Archives For Value Proposition

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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.

group-predator-fishes-hierarchy-fish-dominate-eat_121-73335Who Will Dominate the Future of Assessments? Security Experts or Business Risk Advisors?

Scope (what’s covered) has everything to do with differentiating the Security Assessment Sale.

In case you missed Part I , Read it Here:

The One Thing That Set My Client’s Assessment Apart From 13 Competitive Quotes

I’ve been writing a series of articles on risk assessments over the past couple of months. If you’re in the security business (or trying to break in on this growing cash cow) it’s time to get on board with how assessments work; how they’re sold, what they’re for, how to get them read, and how to make them work for you inside the accounts you sell to.

In Part I, I covered Differentiating Yourself in the Sales Call. (Note: if you’re looking for a technical read, this is not it…

So, next, let’s turn to the scope, and how what you cover in your engagement has a lot to do with who buys it and who reads it.  

If you want to grow your business, keep reading – the assessment is the best way  (and one of the only ways) to get engaged with decision makers (the people writing the checks).

Your Client Is Wrong About Scope 97% Of The Time 

I hear it all the time, “The client is always right.” No they’re not!!! Especially when it comes to security.

Remember (See my book, The House & The Cloud) your IT contacts are not liable. And your asset-owner contacts (who are liable) have very little understanding when it comes to security.

So don’t let the client dictate the scope.

In short, you can’t simply respond to an RFP and come up with a meaningful assessment project (I discuss RFP responses in detail in my book, From Vendor to Adviser).

Getting The Scope Right

When I bring up, Assessment. The first question I get is, which tools (scanners) do you recommend? I’ll cover the actual assessment process in a future article. But for now, set tools/scanners, etc. aside. There’s something far more important here to consider…

The typical approach to assessing risk is, Inside/Outside. But looking inside (trusted), and then out, is wrong thinking…

The truth is, your client doesn’t have and inside or outside anymore. Sure, your dream client has a perimeter, but half the office is on the road or working at home. They’re all outside on their mobile devices. Chances are these knowledge workers are going back and forth between personal (Facebook and shopping) and business, and on  breaks their kids are playing Counter Strike or World of Warcraft (or surfing porn and gambling sites).

(And then there’s the 75% of employees who admit they steal from their employers – all inside…WSJ)

Wrong Thinking

Every paid assessment should cover perimeter devices, end nodes, and network architecture/segmentation & configuration. The obvious, so I won’t elaborate.

Yet, when I read a scope document, and it breaks the assessment down into: Internal, External, Network, Perimeter, and Servers/Storage…I get concerned.

This infrastructure-centric approach is for the super-techies, not business leaders.

I can already imagine the deliverable with it’s endless tables and network diagrams. The Red, Yellow, Green light ratings that appear on every assessment. If you’re looking to differentiate yourself, this won’t do it.

Price will be the deciding factor!!!

Rethinking Your Scope – Make It Attractive to Business Leaders

The business people (Asset Owners) are the ones who will be writing this check. So, what is it they need? In my book, The House & The Cloud I spell out exactly what the board is looking for (see page 195). It’s restated in Selling Assessments Part I.

This type of deliverable requires a different approach. The final outcome is a measure of risk (illustrated in the Impact vs. Likelihood Chart). impact-v-likeihood

START HERE – DIGITAL ASSETS: Think like a Disaster Recovery Specialist…

Where is the data? Which of these assets are most important, and what can’t they do without?

It’s a fact that most companies have no idea where their data actually is, or who has access to it. When people travel, work from home, or use cloud apps, knowing gets even harder. Ad-hoc data is everywhere.

Tools such as those provided by RiskIQ are designed to find data. In some cases that data is sitting on someone else’s server (such as a competitor or in a darknet chat room, for sale).

Digital assets, not hardware infrastructure, is what assessing risk is all about. So Consider the following:

ACCESS CONTROL – ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS: People(and now robots) access data. Behind every data breach is a person. Some people have access, so they’re authorized. But not all authorized people are doing things they’re authorized to do.

Does your assessment include the people inside the organization? It should. Remember, “75% of internal workers admit they steel from their employer (as referenced earlier)”.

PEOPLE: Given all that’s just been said, be sure to include interviews (more details on this in my book, The House & The Cloud pg. 196).

DATA ASSET TRANSMISSION & STORAGE: Once you know where the data is, you want to know who accesses it, from where, when, and why. Data transmission and storage is part of a company’s workflow. So include in your scope, an analysis of assets as follows:

  • Creation: Understanding who is creating assets, when, and where is important. Most end-users don’t see their data as valuable or desirable outside their department or work function (this is true even when it comes to medical data). More importantly, they fail to realize how much data they are actually creating, and how data aggregation and deep machine learning can extrapolate and derive all kinds of intelligence from their daily activities.
  • Application: Data is then used by various applications, requiring transmission between applications, people, cloud services, etc. Are these application secure? Who has access, and who controls that data when applications are hosted in another country?
  • Transmission: This includes all network, wireless (including bluetooth, etc.). Looking at transmission has to do with traffic and protocols. So include traffic analysis – what protocols are found? (e.g. Does IRC Chat traffic belong on this network? Probably not. Did you look for it?).
  • Storage: All data gets stored at some point – even if it’s just in memory. Did you know copy machines store images of everything (and then those leased machines get placed in new businesses as your client upgrades)? And then there’s personal devices, personal email accounts, and the list goes on…are these considered part of the scope?
  • Archival: Data retention policies are key here. Is this data encrypted and does it get deleted at some point (according to policy)? A subpoena at the wrong time, right after an unscheduled deletion, could raise some eyebrows. Are cloud service providers storing this data locally, or is it international – under some other country’s privacy laws? Who owns that data? What if the cloud provider goes out of business or is acquired?
  • Destruction: Then there’s data disposal. Do the end-users understand the difference between hitting the delete key and deleting a file? In most cases, no!

TRUE SECURITY (ALL THREE ASPECTS): Security can be looked at several ways. The CISSP ISC2.ORG common body of knowledge looks at 7 (and this varies over time) major disciplines. Most security professionals recognized three pillars:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Integrity
  3. Availability

All three should be considered in the scope. I’ll provide more detail on approach in a future writing…but be sure to cover all three.

SOCIAL ENGINEERING: Social engineering is part of just about every cybercrime incident (probably all of them). However, it’s rarely part of the assessment. Again, go back to the purpose – identifying risk. The amount of risk a company has, has a lot to do with how susceptible it’s end-users are to a ruse.

Testing them is one way to uncover weaknesses – such as an email phishing test. In any case, some thought should be given to their current security awareness program, policy (covered below), and security culture.

POLICY: I’ve heard security experts say, all security breaches are the result of some policy not being followed, or not existing. I don’t know if that’s always true, but it does carry some weight.

Most policies are written to satisfy some compliance officer, not guide the daily activities of end-users, who create, use, and store digital assets all day long. Include a review, not only of the written policy, but how it’s used and enforced.

WHAT ABOUT AUDITS: This is not an audit, so don’t treat it like one. Audits are about being compliant (get your compliance offering going with HIPAA here) against some standard or law. They don’t measure risk.

So take time to educate your buyer on the difference. The goal should be to comply with the law, and then make sure things are secure. One does not satisfy the other.

Reference an Approach (NIST)

Finally, security can be differently by different people, so just what does it mean to be secure? Or to assess risk?

Having certifications such as the CISSP (ISC2.ORG) or GIAC (SANS.ORG) can go a long way in proving to your buyer that you understand security.

Security engineers are not required to have their PE or Engineering Certificate, or be authorized by a board in the way doctors or lawyers are.  While I am not in favor of more big government oversight (like what we’re seeing in the ever-frustrating world of healthcare), pointing to a standard or framework (such as NIST) is powerful when selling.

Most sales people (your competition) are not going to be able to articulate what standards/frameworks (such as NIST) mean. So take some time and educate yourself on what I call, The Wall Street Journal Version of NIST (or whatever standard your firm will follow.) You can check out my recent article on Understanding NIST here. (CLICK).

And the Winner Is…

Do you want to win your next sales opportunity????

Assessments open doors and allow you to prove your value…however,…

Assessing Risk is a business function. Like Disaster Recovery/ Business Impact Analysis (which are really just one of the security disciplines) it is the executive team that needs an understanding of their exposure and impact/likelihood…the odds they’ll suffer a loss.

And this explains why high-end consulting firms like PwC and KPMG have long been welcomed in the board room, while resellers and most hardware manufactures continue to hit the down button when getting on the elevator.

© 2017, David Stelzl

P.S. Get the entire security sales approach here (The House & The Cloud) – the only book out there with a clear methodology for selling high-margin security business.

 

 

 

00b4a67There’s Big Money In Risk Assessments

If You Know How To Sell Them…

But You Must Start Here If You Plan to Succeed:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about free assessments – an incredibly fast (yet misunderstood) way to create business, when the prospect doesn’t understand their true needs (which seems to be more often than not).

The question is, is there a time to charge? And if so, how much, what scope, where do you start?

In this Part I article, I’ll show you where to begin when creating new business through fee based assessments…

What Your Client Needs, and Where to Begin Your Sales Process

First, it’s important to start where people are, and then take them to where they need to go. In other words, you can’t sell someone what they need, when they don’t yet know their needs. Great marketing starts by understanding the buyer’s desires, and then reframing that prospect’s thinking.

Most larger (fee based) assessment opportunities start with an IT person. If the prospect-company lacks an IT group, they’re probably too small to command a reasonable price for assessing. In that case, I’d go back to FREE ASSESSMENTS and sell them the recurring revenue-managed services & security program. That is what they really need…

Think Like a Psychologist, And Listen to Your Prospect’s Pressing Need…(But Don’t Sell Try to Sell Them Anything Yet) 

When asked to quote an assessment, you might be tempted to jump in and start your discovery; how many firewalls, how many servers, do you want applications assessed too?

This is the wrong approach!!!!

Leading with technical questions, leads to competing on price.

The IT person has something in mind…is it a true risk assessment? Did they call it something else; Pen Test, Vulnerability Assessment, Audit, etc. Do they know the difference? (Probably not).

Establish your contact’s desire first. Ask them…What is it you’re looking for?” And, “WHY do you need it?”

This second question is the more important question (WHY). Expect answers like, “To see if we’re secure,” or “To show our clients we are secure.” You see the problem here?

First, you know that there is no such thing as being “secure”. Second, the assessment is only going to reveal problems this company didn’t know existed. So the idea of certifying your buyer’s infrastructure is a fallacy.

It’s time to reframe (EDUCATE)!!!

Find out where this request is coming from and what’s been done in the past.

ASK THEM:

  • Is this request coming down from the CIO? The Board? The President?
  • Is there a compliance requirement here, or is this just about internal data security?
  • What are the stake holders looking for in terms of a deliverable? Have you done this before? (Getting a past deliverable can be invaluable).
  • Who else are you considering for this project (This is a key question most are afraid to ask)?
  • And be sure to ask about their selection criteria!

Avoiding the Price Game – And The Steve Jobs Wanna-Be

Chances are your IT contact doesn’t really know what’s going on. He needs an assessment or pen test, and probably doesn’t know the difference. At this point he’s looking to you for a comparison quote.  The last thing you want to do is give him what he’s asking for.

Your IT contact is just a cog in the larger wheel of technology bureaucracy. (Note, if your contact is actually part of a security team, the approach will be different.

I’m specifically talking about IT here – and I started my career in IT, working for two different F500 companies. I’ve seen this from the other side. Don’t over estimate what IT knows about security.

If you simply respond to a bid, or scope out what IT is requesting, the buyer will have nothing to match your price against (in terms of value) other than your competition’s bids and his budget.

Comparison’s against anything other than established need and value are meaningless, and simply lead to price wars.

In every competitive deal there’s at least one guy working out of his garage, offering low-ball prices (and they’re not Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak). You don’t want the truck-slammers of the world to be the yardstick by which buyers vet your price.

Reframing Your Prospect’s Thinkingimpact-v-likeihood

Here’s what happened the last time I worked on a competitive assessment deal…

I was hired by a reseller to work closely with their sales team as a coach/advisor…

(Years ago I had built and led the Security Team for a large global integrator, where we primarily led with assessments – so this call was not new territory).

As expected, our new prospect was looking for an assessment – in his words, a vulnerability assessment. After going through the steps outlined above, we began our reframing process.

First, we asked him, “Do you know what your board is asking your CIO for?” His answer was predictably vague. How would he know?

Next, my client (the reseller) drew the Impact vs. Likelihood Graph on the whiteboard (Page 194 in my book, The House & The Cloud).  He began to review the five things board members demand:

  1. What are our most important data assets, and where are they?
  2. What are the odds we’ll suffer some major intrusion or outage?
  3. What our estimated impact?
  4. How are we working to minimize this risk?
  5. Are we getting better or worse over time? How are we managing to it?

Get the House & Cloud Book for $1.00 – Limited Time Offer

Time To Bring Out The One Thing That Sets You Apart From the 13…

Without calling out our competition (never a good thing to do), we began to describe what most vulnerability assessments look like, how they’re approached (something for a future article), and why they aren’t going to satisfy the board’s request.

At that point, my client (the reseller I had been working on the House & Cloud Concepts with) pulled out a sample deliverable (with no intention of leaving it with the prospect) and began to go through the type of deliverable that would make an IT Director a hero…

Deal closed…Well, There’s more to it, but this is just Part I of a predictable assessment sales process designed to front-end big profits and future business.

© David Stelzl, 2017

 

sales-funnelNobody Understands Opt-In Strategies, Yet Everyone Has One…

If You Missed My Write Up On Lead Magnets and Insane Web Conversion, Go Back to Last Week’s Post…This Is Important…

What’s the #1 PROBLEM I hear on coaching calls?  Not enough new-logo deals…However, that’s not the real problem…

Keep drilling to the root problem and something unexpected pops up….

Not enough sales meetings…(true, but that’s not the root)…

Push further and I find my client’s list is just too small (or just stale and beaten to death).

A Neglected Prospect List Quickly Becomes Cold Leads

Afraid to keep emailing…If you’re not communicating, you might as well have a cold list. But you also need new names…when you start regular communications, expect people to drop off…it’s okay.

Names are like cells on the body – they die or become useless, so get rid of them, and replace them with new names…

Last week I urged you to get a lead magnet that works, front and center, top of the fold, on your website. Something to attract new names every day…Are you doing that???

(And don’t use the FREE assessment trick – read more about what makes a lead magnet work here)…

Once you’ve read the above, DOWNLOAD my eBook – It’s a lead magnet…One designed to attract prospects to your managed services business (using security)…It’s called,

Surviving the Digital Revolution  <<< The eBook That Converts

eBooks Only Go So Far…You Need More

But Having an ebook is NOT Enough – Something Has To Follow…if you need more leads, keep reading…

Yesterday I visited a site with an ebook. I downloaded it…okay, I have the book. Now what?

Is there a nurturing campaign of some kind to follow? Will that website owner work to earn my business?

The Necessary Actions That Follow Great Opt-Ins

Some of my traffic is HOT – It’s made up of people that know what I do, …and they’ll buy just because they believe my products are great.

Then there’s WARM traffic. Perhaps these people have heard my name, or at least understand what I am offering, and it seems to meet their need. They need some education – but at least they’re listening.

The third group is COLD. They seem unaware – not sure what they need or who can help them…They may not even know they have a need (like many small business owners and security).

My lead magnet is written for COLD traffic group. Sure, those I already do business with will likely download my book, but we’re already engaged. In fact, I may just send them the document to get feed back and provide value.

The COLD CONVERSION is what I am after.

So once that eBook get’s downloaded, I need to know it. From there, a campaign kicks off. Below is a standard 2 step-funnel that does just that… (We use ClickFunnels – one of easiest tools out there for making this happen).

funnel

In the above diagram I’ve sketched out an OPT-IN page followed by a DOWNLOAD page…The download page just may be the most underused page out there.

The prospect expects some type of confirmation, and chances are they WILL read it to get their download. So offer something more...in this case I’ve offered a webinar registration. It too is free, and it brings them one step closer to WARM TRAFFIC.

Here’s a secret…invite cold traffic straight to a webinar and they won’t attend…offer them an ebook, which they will take, but then follow with a webinar, telling them how much time this will save them – they won’t have to read the eBook!!! It’s funny, but true.  People want books; however, people don’t like to read.

If they don’t bite (webinar registration), kick off an email campaign…sell them on the webinar (which could be an everwebinar set up to run automatically – something you can do right inside of your Clickfunnels program).

From there, consider adding other touch points. Hard copy sales letters, phone calls, etc. It’s always easier to follow up on an eBook than it is to set a meeting to discuss your company.

Nobody cares about your company until they’ve received value. Give them the eBook

© 2017 David Stelzl

 

get-more-leadsHow to Sneak Into Your Prospect’s Office Undetected

Using Lead Magnets and Funnels to Launch Your Year Just Might Be Your Best Bet

If you’re following my blog, you know I’ve written several articles over the past few weeks on creating the value proposition, defining your target market, and building your list. These are all necessary steps for a BIG year…

But how do you get new names on your list? That’s today’s topic.

You can buy a list or buy traffic. But what happens when you reach out to that list with cold callers or email? Do leads respond?  And when you introduce yourself from XYZ IT Services Company, does your prospect smile and invite you over for coffee? Probably not….

There has to be something else to get your list warmed up before anyone will want to hear your message. And that’s where lead magnets come in.

GREAT lead magnets are few and far between. That’s good news!!!!

This morning I went searching for great examples of what TO do…do you know I couldn’t find any in our industry? No surprise really, but that means you have an opportunity to race past your competition.

In fact, I just plowed through about 1000 reseller websites, cleaning up a call list I have. I would say that no less that 75% of the websites I hacked (for information purposes only) were down right depressing – Embarrassing. But I will save that for another time…back to lead magnets and list building.

Things You DON’T Want to Offer, If You Want to Attract List

First stop, Google. I figured I would just funnel hack a few IT Services companies. You know, resellers that sell IT Services or MSP solutions.

The first company to pop up on Google’s paid2017-01-13_07-47-36 advertising list was a company called Proactive ITI…Next I did a quick search to make sure they were not one of my clients. Nope! Whew.

They actually do have a homepage that attempts to convert. Two problems. First, the offer is below the fold (meaning you don’t see it unless you scroll down). Second, they have the dreaded FREE ASSESSMENT offer (Which they are calling, A Second Look).

Then (checking their URL on SimilarWeb.Com) I noted that their bounce rate is 100% and their traffic numbers are extremely low. They could probably take down their website and sales wouldn’t be affected.2017-01-13_07-55-05

Next, I clicked on CDI, an IT Integrator in the North east.

Their home page offers NOTHING for conversion, but they do have a landing page.

But again, it’s the Free Network Assessment. I have some inside-track as to how their business is going, and my understanding is that their network assessments are few and far between, with little to no conversion.

Free assessments, white papers (such as the one offered on CrowdStrike’s homepage), and a free tour (like on I found on DFT Data Center’s site) generally don’t work well.

No one is going to believe that your free assessment is worth something if you offer it to anyone who finds you online.

White papers are stale and outdated… And a tour? Who wants to go visit an IT provider just to walk around and look at rack space?

Great Lead Magnet Ideas – Something You Can Start Building Today

So, what makes a great lead magnet?

  • Your book (even if someone writes it for you).
  • Special report on business relevant topics such as The Digital Revolution.
  • Free training session (recorded user awareness training for instance).
  • An infographic on Security. Perhaps a maturity model.
  • Checklist for something relevant.
  • Even a quiz

Notice, white papers don’t work, but special reports do. The book has been my number one conversion tool. I get hundreds of leads by offering my book for $1 online.

And since I do require the $1 payment (which of course is a loss-leader), the prospect is more qualified. Not too many high schoolers are going to pull out their credit card for my book, even if it is just one dollar.

The Everwebinar has also been a high conversion program, but requires a little more effort upfront. So in my case, I am offering the book, and then taking buyers to the webinar.  I have another funnel I use that offers the webinar training first. I’m using that funnel with resellers of a specific brand technology, endorsed by their executive management – so a sort of bridge is created to the cold lead.

What Makes a Lead Magnet Great?

In one word, Relevance.

But it must be consumable too. People love books, but getting someone to read is somewhat of a challenge. And so, leading with a book, followed by a video makes perfect sense.

People want the book, but would rather watch the movie, once they know it’s available.

In addition to relevance, it must be written to convert.

Great sales letters are written using a copywriter style of writing. Copywriting is a style of writing that your English teacher would frown upon. However, it is what sells.

Sometimes the most polished writings and prettiest websites offer no conversion. Commercials written for entertainment attract more spectators than they do buyers. So don’t judge the letter, book, or webpage by it’s ascetic appeal or cool-factor. Conversion is the only metric that matters.

Great marketing starts where the buyer is NOW.

So if the buyer is consumed with customer experience and mobility, that’s where you need to begin. If saving money is top of mind, and cloud seems like the obvious answer, start there.

But then take them where you need them to go. Prospects looking at less expensive MSP solutions are not automatically disqualified, when you think this way. Perhaps you can start with a lower MSP price in your dialogue, then transition to the heart of IT Services (which should be keeping data secure). From there you can offer the assessment.

So the basic MSP service is less per workstation, but the necessary security makes your monthly recurring contract actually more expensive. Will they buy it? With the proper justification, the sale is made. I’ve seen it happen more times than you can imagine.

Other Options…

Can you write a book or put together a  training video? You can. If you don’t write well, or don’t have time, you can always get someone else to write or speak for you. You can do it through a short interview (as I did with one of my clients recently), or you can give an online presentation, record it, and have someone transcribe it.  From there, you will want someone with copywriter skills to edit and punch up your copy.

Remember, no one really likes to read business stuff (well, except for a few weird people like myself). So make sure your written work is exciting, entertaining, and full of great (business relevant) content. Write like you speak, not like a textbook.

Getting Magnets In the Hand’s of Prospects and Converting

Getting your lead magnet out isn’t that hard. I’ve used postcards at events, text opt-ins (also at live events), blog posts full of content with links to get more (code for Lead Magnet), my website homepage, and paid traffic ads on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Subscribe now! and I’ll be filling in the details as we take this journey through 2017…building more funnels and lead magnets to create qualified IT sales appointments!

© 2017, David Stelzl

 

angrybusinessman

Just Because Your Message Is Poor Doesn’t Mean You Should be Selling Harder

What’s Your Value Proposition?

When I look at a reseller’s messaging, I ask myself, “So What?”

Is there a compelling reason to buy here? Will the CPA, doctor, lawyer, or business executive care? Or is this message designed for techies without a budget?

Great Marketing starts where someone is right now…

Then takes them to where you need them to go!

(Discover the Most Effective Security Value Proposition in my Book The House & The Cloud…Special offer)

There are Five Components of an Effective Value Proposition…

But before I get to how to build one, let me share with you one memorable experience where the sales rep was clueless and wasted over 3 hours of his day trying to convince my family to buy…

The Product Guy and His Value Proposition Mismatch

Our vacuum died…It was a bad day at the Stelzl house. 6 Kids (Now 7), all very young, full of energy, and making lots of messes…But it gets worse.

You see, I grew up in an “Electrolux” family…if you’re over 45 you might remember the original Electrolux brand (the current Electrolux is not the same). It was like a cult following…

As a boy, our family bought one vacuum and we used it forever. Electrolux was the Cadillac of vacuum cleaners. These high-end cleaning machines were only sold in-home. Stores didn’t carry them.  They were expensive. However, they lasted forever. In my mind there were no other options.

Jump ahead to life as a married man. Electrolux is not the same company. Having been acquired and cheapened, it’s nothing special…

I tried buying one of the newer models (a whole story in itself), but it just didn’t last like the original I knew as a boy.

With our dead vacuum in hand we needed something fast!

Skipping through all the shopping disappointments, one salesperson stands out, and that’s what I want to focus on here. He’s the Rainbow guy. A reseller of sorts selling high-end hardware.

Rainbow vacuum technology is compelling.   It’s the “Water Vacuum”. You can buy one for about $2000. A refurb might be $650.

Perhaps you’ve seen Rainbow’s demo in your home at some point. My wife came across this amazing water machine while researching healthier vacuuming options. If you’ve studied this out you know that there are some nasty microbes nesting in your rugs, on your beds, and even crawling on your skin.  Under a microscope everything looks like a Creature Double Feature. Yuk!

So the guy shows up…He’s the Product Guy w/ a Value Proposition

Immediately he launches into the technology. His system doesn’t use traditional filters It’s water based filtering technology. Even the smallest microscopic stuff is sucked up, defenseless against this thing.

And then he did the most amazing thing…

He took my vacuum, spread out some dirt on my rug, DISCONNECTED the vacuum hose from the machine, and vacuumed up the dirt! Did you catch that? The vacuum attachment wasn’t even connected!!!!!  But the dirt still disappeared.

His message was obvious. Our the traditional vacuum was just pushing the dirt into the rug to make it look clean. Hmmm. (Pretty cool sales strategy…you have to admit).

But there was just one problem. He didn’t understand us. Here we were, sitting in the living room of a two story house, with 6 kids (we have 7 now), all quite young at the time, and going crazy.

All we could do was try to keep up with everything including homeschooling all of the kids. With all the busyness, our kids did a lot of the cleaning, but we had toys, schools supplies, and stray sock everywhere (Legos and all kinds of tiny army men all over the floor).

So, when I asked him to let me pick this thing up, I found out it weighed a TO! “How are my kids going to transport this thing up and down the stairs?  It’s a daily occurrence that the vacuum is upstairs and there’s a spill in the kitchen.”

“Well,” he replied. “You might have to get it for them…”.

Then, what about emptying the water after vacuuming (something that must be done after each use)? “You just dump it in the woods,” was his answer.

Outside?  Who’s going to do that? And what about when it’s snowing or freezing outside?

“Well, you might have to do that too.” Whoa…

And then the final blow, “What about all the Legos and army men that are going to get sucked up into that monstor? What do we do about that?”

“Well, you could run the water through a stainer or something.”

Are you kidding? With all kinds of fuzz, hair balls, and food particles, you expect me to be out in a rain or ice storm,  straining toys out of dirty water? (Are you picturing this?)

TOTAL DISCONNECT….

You see the problem here. His technology is great. But for a family with a bunch of little ones, homeschooling, etc., operational efficiency is what’s important. Not than getting dust mites out of carpeting (Even if the rep things otherwise.)

What was my wife thinking? Did this sales guy have a clue?

Where were we (mentally) at the moment he came through our door? We were busy, stressed out, needing relief. The Rainbow guy probably should have greeted us, observed the chaos, and admitted, “This is not a great solution for a family like ours,” and moved on.

On the other hand, the wiser rep would have approached our home, not with cleaning technology, but with ease of use.

Operational efficiency is one of the 4 THINGS BUYERS BUY (from my book, From Vendor to Adviser). And then (knowing there are hundreds of lightweight vacuums) he might have focused on longevity, knowing we can’t afford for this thing to be out of commission for even one day with all of these kids. And from there, moving to a risk mitigation sale…

You want your kids to be healthy, right? Vacuuming keeps the allergens down so your kids will be healthier! And families that have easy-to-use vacuums, vacuum…in fact, the kids will do it all, if you let them.

Here’s a Simple Strategy for Getting Your Value Proposition Together. It has 5 5Components.

1. Trends

Trends are like sound bites. They bring credibility. But remember, great marketing starts where someone is right now. So using the marketing Avatar I discussed a week ago, you are choosing trends and sound bites that matter to that person.

But, facts alone are NOT that interesting.

In fact, if you call on the CIO, he probably knows what’s going on in the news before you do. So, coming up with a news-bite that matter won’t be easy.

I talk more about Sound Bites and how to use them in my book, The House & the Cloud [Page 69]. READ it, DO what I’ve recommend, and people WILL see you as the expert! (That coveted TRUSTED ADVISOR status).

Instead of just quoting day-old news, take your sound bite and add some INSIGHT to it. Matthew Dixon in his book, The  Challenger Customer, does a great job of explaining why insights are so powerful and how to use them in the sales process.

The bottom line , INSIGHT is what grabs a prospect’s attention.  For instance, the vacuum guy might have looked at our crazy home and quoted a statistic on how infrequently the average home is vacuumed and why that creates an overabundance of health issues. (Sound Bite).

His [insight] would then be, “That’s because most vacuums are so hard to use. Only the parents can vacuum and they don’t have time. But mine is so easy, even a child can operate it. In fact, most kids think vacuuming is fun. My kids wanted for toy vacuum for Christmas. So I give him a real one and now he cleans for us.” What mom would ignore an insight like that?

2. What I See (Further Insight)

What have you observed? Your client lives in a vacuum of sorts. They don’t get out much. So they don’t get to see what you see.

Failed IT projects, IT Budget overruns, poor IT decisions, major security disasters and system downtime,… the list goes on. If you’ve been in this industry any length of time (and have been taking notes) you have wisdom you are probably take for granted.

Think of yourself as the hub or portal of IT wisdom and insight.

(And if you are not that person, become him. You have everything you need to be the go-to source for IT strategy and chances are you competition isn’t doing anything with this knowledge.)

Note: CRN, MSP White Papers, and Continuum & Kaseya data sheets

are not a substitute for personal development.

So what are you seeing? A digital transformation is taking place without regard for real security. Malware is traveling surreptitiously through a global maze of routers and switches, undetected. And is hitting companies where they can’t see it until it’s too late.

3. My Concern (Great Place to Shed a Tear)

Are you concerned for your clients? This is where the Successful sales people stand out. They care…do you?

When your client senses that you actually care about their business, and that you are in fact passionate about helping them survive, it shows. The rep who is just after another product sale ($$$$) to make quota falls short here.

So, take a moment and consider why you are in this industry. If you believe you can help people, then start focusing on their problems and helping them find lasting solutions.

If the Rainbow guy really cared about us, he would not have told me to take point on transporting his dinosaur, and cleaning out filthy water in the middle of the night, in the snow, with a strainer (YUK!) Instead, he would have admitted that his product wasn’t a good fit for our situation.

4. What We Are Doing About It (Your Lab)

What you are doing is coming up with solutions. At least I hope you are.

Anyone can sell JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disk). But what about securing data and keeping people from cybertheft?

Is your company looking at the best ways to secure a small business? Or ways of providing security intelligence to a mid-market or enterprise account?

As a sales rep, it’s your responsibility to study. When I drive or fly I am constantly listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and recorded coaching sessions. That’s right. I do everything I tell my clients to do.

I offer monthly programs to keep my clients on top through webinars, podcasts, blogs, and training programs. But I also subscribe to several programs (Which I personally fund) for my own business to keep me moving in the right direction.

College never ended for me. I’m taking new classes every day! I hope you are.

5. Specific to You

Now it’s time to apply this to the client.

Here’s what I say. “As I see your company (Fill in something like, moving into the cloud or going through a digital transformation), I believe you will be at risk if you don’t take steps to ensure (Fill in something here such as assessing your risk levels with the impact vs. likelihood graph, another concept from The House & Cloud).”

At this point you should have the client’s interest and a proposed next step. In most cases you’ll move to an assessment or discovery process to validate your concern in their situation. (Impact vs. Likelihood).

Write It, Memorize It, Use It…

Your value proposition should be powerful and well rehearsed.

Only the “Specific to you” needs to be modified. The trends/insights are updated occasionally, and the “What we’re doing” changes slowly over time as your company’s solutions evolve.  Minor changes should be made as you observe your target market’s response.

Effective selling demands a strong value proposition, not more brute-force selling. If you’re staring to sound like a used car sales person, it might be you just don’t have a great message and you are trying to make up for it with manipulating sales tactics.  Join us in the SVLC Insider’s Circle Facebook Group and let’s collaborate on your message for 2017!

© 2017, David Stelzl

salesWhen You Sell, Are You Lying?

Last week I wrote about “5 Things Not to Say” as a reseller…you need a better value proposition but you can’t afford to lie about it. You’ll be found out and it will destroy your business. A good name is hard to establish. It’s harder to recover.  What’s your value proposition? Why should I buy from you? Some common lies…

 

We’re Better Than Everyone Else

If you resell technology and provide managed IT, it’s common to think you’re better than everyone else out there.

But is that really true?

No one knows. How can you measure the best reseller? Unless you’ve worked for both companies there’s really know way to know. If you’re both on Amazon in the form of a book there will be ratings and comparisons. But your business isn’t a book or gadget. So don’t say, “We’re the best.”

Instead, consider some alternatives:

  • Our customer satisfaction ratings are 5 star! Chances are you competition didn’t bother the poll their clients. Set yourself apart!
  • We have CISSPs on staff. Chances of smaller resellers carrying this level of certification are low. SANS.Org certs are equally impressive.
  • We provide a 100% money back guarantee. So there’s no risk. Can you say  that?
  • Show them customer testimonials expounding on how great you are.  Your customer can say “You’re the best,” you can’t.

The Price is $X. Is It Really?

Are you discounting when the pressure’s on?

Telling your prospect the price is $1000/month and then cutting it in half to get the deal is dishonest. If the price is $1000, it is. If it’s $500, then say so. Cutting your price to get the deal leaves your prospect wondering if they now have the best price.

Instead, consider these alternatives:

  • The price is too high, so cut the scope or change the payment options.
  • Add something to the deal pro-bono to prove your quality (but don’t add a monthly feature). For instance, waving your fee for an assessment lowers the up front price, but is not technically a discount.
  • If in the end the competition has better pricing, remind your prospect that low-ball pricing either means the competition is desperate and can’t deliver the same quality for the price they’ve quoted or they have less expensive people, which also means lower quality.
  • If your prospect chooses the low price provider ask to reconnect in a year to see how things are going. If the other company really can deliver the same quality at a lower price your prospect has made a wise choice…but it’s unlikely. There are no “apples to apples” comparisons when dealing with people, culture, and personality.

You Provide Security and Disaster Recovery Services

Do you really? Selling firewalls and providing security are not the same thing. Offering backup and recovery is not disaster recovery.  Yet I see these claims all the time on reseller websites.

Learn what your customers really need and then study out the fine lines that distinguish different offerings and descriptions.

For instance, pen tests and vulnerability assessments are often sold as risk assessments. But if risk is not quantified in the report the client is left without a measure of risk. When I explain this difference using the impact vs. likelihood graph in my book, The House & The Cloud (Pg. 194) the response is predictable. It’s an ah-ha moment for the client. One that often leads to conversion.

In the coming weeks I’ll be showing you have to create compelling message  that is truthful and high-impact…stay tuned!

©2016, David Stelzl