Archives For Personal Development

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How Relevant Will Your Skills Be Over the Next Five Years?

Are You Prepared to Take On The Digital World, and Still Make a Profit?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak  to Executives at a Packaging/Manufacturing Company headquartered in Charlotte NC. The topic, IT Transformation.

You’re probably on the technology provider side if you’re reading my blog regularly, but don’t reading just because I’m talking about…Internal IT.

These execs invited me because they want their internal people to act more like outside consultants than IT custodians.

The same must be true of your team. In the past, it was okay to be technically amazing, while lacking the consultative skills of the old BIG-6/8 firms. Not so any more.  Everyone must make the move, From Vendor to Advisor – whether and IT admin or  third-party provider.

So, in today’s post my goal is to unfold the map and show you how to get from here to there (here being the legacy VAR model, there – the HIGH PRICED CONSULTANT).

The Catalyst to Change

The Back Story….

My business is designed to help people make the move…but looking back, there was a time where I had to make the move.

I knew, graduating from Drexel University, with my Computer Science Degree in hand, that I wanted something a little different. My classmates were going off to large IT departments to code  (in COBOL). That was not me.

I had spent the last 3 years of school working CO-OP jobs with McNeil Consumer Products (Makers of Tylenol)…crawling under desks with COAX cables and early networks, and lugging heavy refrigerator-sized PCs through the halls to various departments.

After graduation I was working for Bank of America (Then NCNB), exploring Token Ring and Novell networks…the bank’s very first local area networks (While at the same time trying to start up a technology VAR called PC Professionals with my brother-in-law(.

It was Fred Deluca, President of Telesis, a third-party cable provider, that really stirred up my entrepreneurial juices. He was intent on getting me to leave the bank and join him in a new venture.

But it was hard to leave…the private jets, the spacious offices, the allure of working uptown in the largest building Charlotte had to offer – After all, I worked for THE BANK!

I was restless but afraid to leave…entrepreneurship was in my blood.

The schools systems try to beat it out of you, but mine wouldn’t die. I was born to do something a little more adventuresome.

Then one day the applecart was upset. My boss was leaving the company to go sell for Wellfleet Networks. He said he’d be happy to recommend me for his position – but the writing was on the wall, there were  greener pastures out there in the wild…

That was Chuck Robbins – yes, Cisco Systems’ CEO,….

Within 2 weeks I followed Chuck out to door. As a Wellfleet Reseller, I partnered with Chuck to open up new opportunities in the Charlotte area…Our first big win was Rexham Packaging – a global deal that put both of us on the map.

Looking back, Fred and Chuck, along with several other mentors, led the way, encouraging me to get out there and do something new…taking a risk.

Eventually I joined a small band of technologist to help start and grow a southeast integrator – Piedmont Technology Group…which would later be split into three companies – nGuard, Stalwart, and the remaining third, sold to Forsyth in Chicago.

5 Aspects of Technologist to Consultant Transformation

Not everyone is cut out to work as a consultant.

Transforming technologist (who like the stability of big company trimmings, or the regular paycheck that comes with salaries) may not make it.

There are 5 tests to help identify the consultant…In my presentation yesterday, this was my focus. We dove into each one in some detail to help separate those who will continue working to keep the lights on, and those will go on to discover new land!

  • Can they only talk tech, or do they think in terms of things (ROI, Competitive Advantage, Operational Efficiency, Risk Mitigation)?
  • Are the tactical or entrepreneurial? The entrepreneurial thinker is a student…they never pretend to know everything…they create 100 times, fail 99, and discover the one that works…They take risks (but calculated risks, not recklessness). They are trusted advisors – they are trusted, they are able to advise.
  • More Interested in infrastructure or Asset Owners?  Computers are tools to the consultant. They make the job easier, faster, better…or something. Computers fascinate the technician; they enable the consultant.
  • Certs or Skills? The technician is building a resume of certifications, but he often lacks the skills necessary to bridge the gap between business and automation…he speaks in TLAs and is proud to say he know to dissect the Windows Registry.
  • Which does he see as more important, his knowledge or his character? Dale Carnegie told us years ago, 90% of success is character, the remaining 10% is skill or know-how.

The Final Third…

In the last section of my talk, I addressed the conversion process…

Once you’ve identified those who can make the transition, a discipleship process is needed to take them over…

Look at any high-priced consulting model (such as KPMG or PWC). There’s always a mentor program. They don’t hire their people with skills, and then just let them go…the mentorship program is a program of indoctrination and evaluation

They learn the language, memorize and practice the methodologies, and carry the brand badge forward…

Those who won’t make PARTNER are identified along the way, and set out on new career paths, usually with one of the firm’s larger clients.

From time to time these alumni are included to keep the family in tact, and the brand growing inside these client organizations.

It’s a well thought-out strategy to recruit, indoctrinate, purify, and expand…

How will your organization fair through this age of transformation and digitalization? Get on track with making the move from vendor to advisor, and remain relevant through the coming years…your business depends on it.

© David Stelzl

PS. Your next step: Read From Vendor to Adviser, and get the details on pricing models, proposals that close, discovery and analysis tools, and so much more…it’s the transformation every third-party provider must make.

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

 

At The DropBox Office

October 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

dropbox

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

 

executive-1Three Things You Can Do To Earn A Seat At The Table

Continuing from yesterday’s topic on, Things Sales People Do That CIOs Hate, last week’s keynote also covered three things CIOs really need…and can’t easily get internally.

  • Security Intelligence.  Intelligence is the new security buzzword. Not that it’s new. But for years people have talked about “Defense in Depth”, “Zero Day Response”, “Layered Security,” etc.  Recent WSJ reports are telling us that just about every board meeting agenda allots about 30 minutes to security.  What do the leaders of that meeting want to know? They want a measure of risk – “What are the odds our company will get hit this year?”  Who, besides you can give them that information?
  • Advice on leveraging new technologies. In the interview I referenced yesterday, the CISO I was meeting with talked about his need for advisors. He can’t know everything, and his team is heads down on support issues, project implementations, and daily operations. They don’t have time to keep up with technology the way you do.  So rather than showing up with your corporate presentation, show up with research and examples. Knowing what other “like” companies are doing to compete will go a long way.  In the Interview he mentioned compliance as an area they constantly need more advice on…can you advise your clients on HIPAA, GLBA, PCI, etc.compliancy group
  • Trust. Most of the sales people out there are just trying to sell. Is that you? Do you care whether your product actually works, or delivers a benefit this client needs? If you do, and I hope you really do, you’re a minority. The great thing about security is, just about everyone needs new security. As threats evolve, and IT moves toward new disruptive technologies, the security strategy is constantly evolving. It’s safe to say that, regardless of who they end up buying from, they do need security. Make sure you are doing the things that earn that trusted advisor status. Security is a great place to start.

Copyright, 2016 David Stelzl

PS. Check out what Compliancy Group has to offer resellers…compliance offerings without going back to school for four years.

Some Great Opportunities To Grow Your Business

First, this Thursday, Ingram Micro is sponsoring a free online workshop – Lead Magnets, How to Get Dozens of New Leads Every Quarter, Without Making Cold Calls.

Sign Up Here! (CLICK).

Second, the video above provides a summary of some great information I delivered over the past few months traveling around with the Check Point Software SMB team.  On this 30 minute video you’ll find an overview of strategies to transform your MSP business with security, providing a great foundation for the material I’ll be presenting on Thursday…hope to see you there. $1 HC Book Ad

Remember, you can get more detail by ordering The House & The Cloud – now for just $1.00 – for a limited time!

©2015, David Stelzl

 

marriottThe Security Opportunity In Chicago

Last night, thanks to Check Point and Tech Data for their sponsorship,  I presented some of the most important information for a reseller’s future success…adding security to the MSP program.

The response was clear – MSP business is a commodity, if you don’t have something more than, cost reduction or greater efficiency as your value proposition. I spoke with one sales manager after the program – his company is fairly new in security, but their initial reaction from their customers and prospects makes it clear that this move is necessary. If you want to grow your business, start with security – everyone needs it, it’s urgent, and it creates a long term value proposition as you move your clients to manage their risk.$1 HC Book Ad

Check Point followed my presentation with a compelling message – the need to add the detection elements at the perimeter, but also on all end-nodes; especially tablets and phones.  David Wheeler,  the local SE for Check Point, demonstrated a simple hack on his phone, which then recorded everything he said for the next five minutes. There was no indication the phone had been hacked. In fact, the screen was dark – it was just sitting on the podium. He then launched an app from his laptop which replayed his comments. Not only that, it gave us all kinds of information gathered from the phone including personal details you would not want broadcasted to the world! What if this were a financial review meeting or strategy session in one of your client’s conference rooms?

Several people left with plans to get more involved in security – a great first step would be setting up your next lunch & learn to educate your clients and prospects on these trends. My book, The House & The Cloud provides the talk-tracks you need to take your client through the Impact vs. Likelihood risk discussion, The House & Cloud message to show them they are at risk, and an assessment process (on page 194) that will build the undeniable justification you need to move forward into remediation projects, product sales, and longterm managed security contracts.

© 2015, David Stelzl

IMG_9025We All Need To Keep The Learning Process Going

Spending Time With Successful People

How do I keep up?  Well it doesn’t hurt that I interview experts every month.  Last month I had the equivalent of an MBA course in HIPAA, preparing for and speaking with Marc Haskelson of the Compliancy Group.  Over the past several months I’ve had opportunities with former NSA and CIA agents, owners and presidents of highly successful resellers, and some of the highest producers at larger companies like Dell Secureworks, Accuvant, and Check Point Software.

Next month I’ll be hanging out with some million dollar producers in my own business in a 2 day planning and strategy mastermind meeting.  There’s nothing better than learning from your peers when you see them doing something great.

Morning Reading – Krebs, WSJ, Etc.

Another thing I do is read.  I always have a book going.  Right now I am working through an audio book on building your online platform, by Michael Hyatt.  I also read the WSJ CIO section each morning, and subscribe to Krebs on Security.  Here’s a tidbit from this morning’s post I found interesting … How do fraudsters “cash out” stolen credit card data? Increasingly, they are selling in-demand but underpriced products on eBay that they don’t yet own. Once the auction is over, the auction fraudster uses stolen credit card data to buy the merchandise from an e-commerce store and have it shipped to the auction winner. Because the auction winners actually get what they bid on and unwittingly pay the fraudster, very often the only party left to dispute the charge is the legitimate cardholder.”

Conferences Are Great For Networking and Learning

And today, as you read this post, I am headed out to Denver Colorado to attend the Information Marketers Summit with Robert Skrob, President of the Information Marketing Association.  IMA is code for online training programs like the Security Sales Mastery Program on my website.  If you’re in the high tech industry, you can’t afford to work so hard that you don’t have time to read, network, and attend training.  As you start looking at your 2016 two things I recommend doing. First, figure out when you are going on vacation, and block that time out.  Also block out any important days such as your spouses birthday or your anniversary.  Second, figure how what kind of training you need to get and how you’re going to get it.  If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.

© 2015, David Stelzl

PS. Don’t forget, many of you qualify for free training. I have several sponsors who are willing to put you through the Security Sales Mastery Program – normally $450/seat!  Contact me to find out if you qualify for a seat!