buffalo_shipConsulting Skills Needed

Speaking In Buffalo, NY this Morning – This ship (above) sits right across from our hotel!

If you want to succeed in selling technology solutions, there are a variety of skills sorely lacking in most technology sales organizations. Today I’ll be meeting with Ingram Micro’s Advanced Solutions Team in Buffalo, NY exploring some of these.

Years ago the relationship might have been enough. While you can’t sell without a relationship, it’s not enough. Clients want more. The truth is, there are lot’s of relationship people out there. Here are some of the skills we’ll be discussing today. None of these are out of reach. They just take some extra effort. Apply just a couple of these and they’ll put you out in front of your competition…

Skills That Set You Apart

Public Speaking: I can’t say enough about “speaking”. Most assume good speakers are born that way. It’s not true. Perhaps there’s a handful, but most great speakers have worked at it. In fact I was speaking with an executive just the other day who told me he was getting ready for his annual sales meeting and needed to submit his recorded speech to his speaker coach.  There are a number of routes to take here.

Some are nearly free. For instance, Toastmasters. Every city has multiple Toastmaster groups, so join one and get some speaker critique. Learn how to engage an audience and your sales calls will be more fun, and far more productive.  Imagine clients who like hearing you present!

Facilitation Methodology: Disagreement among colleagues in a business you call on is one of the primary reasons they never take action. Learn how to bring synergy and you’ll shorten sales cycles and increase close rates.

Dr. Edward De Bono’s book, The Six Thinking Hats has been a pillar in my library for some time. I’ve also had training from one of their authorized instructors – which I highly recommend. This one skill will likely double your business if you work at it.

Copywriting: Your high school english teacher would likely have a heart attack, but I am much further ahead having studied copywriting. We’re talking about marketing communications or “Marcom”.  It breaks most of the rules you learned in school – but copy is what sells. Great copy is expensive, but you can learn to write your own. Stop sending out boring emails, and you might even decide your own company’s data sheets are poorly written. John Caples has several books on the subject. Any one of them is a great place to start.

Presentation: Different than public speaking, but related, is the art of presentation. People learn in various ways, but most presentations miss the mark complete. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book, Made to Stick, do a great job of educating us on how to make content appealing and sticky.

We’ll cover a lot more today, but this is a great start…Check out my book, “From Vendor to Adviser” for more details on these, as well as consulting skills, assessment methods, and event how to price with higher margins.

From Vendor to Adviser” <<< Click here to get it on Amazon

© 2016, David Stelzl


ohioSpeaker Notes for Tomorrow’s Session in Cincinnati…

This morning I am headed to Ohio to meet with business leaders in the Cincinnati area – Another Digital Money session on Stopping Hackers!

If you provide IT services to businesses, I hope you’ll consider doing one of these with me at some point. Every business needs it, and most don’t understand the threats they are up against.

It’s a busy fall for us. Last week we wrapped up a session in San Francisco with large reseller executives, then headed down to work with a large sales team in Irvine, CA.  And tomorrow, Cincinnati, a session sponsored by InTrust-IT…

The Most Frequently Misunderstood Truth In Small Business

The big question always comes up, “Why would anyone want my data? After all, we’re just a local business. There’s nothing interesting here.”  I think Verne Harnish answered that question last week. If you’ve read his books, Rockefeller Habits, and Scaling Up, you know he’s a small business with very little in the way of infrastructure. Like me, he’s a speaker and a business coach, supported by a small team. Yet his blog post tells the story of a $400K ruse that caught him and his team completely by surprise.

Why small business? Because small businesses still have money, take out loans, and process credit cards. They have bank accounts and payrolls. Today’s hacking tools are largely automated. So sending out hundreds or thousands of scamming emails takes the hacker very little time. When one lands, the hacker will follow up. Small businesses are also largely unprotected by this sort of thing.

It might be a fraudulent invoice or request for ACH wire transfer. In Verne’s case he writes, “They sent an email to my assistant completely imitating my style, subject line, and signature asking her to wire funds to three different places.” This is getting more and more common. The more data we put online about ourselves, the easier it is for someone to impersonate us!

Tomorrow’s Session is About Digital Money and the Value of Data

Digital Money, my latest book, goes into detail on this. Data aggregation is in motion, pooling our data in one place where it can be analyzed.

There are several major data aggregators out there doing this. But the idea is to collect enough data to profile YOU. This is usually for the purpose of some analysis or marketing effort. We’re seeing it used right now in the election. That’s right. The candidates are leveraging this data to figure out who is likely to be on the edge, and needs a push. The data tells them both who to target  and how to influence them.

That data in the hands of the hacker allows the hacker to act just like Verne, or whoever they need to be, to issue orders to the team. Verne’s on stage in Russia, meanwhile his team is getting instructions to transfer funds. Will they? Of course. They’ve received these requests in the past, and they were real. There’s no reason to question them now, and the hacker knows that. These attacks are well scripted and highly successful. And the likelihood of prosecution is low.

Can it be stopped? Not completely. But there are ways to reduce the risk…and that moves us to a managed security program that involves people and technology, well equipped to deal with these common attacks. A program that detects these threats early on, before data has been compromised, and stops them before damage is done. Tomorrow, my goal is to give our audience the business-level understanding they need to make wise decisions going forward. And then to point them to the tools and process they’ll need to combat these attacks in the coming year.

© 2016, David Stelzl


At The DropBox Office

October 18, 2016 — Leave a comment


The Important, But Difficult Transformation…

From Vendor to Advisor

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Ingram Micro’s Datacenter Advisory Board to discuss the important transformation: From Vendor to Advisor.

Meeting at the DropBox office in San Francisco (Amazing office space!), I covered five key areas of transformation. But one important one, every sales person should be engaged in right now is that of understanding the CIO and their current challenges.

CIOs are in trouble in many respects. If you call on businesses large enough to staff a actual CIO, and you were to get their honest input on where things are headed, you might be surprised to hear what’s going on.

The office of CIO is under fire right now from two sides…

On one side, the business leadership is looking for CIOs to lead the charge with digitalization. That means figuring out how to leverage transformational technologies to compete in a digital world. Customer experience is the focus here, and customers want to be connected online. Amazon-like interaction is becoming more and more expected. The sales rep who can provide business insight on how to transform the business is going to be highly sought after.  CIOs can’t so this alone.$1 HC Book Ad

But few reps are doing anything more than parroting data sheet features and functions. The answer? Every rep should be back in school! By that I mean taking time to learn about business.

Reading the CIO Journal is a great start. But don’t stop there. Read books written by the top business authors. Every month I recommend books I find value in through my Insider’s Edge Newsletter.  One book I recently recommended, Traction, offers great insights into the business planning process.  Business planning might not sound like technology sales stuff, but it is central to what business leaders need. Start with the things they are already engaged in, and then move to the digital age to help them solve real-world problems.

On the other side there is security. The fact is, security is changing, and CIOs are being asked to present a measurement of risk to their board. Where does that data come from? In the very large enterprise, such as Bank of America (where I used to work years ago), there are teams that handle that sort of thing. But come down a step or two and it doesn’t exist.

One of my clients, who manages this entire process for regional banks, recently reported achieving over 400% of his quota in just 6 short months, simply by providing this to his clients.  They need it, and they’ll pay for it.

The  Trusted Advisor  Formula

There are two ingredients – Trusted and Able to Advise. It’s obvious. Maybe even silly. When I say this on stage it usually gets a laugh.

But there is an important question here.  Are you able to advise on the things your execute-level clients really need advice on? If not, how will you equip yourself to make this transformation? It’s not easy. It takes diligence in reading, studying, and listening to/ watching great content. Those who take the time to study will see the results. Those who don’t may find the next decade in this business to be impossible.

© 2017, David Stelzl


Process Creates Profit

October 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

processAre You Maximizing Profit w/ Process?

Sales Is a Process That Must Be Built and Perfected

It’s tempting to wing it – shoot from the hip. A small percentage of sales people just seem to hit it out of the park without thinking or strategizing beforehand. But process always outperforms the average.

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, told us that even an average process would outperform the average player.

In my Event Marketing Success Kit, I introduced a concept called the conversion blueprint for sales. A flow chart that moves sales reps away from flawed methods like, make 60 calls per day to get 1 meeting…and close a percentage per month.  Instead, I’ve systematized the process of attracting new customers, taking them through a series of steps that create justification and ultimately a decision to buy.$1 HC Book Ad

If one point of conversion is too low, there are strategies that can be used, and tips given to perfect that point. I’ve also given average conversion rates on each, giving the rep something to compare their success to.

It’s been said that the low income earners are working hard while the higher income earners own processes. McDonalds hires and trains low income earners while those who designed and improved the process have done very well for themselves. While sales is not like building burgers, it is a process that can be systematized.

Getting Started with Process

Need a place to start? Selling everything to anyone leads to hard work and chaos. On the other hand, finding an something to lead with can save you time and offer greater value through specialization w/ higher close rates.

For instance, if you know the assessment always leads to business (or converts 60% – 70% of the time as a client told me yesterday), then you know your system works best when you focus on moving people to the assessment first. From there you can branch out into many directions, but the sales are in motion at that point.  Your income naturally goes up.

As Collins points out, the process doesn’t have to be perfect. Better to start with something and tweak it as you go. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Start Up reminds us to build, measure, learn. Rather than building the perfect mousetrap the first time around, get something on paper, begin to work it, and perfect it as you go. In the end you’ll have a much better system.

For more on how to build the right systems to drive margin rich IT services, check out The House & The Cloud…The only book I know of that explains how to sell security services with a simple, easy to implement, sales process.

© 2016, David Stelzl



graph-going-upHow Long Has Your Company Been This Size?

Can You Multiply It?

In 1995, I joined a couple of guys to build a new commercial focused reseller. Our vision was big. We were funded by an 8 million dollar CAD-CAM reseller, but we expected to exceed this by 10X…

So How Do You 10X Your Business?

First, it takes a lot of work ON your business, vs. being bogged down in the daily grind. There’s a tipping point, or fly wheel, or whatever you want to call it, depending on whose book you read.  Three things that accelerated our growth are important, because they still apply. NewsProCover

RETENTION and MARKET FOCUS…even in the mid 90s we knew we needed recurring revenue and long term clients. Getting a client takes time, but keeping one is far easier. (Check out Shaun Buck’s Book on newsletter marketing for more ideas on client retention – It’s free if you use this link).

Customer experience is a hot topic right now in every business. But the key to our success was problem solving. We weren’t going after the firewall sale, or even the storage sale. We were there to solve problems. When you solve a problem, people take notice, and retention goes up.

The first step might be surprising. It’s going after the right kind of customers. I call this people group. Even today I can point to profitable deals that didn’t create long term business, simply because the client was too far outside my target people group. It’s fine to sell something to someone outside your core market. But don’t spend time marketing to that group. Let them come to you. Take down the business and assume they’ll be moving on. Whatever you do, don’t rebrand your company overnight to find more like that.

The same was true in our 1995 start up. We sold 10s of millions of dollars to one single customer in one single year. But the chances of landing more like it were nearly zero. Not everyone agreed with me on that, but over the 5 years (before the company was sold,) those who tried never succeeded. It was a wasted effort.  On the other hand, those in our target market were by far our most profitable clients.

MAXIMUM LIFE TIME VALUE…next is understanding the lifetime value of a customer. A few weeks ago I entered an ice cream store with my family. Now we have 9 people in our family, so when we buy ice cream at a boutique, it’s a large ticket sale. But in the course of ordering, the owner yelled at my 8 year old son. My son was tired, not feeling well, and accidentally wandered behind the counter looking for a restroom.

Not believing my ears, I confronted the store owner – at first politely. But he remained stubborn, so we all walked out. What did that cost him?  He might be thinking, $30. But no, it’s far more. We travel by that store on trips pretty often. The lifetime value (LTV) far exceeds that $30. Customer experience is essential if you want to increase LTV. What about your business. How long do clients stay on your managed services? What if you increase that average by just one year? What happens to your profit?

When a new client comes on, you need a real problem to solve, and an experience they won’t forget. You need long term retention.

GROWTH AND UPSELL…Finally, the 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of your customers are worth 80% of your revenue. So what can you add for those premium customers, to give them a premium service?

A one off sale does not lead to growth. So start thinking, what can we add to provide higher level services, with recurring revenue, which ultimately increase LTV?

Let’s say you have a base MSP offering of $X per workstation – let’s say you have 100 of these. 20 percent of these customers are going to pay enough to make up 80%, so give them something more expensive to buy.  But don’t stop. The 20 customers are paying a multiple of what the other 80 are paying – and of course getting something far more valuable. But 20 percent of that 20, or 4 of them, will pay enough to make up 80% of the profit coming from the 20. In other words, you can offer a higher level service to the 4, worth a multiple of what those 20 pay.  But wait, there’s one more step – that last 20% is one person, willing to pay for one more level of service.  So go ahead and create one.

If you do the math now, you’ll see that this 100 person group is now worth far more than they were with the original MSP offering.  As your business grows, the group grows, and new levels get created, growing your business.  It took us 5 years to hit the 10X mark. Of course this takes people, time, and vision…but there’s no better time to start than right now.

© 2016, David Stelzl




Stage Set Up

300 Security Leaders Meeting in Miami

Looking for More Tools to Combat Cybercrime!

I’m just heading back from meeting with over 300 CISOs and CIOs, all part of the Florida International Banker’s Association –  Celaes Event, at the Trump Hotel, Doral.  

Great event, very well run, and an opportunity to connect with security leaders from all over Central and South America.  I was also able to reconnect with old friends from Kaspersky and Dimension Data.

Here are a few pictures…You’ll notice Former Mayor Giuliani on stage as well!  The living room shot was part of my amazing suite…

And I’m leaving just in time to avoid Matthew, the latest hurricane headed this way.


business-mtgGetting Executive Buy-In Is Critical

If You Expect Your Clients to Take Action on Assessment Findings

Only about 15% of the risk assessments, from audience poles I conducted, are being acted on! Yet, over 95% of them show urgent issues, according to security experts I am in touch with.  There’s a major disconnect.$1 HC Book Ad

The Right Language Matters

One key reason I’ve observed, is the language being used to write the assessment reports. Not only are the reports too long to attract executive readers. Even if they did want to wade through the 50 page document, it would be like you or I wading through a technical journal to find out what to do about cancer risks. Chances are we would comprehend about 5% of it, giving up after the first few pages.

If you’ve worked in a large corporation, you know there’s a disconnect between IT and executive management. Don’t expect everyone to sit down to review your paper. In the small business the security expert doesn’t exist, and the small business owner is already running at top speed, trying to grow the business, manage cash flow, and build customer experience before their competition does. They don’t have time to sift through mounds of jargon.

Grabbing Their Attention Early

But the other issue is one of desire and priority. Does the business owner or executive see your report as urgent – must read now? If you have not involved them in the findings, chances are they don’t see it as urgent. If they have an IT group, they’ll delegate it. If they don’t it will sit on their desk (especially if you waved your fee – a common practice in the small business market).

All of this changes when you start your assessment at the Asset Owner level. (See my book, The House & the Cloud, Page 195).  Starting with those who have liability, with the goal of discovering their most important data as it relates to their business growth and profitability, is the best way to get them interested before you complete the assessment.

Find out what digital assets are most important to protect and why. Then look at who would want them. And based on how things are set up and who creates and uses this data, discover how unauthorized users might gain access. When you’re done, tie your findings to business issues. Leave out the technical jargon. And bring your report to the that executive with a short presentation on what it means to their business.

If your conversion rates on this process don’t go up to about 60% something is wrong. Consider reading through chapter 13 of The House & the Cloud – 2nd Edition, for ideas on how to convince your audience that this is important.

© 2016, David Stelzl