2016Will You Hit Your Numbers This Year?

Increasing Your Recurring Revenue May Be Easier Than You Think

Supersizing, asking if you want fries with that, and bringing out the dessert tray, are all strategies restaurants use to increase revenue. And they work!

My son is a manager at a local Charlotte restaurant. He tells me they are closely monitoring, and rewarding the waiter with the biggest check. Their wait staff are trained to sell, and adding things like dessert and drinks to the tab raise the profits significantly. Asking has a lot to do with selling.  But targeting those who are already eating is also a key part of the strategy.$1 HC Book Ad

How to Increase Your Ticket Per Customer Now

If you’re trying to increase your monthly recurring revenue number before year end, you have just 3 months to do it. Here are a few things to consider…

  1. Firewall Monitoring. If you’re already doing some level of firewall monitoring, are you actually providing 7 by 24 monitoring? If not, this is worth between $100 and $500 or more per month for small businesses. Do they need it? If they don’t have a solid detection strategy in place, and their data is important to them, this might be the place to start.  If you can’t do it internally, consider outsourcing it to a third-party security operations center like Foresite.
  2. Backup and Recovery. Do all of your clients have offsite, cloud based backups?  If not, a disk failure could be disastrous. Disaster recovery experts tell us that about 77% of restores fail. If they value their data, and their restore point objective (How much data they can afford to lose) is important, this might be a good add-on.
  3. Mobile Security. More threats are coming, targeting phones to steal login credentials and spoof email. Your clients are probably using their phones for business, but the adoption on mobile security software is still extremely low. Per device, it’s not a big number, but the lifetime value of this customer goes up significantly with a small add-on per mobile device.
  4. Advanced Firewall Features. Many of the small business firewall products are now available with add-on features like threat emulation, sandboxing, and SIEM-like features. Selling a firewall might be hard, but what about providing these in a Hardware as a Service (HaaS) offering?

How to Get Started

Contact your current clients, offer a security update or briefing (using the concepts in my book, The House & The Cloud), and move them to an assessment. Since they are your client, I recommend waving your assessment fee, using the steps outlined in my book (Above) on page 94 – 200. 

If you follow these steps, the likelihood is high that you’ll come up with problems. If nothing else, they probably don’t have adequate protection against ransomware, and their endusers probably need a more thorough understanding of ruses be used to con them into wire transfers, downloading malware, and giving access to fraudsters.

While a new prospect deal might take 3 months from start to finish, these add-on deals are more like the fries at McDonalds. The customer is standing there, you just need to make the recommendation.  Some percent of them will buy.

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

socWant to Sell More Managed Services?

Being the Low Cost Provider Never Works…

But don’t be the middle priced offering either. There’s absolutely no benefit…

Your only option is to move upstream. Kmart, Walmart, Target…they’ve all worked hard to be the low cost provider. And how is that working out? Well, Kmart is closing dozens of stores before year-end. Walmart has been sweating over Amazon, their chief competitor, for the past 12 months. Month after month, these big box companies are fighting over pennies.  Amazon’s model is the only one that makes sense. It’s membership driven, offering music, storage, and instant purchase options, and a growing level of subscription oriented, monthly recurring revenue.

But in the reseller technology business you can’t win on price. Keep lowering you per workstation price and you’ll soon have margins that are so thin, you’ll have to let your best people go.  Don’t do it. (You can find more strategies on this in my book, The House & The Cloud!).$1 HC Book Ad

Instead, start asking, “How can I upgrade to a premium level of service?” Take this one step further and ask, “Where is my niche market?”

Security Offers a Compelling Premium Service

You probably already offer firewall management. But as firewall companies like Check Point and Fortinet add advanced services such as threat emulation, sandboxing, and SIEM like technology, there’s an up-sell opportunity to provide the 7 by 24 monitoring aspect. Something your clients just cannot afford to do internally.

Don’t have your own SOC (Security Operations Center), or the team to do this overnight? You can outsource it through channel-only security providers like Foresite. For a small fee, they’ll take over the management, offering different levels of service depending on the size and need of your client.

Don’t Give it Away

Don’t give this away. It’s your added value to the MSP program – something not many service providers are offering right now.  Over time, begin adding security expertise to your team, and add some high-end security services to your offering. For instance, you might add virtual CISO services or take over the reporting and interface needed for auditors policing compliance regulations such as PCI and HIPAA.

One client I work with offers GLBA management to regional banks, leveraging new laws that require there be a compliance officer, independent of the IT department. How many small banks can afford to hire someone qualified to fill such a role? Not many. But a third-party provider is permitted and makes for a great add-on service offering.

If you’re getting beat on commodity pricing, start thinking about security services and how to add that premium level. If you just raise your prices, you’re likely to be out there with Kmart, closing down offices. If you only have one office, it might be a short ride to the end.

© 2016, David Stelzl

policeThis Week’s Lesson on Good Security

Physical and digital security aren’t that far apart in principle. This week’s attacks on NY and NJ are another reminder that we need better security.  We’re getting hit on all sides. Governments are infiltrating our data, aggregators are profiling us far beyond any security check point or law enforcement group. And terrorists are hitting us in the streets.

Security is not a political question, it’s a science. Protection, detection, response. Three parts of a well defined system that work, when properly sequenced and timed. On the data side, as I shared with the Allinal Event attendees this week in San Antonio Texas, IT groups have been lulled into unnecessary product purchases, chasing meaningless compliance regulations (not that all of them are meaningless), and putting their faith in technology to keep out the perpetrator.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal offers a sobering insight from someone who’s experienced terrorism overseas as part of their daily life. Bret Stephens writes,

“What’s the lesson here for Americans? This past weekend’s terrorist attacks hold at least two. One is that there is a benefit for a society that allows competent and responsible adults to carry guns, like the off-duty police officer who shot the knife-wielding jihadist in St. Cloud, Minn. Another is that there is an equal benefit in the surveillance methods that allowed police in New York and New Jersey to swiftly identify and arrest Mr. Rahimi before his bombing spree took any lives.”

A change is needed in our mindsets on security. Security isn’t compliance or politics, it’s life. In the digital world our intellectual capital is being taken even day, bank accounts drained from fraudulent transfers, and businesses crippled by ransomware. On the streets, the expectation is that the police will be there just before the bomb goes off, on the network, we expect firewalls and antivirus software to stop every attack in it’s tracks…but they won’t.

Great security means being able to detect something is wrong before it’s too late, and having a well-rehearsed, timed response plan, that can stop if before damage is done. New laws and efforts to keep the bad guys out never work.

© 2016, David Stelzl

P.S. If you’ve not yet read Digital Money, The Smart Business Leader’s Guide to Stopping Hackers – it’s on Amazon right now!

san-antonio-riverwalkCPA Firms Have Some Serious Data

This morning I kicked off Allinial Global’s technology conference with a keynote on Digital Money and the growing value of data. Allinial is an association of over 8000 accounting professionals around the world. This week’s IT conference, held in San Antonio, focuses on the IT organizations that support these accounting firms.

I was encouraged to see that most of their agenda was focused on security!

While there are lot’s of IT topics worth discussing, security is by far the most pressing need. During our lunch break I heard from several attendees who reported various attempts on their companies, with hackers trying to get insiders to wire money to fraudulent accounts (CATO). This reinforces the message that corporate account takeover attacks are a real and A growing threat among small businesses.

We also discussed the need for small businesses to contract with outside security services providers to monitor traffic.  As I explain in my latest book, Digital Money, small businesses cannot afford to hire qualified security experts unless they themselves are also providing security services to their small business clients. Security people are expensive, and staying current means working on security every day.

Most IT professionals understand the need for more security, but getting management to act on assessments, and invest in proper detection/response strategies can be a challenge. Hopefully our session today has given this group a compelling message to take back to management. A message that moves them one step closer to strong detection and a timed response plan.

Check out Digital Money to find out what’s really going on out there, and why businesses are losing the battle…

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

 

We’re Back From An Amazing Trip!

There’s nothing like a week away, completely unplugged, and away from almost all electronics. We did use the GPS on my iPhone with one of my favorite apps from MotionX. We also carried our satellite phone just in case…

brainCreativity is Essential

But where does creativity come from?

Success comes to those who are truly creative, but how many people do you know, that you can truly say have great, creative ideas?

My 13 year-old son and I were discussing creativity and inventions just yesterday. Who actually invents something or comes up with an idea that turns into millions or billions of dollars? Much of it is technology today and Steve Jobs is a great example. Read his life story and you’ll see some character attributes you may not appreciate, but you can’t deny he had some genius in him. Is this creativity limited to just a few people? Or can you build your capacity to create?

Creativity is a character trait. Some may be more creative  than others, but don’t for a minute believe that you can’t become creative, or more creative than you are right now. Here are three things to consider if you want to be more creative, and therefore achieve greater success.

Taking Time To Build and Organize Knowledge

Napoleon Hill calls each one of us  to become learners – but not generalists. He calls out the university system as broken. The university system would have you believe the lie that a broad, general, liberal arts education is what you want if you’re going to lead. They have also instilled in us the lie that you need a professor to master something. This is not the case. Hill says, “No, you want specialized knowledge – to be an expert in something.” And that comes from research, reading, and organizing knowledge as you learn it.

Greg McKeown agrees in his book Essentialism.   He stresses the importance of choosing to either know a lot about a lot of things, and therefore be mediocre in all of them, or to specialize and become the expert; the advisor. Of course he urges us to choose the latter. Choose to be an expert in something that matters.

Hill encourages us to be reading every month and to subscribe to online courses (what he calls home study courses) that give us that specialized knowledge in our field of choice.

Taking Time To Brainstorm

Seth Godin, well known author and former VP of Marketing for Yahoo (back when they were a stock you’d want to own), tells us that great ideas are the few that pop up in the midst of hundreds of bad ideas. In other words, taking time to brainstorm and write out ideas leads to lots of bad ideas and a few good ones.  Those who don’t have good ideas, don’t actually have any ideas. They just don’t take time to think up ideas.

Before Thomas Edison solved the lightbulb problem, he first came up with a thousand things that don’t work. You can’t expect to have great, creative ideas, unless you first spend time coming up with all kinds of ideas, good and bad.

Hill points to our inherent fear of failure as the hurdle that keeps us from creating. It’s one of the six major fears common to all men according to Hill. No one wants to be different. But being the same just means you’re average. If you want to be more successful, you have to somehow be different.  Again, it was likely the school system, where the oddly dressed person was the outcast. Everyone had to be the same – same clothes, same music, same hair style, same lingo. Different was bad…Just ask Bill Gates.

Taking Time to Rejuvenate

Finally, McKeown compares us to our cell phones. If we’re not charged we won’t perform. Looking back at the industrial revolution he describes our mindset as one that values constant work, not creativity. The idea of a machine being down simply means it’s broken. So when it’s time to take time off for renewal, we cringe. It’s seems like a waste of time. The guy working next to you, who never takes any sick or vacation time, and who works 80 hours per week, is seen as more valuable. The truth is, creativity is worth more than any machine can produce. And more than the average workaholic will produce.

McKeown schedules his vacation days first. Days to completely let go of work, put away the phone, and ignore check email. These are days of renewal, to reset the mind and prepare him for great things.

Taking McKeown’s advice, I am, right now as you read this, trekking through the most northern mountain range in New York with my 13 year-old son Josiah. There’s no cell service out here, and no place to charge a laptop. Our only electronics are GPS and a satellite phone in case of emergency. It’s a time for relationship and renewal – one that will lead to greater self-awareness, productivity, and creativity.

If you want to be creative, and therefore more successful, start reading, organizing knowledge, brainstorming from that knowledge, and taking time off to renew your mind.

© 2016, David Stelzl