like their job.”  10%!  That means in a group of ten people, nine don’t like what they spend most of their day doing.  This is sad.  How can these people perform at peak levels if they don’t enjoy what they do?  In fact they can’t.  The chapter went on to say that most employees are not performing well.

I can imagine that in a factory setting or some monotonous manual work regime, that the job can still be done with some level of quality, but not sales, and not marketing.  If you don’t love what you sell, move on to something else.  On the other hand, if you can find the excitement in what you do, attitude outsells skills and features every time.

How do you do this?  In my coming book, From Vendor to Adviser, I talk about people groups; the importance of figuring out the people group you want to serve in the work you do.  When you love the people you call on, work takes on a whole new meaning.  When you see your people group’s situation improving because of the value you bring them, everything changes.  Try this, stop focusing on the products you sell, and consider really taking an interest in the people you serve.  Discover their needs at a personal and business level, and see how you can remove stress from their lives by improving how they conduct business.  This brings much greater fulfillment than simply selling a widget.

© 2011, David Stelzl