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This morning I am preparing to speak to Cisco channel managers, account managers, and channel marketing. The topic – Event Marketing. 

Challenging Presuppositions

Years ago Tim Ferriss, Author of The 4-Hour Work Week figured out how to accomplish more in a few hours than most of his sales colleagues could accomplish in an entire day.  How did he do it? After hours upon hours of unproductive cold calling he decided to step back and analyze the process.  The gatekeepers were always getting in his way – no one would let him speak to the decision makers.  So instead of making his calls during work hours, he simply moved to 8:00 AM, calling for 30 minutes, and then picking up again at 6 PM for another 30 minutes.  In no time he was closing more meetings than any of his peers. 

Tim shares a story in his book of how he won the Chinese kickboxing National Championship by studying the rules and changing the game to create an advantage.  He writes in his book, ” Sports evolve when sacred cows are killed, when basic assumptions are tested! The same is true in life and in lifestyle.” Tim’s process was revolutionary – but senior management has caught on, and in my recent CIO meetings I understand that they don’t want to hear from you before their administrative assistant shows up.  So now what?

Traditional Lunch & Learns

This past week I spoke with two different manufacturers about lunch & learns.  In both cases my clients – both resellers, were working on funding for events they are planning.  In both cases the vendor sponsor was skeptical about sponsoring me to speak. 

My events are different.  I counsel my reseller clients not to let vendors do the speaking, and I insist on inviting executives.  “That’s not the way we usually do it.”  Both companies made this statement…but what are the results of the typical event? 

It’s like Tim Ferriss’ cold calling.  Traditional lunch & learns are drawing small audiences of technical people, reporting high attrition rates (like 50% of those signing up never actually get there), and no measurable return on investment. The measure of success I hear all too often is, “How many attended?”  That’s like measuring sales by asking, “How many calls did you make?” – what does it matter.  If you don’t generate any gross profit, what’s the point?  And if you managed to make your entire quota on one call, why do you need to make 100 more calls?  A second call might get you to your accelerators (assuming your compensation plan has this feature built in.)

Changing the Rules

Why am I so stubborn about how the event happens?  Several years ago I started challenging the assumptions.  Why does the vendor have to speak?  Does it lead to more sales? Don’t get me wrong here,  I don’t care if they speak – but let’s not speak just to have a role in the event, or just to feel important.  The only question everyone should be asking is, “What is the purpose of having the event and are we achieving that purpose?”  From what I can tell, there are two reasons to have an event:

1. To reignite old buyer relationships.

2. To create new buyer relationships.

From the reseller’s perspective, these are the only two things that really matter.  Traditional cold calling doesn’t work – my clients all agree.  Tim Ferriss had a great idea, but it too has lost it’s savor.  Lunch & learn events with IT people have been around for ages, but they aren’t producing.  Why? Because technical people don’t have any money. 

So I started looking at the buying process.  The seller needs time in front of a decision maker, but there has to be a compelling reason for that meeting.  Decision makers are business people. They spend money for one of two reasons: to make more money, or to mitigate risk.  That’s it – simple, just two reasons.  Then I started looking at events in general.  What makes one event a major success, while another has almost no attendees?  Why do some events lead to 1000 people making major life changes, while other events lead to no measurable change at all?  It’s the speaker – and the motivation they provide to make a commitment, change something, or move in some direction.  It’s a conversion process, and there’s a simple formula to make it all happen.

So 10 years ago I joined the National Speakers Association and started studying great speakers.  It’s not the product they sell (Every motivational speaker worth their fee has a book or DVD set.)  If it was, they would simply set up an online store and go on vacation while the money rolled in.  They can’t do that. Most speakers sell their products at the conference or seminar.  Their book sales online are mostly unmeasurable.  But at the conference, they often sell enough product to double their speaker fee income.  It’s the speaker’s passion, combined with a life changing message, delivered to an audience that has the authority to make the commitment or accept the challenge. 

This morning I’ll be sharing the basic principles of event marketing success.  Why would anyone want to continue making dozens of unproductive cold calls five days a week when they can sell to 30 or 40 people at one time in one hour?  I have found that with the right message, at least 60%, and on average 75% of the audience will respond to the right message.  If the right conversion product (assessment or strategy session) is offered, they’ll sign up.  This leads to multiple meeting opportunities.  If you don’t close business after all of this, you can’t blame it on the event – but you are way ahead of where you would be on a cold call.

© 2013, David Stelzl

 

Lexington Airport

Lexington Airport

Yesterday I met with over 60 business leaders in Lexington Kentucky, representing more than 40 companies, along with NetGain Technologies and representatives from Cisco Systems…I shared with them some of my major concerns in the area of cyber security for the coming 12 months.  Studies show that over 80% of small business leaders are not concerned with security, feel they are pretty safe, and consider the Internet a critical part of their IT infrastructure.  Yet, nearly the same number have no formal security plans, have no way of detecting an intrusion, and worse, 90% of Visas reported cyber incidences come out of small business.

At the end of our session, NetGain extended an offer to provide a some simple tests that would allow their guests to see if they have been under attack.  The FBI tells us that it is often more than 14 months before this type of intrusion comes to light – often too late to recover. Some simple diagnostic tests can often prevent a disaster down the road.  Just about every attendee agreed that this was a necessary next step in the right direction – over 70% scheduled right there in the meeting and will be conducting these tests over the coming three weeks.  Several of the larger firms also committed to getting more user awareness training into the hands of their end-users.  This is by far the biggest point of vulnerability and must be addressed by business if they plan to protect their data.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Snow in ChicagoWell in Denver earlier this week I was out and about with just a suite jacket…it was close to 60 degrees during the day.  That was the first half of my week.  On to Chicago, and it’s definitely winter (as you can see from my snowy car picture).

Today I’ll be working with a company on their security business strategy – their go-to-market plan to grow security sales in 2013.  Hopefully you have one of these…if not, it’s not too late.  But don’t go into February without one.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal answers the question on how relevant this business direction is: “Security is moving from a functional IT area, often below the paygrade of CIOs, to strategic importance at the highest levels of corporations.  IT security’s rise from being a functional area to a board level concern is maybe the fastest I’ve ever seen,”  say’s Thomas Sanzone, senior vice president of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc…so is this a smart direction?  Yes!

I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Bob Bragdon of CSO magazine earlier this week (in Denver), and he shared with us that only about half of Fortune 2000 executives belief they are well equipped in their security strategy. He then showed us a study CSO conducted, showing that really, only about 8% of them actually have something in place – the rest are in big trouble.  In an article I referenced last week, Wall Street reported on security, quoting  cybersecurity experts who believe that every major company in the US has been infiltrated by hackers – the new wave of threats, according to Bragdon, is more focused on stealing intellectual capital than credit card fraud.  Other countries are slowly shifting us of our innovation and intellectual capital.  There is no one single incident big enough to lead us into a war, but if we don’t do something soon, we’ll find ourselves completely exposed and crushed in a market of copycats and cheap overseas products.  This is not good.  (Worse, they are in our DoD systems!)

In a recent meeting with the former CIO of a large Florida university system, who also served in the military working with intelligence, I was told  that, “Our country is behind in the area of cyberwarfare.”  Other countries are attacking – note the recent attacks on major banks in this country, yet we are unable to prove who is responsible.  “It’s no longer a 2-dimensional war” he said, “That’s all our military leadership really understands…”

So is security still relevant?  It’s probably more relevant today than it was 10 years ago when organized crime began raiding databases to steal credit card information.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Opportunity

Here’s an opportunity for Cisco resellers to gain some important insights on building pipeline through Demand Generation.  This Thursday at 9:30 EST (that’s November 29th, 2012), Cisco will be hosting a “Quick Hit Briefing” focusing on demand generation and marketing activities in the SMB/Commercial space.  Don’t miss this – if you haven’t seen my new book, Event Marketing, 7 Secrets to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns and Sales Events, I will be going through the major concepts in a free 45 minute webinar.  You can grab the eBook in advance right here (CLICK).

Quick Overview

If you are looking for new ways to grow your business in 2013, this is it.  Over the past 12 months I have conducted dozens of highly successful marketing programs with SMB focused resellers all over the country.  Most of these events have been well attended, with mostly decision maker audiences – even in the major metro areas.  The response has been incredible.  On average, 75% of these audiences are signing up for a “next step”, which might be a strategy session, assessment, or other compelling event.  A recent event I was involved in – in Chicago, turned up a 100% response – and yes, these were C-Level attendees.  The bottom line is, Events do work, if you know how to run them.  On Thursday I plan to explain exactly how they work.

Signing up

This event does require registration and is meant for Cisco resellers - so make sure you are on the reseller list before signing up.  A password will be required to access the session.  Looking forward to seeing you there – and thanks to Cisco for sponsoring this event.  Let’s get busy getting ready for 2013 – it’s right around the corner!

© 2012, David Stelzl

Event Marketing

We’ve all been to lunch & learn events…most of them seem to be a waste of time.  Rarely do I meet a reseller who can tell me their actual return on investment on these events. JMF (Joint Marketing Funds) is drying up for many companies simply because resllers have not produced the required results.  Yet, over the past 8 years, marketing events have produced more business than anything else I can point to – when done correctly.

Traditional selling has expensive sales people driving across town, and many times out of town, for a single meeting.  Half the day, and sometimes an entire day spent, just to find out the client is not ready, or is looking at a cheaper option.  There has to be a better way – an there is!

My Latest Book

This year I decided to take the last ten years of marketing event experience and boil it down into one simple ebook.  Clear steps of action, showing my readers exactly how to design an event that works.  The first section begins with a call to re-engineer the old-fashioned Lunch & Learn.  I redefine it, break it down to it’s core elements, and show how to reconstruct it.  Some of the things you’ll find:

  • Who to invite – but more importantly, how to get them there.  This is not theory – I’ll show you exactly how we are getting the right people to an event.  Imagine having your prospects come to you!
  • How to create an offer they can’t refuse.  There is only one thing an economic buyer will buy without consulting their IT department.  I’ll show you what it is and how to build it.
  • What to present.  I see these events with all kinds of presentations and speakers.  There are only a few things that will entice an executive to leave their office mid day…I’ll show you what to present, and how to present it.
  • Marketing – most of the event descriptions out there are boring and ineffective.  That’s because we are taking the wrong approach.  This book shows you how to market an event in a way that will grab the attention of business leaders.
  • I will show you how to guarantee three meetings with an economic buyer – how can one event guarantee three meeting?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
  • The follow up program is where your return on investment really comes in.  If you fail to do one important thing, your event will fail.  I will show you who to call, how to call them, and what steps to take.  More importantly, I’ll share with you a secret that will multiply your business far beyond any event you’ve ever seen.

But wait – there’s more.  I am also planning to conduct an online workshop using this material.  I want every reseller out their to get this.  I know their is a better way to approach the market.  This is my passion – to create something new; to  think outside the box.  My hope is that this book will inspire you to really grow your business this fall.  The book is nearly complete, and since this one is an ebook, I won’t have to wait on printers and proof copies.  Stay tuned…I’ll be announcing release dates shortly!

© 2012, David Stelzl

 

Order Now!

This week I am out traveling the midwest – it’s 100 degrees and climbing,…meanwhile I am taking every moment I can in the evenings to work on several great business opportunities….here’s a peek.

1. My Making Money w/ Security Class has been revamped to include more managed services selling as well as the great security selling strategies that have always been the core of the class.  Managed offerings are a big focus for everyone I talk to, so it’s all in there now.  The next class is almost full, and scheduled for August…you can read more here: http://stelzlmmsv.eventbrite.com/ – I hope to announce more classes later this year.

2. I’ve had my web  team set up a private forum for the mentor alumni group…so if you have been through my private mentor program (that would not include group coaching packages that are sometimes sold on the back of a training class), you will soon have access to this resource no matter how long ago you were in the coaching program – and it’s free.  I’ve opened it up to my mastermind group already – so we are adding content as we speak.

3. Which brings up my new mastermind program – not formally announced, but more coming on that.  I have one group in full swing right now (5 business owners), and other groups will be announced at some point later this year.  This is an opportunity to collaborate with the best and the brightest – people in similar positions working on the same things, where I will personally facilitate, help set goals and direction, and work with the team to develop new strategies for profit and client acquisition… as well as offerings and anything else that contributes to the long term success of that group’s business.

4. I am continuing on with some of the free educational webinars I started late last year.  For the third time, and by request, I am offering “Accelerating Managed Services Sales” in July on the 10th.  If you have not been to this, I highly recommend it.  You can sign up right here: http://stelzlms.eventbrite.com/  Other topics are coming.  If you have a particular topic you would like for me to cover, send it to me for consideration.

5. Finally, many have purchased the 5 Essential Topics for Moving from Vendor to Adviser… this has been a very popular audio series for those who have attended the Making Money w/ Security Workshops.   I have another series coming, building from the same book, From Vendor to Adviser, but covering 5 more essential topics.  These audio programs turn your car into a classroom…they should be out before year end, so stay tuned right here, and follow me on twitter at dstelzl and you’ll be one of the first to know.

© 2012, David Stelzl


© 2012, David Stelzl

I recently learned that resellers can access each others invoices online if they use a certain time billing system…it’s a security hole in the system that allows this.  That means that, if you use this software, your competition can see every invoice you have – at least as of yesterday (this may be fixed by now).  I came across this while working with some resellers who have been making inroads into the security space for SMB.  After discovering this, they are suddenly aware of just how big security is.  It’s one thing to work with clients on the subjective issue of being security – you have a virus, or you need encryption.  It’s a much bigger thing to realize your own digital assets are suddenly open to the entire world.

Security is real…suddenly the reseller technical people are seeing just how real a security issue can be.  Don’t miss this opportunity to understand what the president of a company looks like when he finds out his most important application is open to the world!  On the other hand, make sure you have the patch (as soon as it’s available).  If you don’t know what I am talking about you might want to contact me…

© 2012, David Stelzl

Back from South Dakota – we had about 70 attendees last night, mostly business owners and leaders from the local community.  About 90% of the companies represented signed up to have their security assessed…why?

Because the event was focused on their business and a growing need every attendee had in common.  This event had nothing to do with products, or the WHAT Golden West Technologies (The sponsoring VAR) sells.  It had everything to do with educating those who have worked hard to build businesses, and who want to keep those businesses going in the future.

This is the time to be talking about security…just this week government representatives and consultants have made statements in the Wall Street Journal saying things like, “Consider every one of our networks to be compromised”, “All we can do now is focus on preserving the data”, “We are losing the war with cyber criminals.”  I also read in Wall Street this week that business leaders tend to shy away from knowing too much…but with a compelling campaign encouraging them to take action, we had over 70 responses in just a couple of weeks.  5 or 6 had to cancel, but consider some of the average attrition rates at lunch & learn programs and you’ll see numbers like 50 and 60 percent.  This was a great event and more are needed just like it.  The business leaders need the education, and the solution providers need to take a more active role in helping business leaders understand the issues and why they need to be involved personally.  Last night was a perfect example of this in action.

© 2012, David Stelzl

 

Note: Here’s my Hertz rental car at the Rapid City Airport – If they had known that I have seven kids, they would have also known that I only know how to drive big vehicles…

It’s a great day in Rapid City, SD – I love this job because I love events like the one we are doing today.  Every business owner out there is working hard to build a successful company, and today is no different.  72 of these business owners and leaders are meeting today to gain insights on how to deal with information security as their business grows, and the threats increase.  As they focus on their customers and offerings, someone has to sort out the technology, and figure out how to maintain it – keeping it secure, up, and running smoothly.

A local solution provider in town is sponsoring this event – we’ve been preparing for this over the past few weeks, looking at who should attend, who will benefit, and how to best address the issues businesses are facing.  The exciting thing is, we have answers.  We have an understanding of what these companies are facing, and we’ve put together a plan to address it.  We have a way to show them the problem, a way to measure the effects it is having on their businesses, and a way to bring managed remediation to any issues that may exist.  It’s simple to do, compelling, and valuable to both the sponsor and the attendee.

This is what we do – the technology business is not about selling the next widget, or even maximizing profits – it’s about the people you are serving through it; in this case, small and medium business owners and managers. The profit is a measure of your success in carrying out the mission.  At the end of the day it’s a win/win proposition.

© 2012, David Stelzl