Archives For var

appleHow Quickly Are You Responding to Your Customer’s Needs…

Time is important. The way you view your customer’s time just might be the most important part of your offering. Three recent interactions over the past week underscore just how important this is.

Apple Has Great Support

I mentioned in a post the other day that my daughter had been contacted online by a fraudster offering support. She called me in before paying the fraudulent charge, but I still went to Apple to make sure we were doing the right thing.  Apple was easy to contact. My daughter’s system is not new. In fact, it’t time to upgrade. But contacting support was easy, fast, and free regardless of the date I made the purchase. Using the online chat software I had my answers in less than 5 minutes, and the instructions on what to do were easy to follow.

American Airlines Calls You Back

My airline travel was down last year due to more online programs – so I lost my chairman status (USAirways). As a chairman member I always got immediate service.  Now that I no longer have the privilege, I have to wait in line like everyone else when calling in with a problem or question.  Last week was my first call into the now merged AA and USAirways company.  While the wait time was over 15 minutes, the automated system did take my cell number and call me back.  This is a great service for support organizations that don’t have to give immediate assistance. Sure enough, about 30 minutes after I placed the call they called back. I was connected immediately without being tied to the phone listening to hold music and marketing announcements. MMS Blog Ad

Quickbooks Makes You Wait

On the other hand, I had a Quickbooks App issue this morning. My first contact was with a woman who didn’t really speak English. Make sure your people speak the language of the people you support. I’m okay with a slight accent – we get that between northern and southern US. Not a problem.  But this was “Broken Engrish”, and very hard to understand.

She must have asked me 3 or 4 times which version I was using. For some reason she didn’t understand me either. When we finally agreed that I was on a Mac using the App, she told me I needed to talk with the online support team. Before placing me on hold she informed me that Quickbooks does not allow the support team to call out.  So waiting was the only option.

18 minutes later I am on the phone with online support. When I told him I had a Mac with an App, he simply said, “You have to uninstall it and reinstall it. We don’t support the App.” When I complained that the first person should have told me that, he insisted that he had told her to tell me that on the phone. I’m sure he did, but for some reason she did not relay the message. He apologized for wasting half an hour of my day and we hung up.

Computer support is critical. Most of us spend the entire day doing something on a computer. If you’re in the managed services business your clients should be support contracts, not T&M, and the support should be nearly instantaneous.  If you support the security side of your client’s business (which is a must these days) your response time is even more important.  The good news is, fast, quality support is worth paying for when you make money using a computer.

© 2015, David Stelzl

virus blueWhy Urgent Issues On Your Security Assessment Report Don’t Sell The Next Step

Have you ever wondered why the client doesn’t jump on the chance to implement your recommendations when you complete an assessment?

One of the most frustrating things in the security business happens when you complete an assessment. It seems like at least 90% of the assessments I’ve been involved in or read the report from, have several urgent issues. Gartner and I both have stated that 80% of the security budget is spent on keeping people out, but in my book, The House & the Cloud, I make it clear that detection-response is the only strategy that works.  Yet, clients rarely implement the recommendations that come from these reports.  They pay to have them done, listen to your findings, and then move on to other things. Why?

What’s Really Urgent? Hint: It’s Not Old Equipment or Missing Patches

I was meeting with the President of a technology  reseller two weeks ago in a 6-Hats Strategy session, going over the assessement process.  This fall he’s signed up to do at least 15 assessments before year-end, but if they don’t convert to managed services contracts, he won’t be happy.  History shows us that only about 15% will convert to more business unless he changes something.MMS Blog Ad

As we went through the 6 Thinking Hats Brainstorming Session, his list included things like missing patches, open ports, and free or non-existant Anti-Virus software. These all sound urgent, but they’re not! Not unless you can tie these issues to something more concrete. For instance, if you’re assessment comes up with no Anti-Virus software (of course most companies today would have something for AV), but there’s no sign of malware, you’re going to have a hard time convincing the CFO or frugal business-owner to spend more money.  Same thing with outdated software or hardware. If there’s no sign of danger, they probably won’t move to remediate.

Assessment Sales Depend On Impact and Likelihood

If you want to sell the next step, you have to take the next step in the assessment process. This is clearly spelled out on page 194 – 199 in The House & The Cloud, 2nd Edition. The next step is looking for the issues that should exist when a company fails to do the right thing.  Symptoms are enough to get a response. You don’t need the deep dive technical  analysis on what a particular botware application is doing. If they have one, it’s bad even if a marketing company put it there. If the marketing company is able to install bots on a network, the bad guys can do it too. Don’t worry about what the bot is, just find it.

If the systems are missing security patches, look for evidence of tampering, foul play, or unauthorized activity.  Keep asking yourself, “So what” for each issue you find, and tie it to a business problem. Find evidence of that problem, and you’ll have justification.  Don’t just say – your port is open. No one cares.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. If you want to sell larger security deals, click the ad above and see if you qualify for a free seat through one of the many hardware vendors who sponsor this training!

Adding Security to Managed IT

Security is the most important part of your managed program.

Last Thursday I spoke to resellers in Atlanta, sponsored by Check Point Software.  This all day event included several important updates for resellers on what to consider in your managed program.  Keeping patches up-to-date and backing up data is important, but just about any reseller can do this.

What Small and Medium Size Businesses are Missing is the Ability to Detect Security Issues  

Following my session, was an excellent overview on how Check Point manages security at the end node. Small businesses are not going to stop their people from using their own phones and tablets for work (BYOD).  So how will these companies stop all the mobile device malware coming out?  This is a perfect role for the future SMB MSSP.  Can your company detect when a mobile device has been compromised? Are you able to help your clients make sure unauthorized users are not connecting to their wireless network? What about monitoring their IPS or correlating their events and providing reporting to show attacks you are blocking?  It’s all about intelligence. Helping small businesses (the businesses most targeted by today’s hackers) detect when someone is trying to access their data, and then responding to stop it.

It’s Not Just Technology – Marketing Science I Needed

In my session I showed how resellers should market and sell this. Not all business owners immediately see the need. As an example, the event I did last week in Richmond had over 30 attendees – every attendee (with the exception on one person who left early) signed up for an assessment provided by the hosting reseller. But I can tell you, not all of these attendees thought they had a need when we started the meeting. It was only after they heard the message.

This is the place to start.  These attendees where business level people, interested in keeping their businesses safe and growing. Assuming they are pretty safe, their focus is on profit and growth.

They may not all need more security, but the assessment process we are using is designed to uncover urgent issues such as compromised end nodes. If we don’t find problems, they should just keep checking. But we almost always do.

I spoke with one reseller yesterday who performs several assessments every month. While just about every assessment shows urgent issues, his assessment-to-project conversion is only about 15% (Which is average for our industry). Something is wrong here. If all of the assessments reveal urgent issues, why is the conversion rate so low?  It’s the assessment process. It’s designed to uncover vulnerabilities, but not designed to convert clients.

In my session I reviewed how to move business people from thinking they are fine, to understanding the truth about security. From there, we talked about how to assess and convert, to help businesses take the right actions to keep their data secure. Once things are under control, the MSSP offering should be designed to maintain an acceptable level of risk.

Providing this to your customers will make you one of their most important strategic partners.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. if you’re interested in selling more security, consider the Security Sales Mastery Program – contact us to see if your company is eligible for training sponsored by Check Point Software, or one of several other well known security manufacturers.




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


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