Archives For Wise Counsel

I Spent the Last Several Days With Some of The Top Marketers In The Small Business Space…Here’s What I Learned

Shaun Buck, Kim Walsh Philips, Dave Dee… You may not recognize these names, but they all have one thing in common…they’ve built some really successful businesses!

This week I had the opportunity to spend a few days with all three of them – If you’re on my mailing list and get my newsletter, you know I send out a monthly hardcopy letter.

Shaun Buck, President and Founder of NewsletterPro was my inspiration to do this several years back…You’ll be amazed when you hear what he shared with me this week – it’s in the video above!

Copyright 2018, David Stelzl

P.S. You should read his book! Get it free right here and he’ll even send you his hardcopy newsletter! CLICK


img_4248What’s Your Value Proposition?

Have You Ever Tested it With Customers?

Or are you just going off what some other seemingly successful VAR is doing.

This business is incestuous.

Resellers meet with each other quarterly copying each other’s ideas without actually testing anything.

It’s also deceptive. 

The 1 million dollar reseller looks enviously to the 10 million dollar reseller for direction. But the fact is revenue is meaningless with privately held companies working on single digit margins.

Everyone Has The Same Value Proposition, “Our People Are Better”.

At Ingram ONE this week I’ve met with numerous resellers. It seems like everyone has the same value proposition. Some more sophisticated or sporting bigger certs but at the end of the day everyone looks the same on paper.

Is Your Marketing Working? What About Sales?

Conversion is the measure of success. If your website doesn’t pull in leads it’s broken. If your assessments don’t readily convert to business they’re useless. If your first meeting presentation doesn’t convert to something great it should be trashed. And if your prospecting efforts (cold calling or whatever) are not landing meetings it’s time to reengineer the process.

There are 4 Value Propositions,  Only 2 Work…

in this economy. I list all four in The House & The Cloud, however these two are what you need to know:

  • Risk Mitigation
  • Customer Experience (a form of competitive advantage)

The second points to custom software and digital connectedness with the customer. It’s Amazon morphed into whatever business you’re calling on. The other is minimizing risk.

Different types of risk exist in different vertical markets. The bank is more concerned with account balances being off. Healthcare wants to know life support systems are up and patient privacy is sure.

Stop thinking your people are better, your workflow if more efficient, or that your IT Service Offering somehow provides a more efficient way to handle IT.  It might all be true, however the business owner or CIO is not going to see it as unique.

© 2016, David Stelzl

img_4237The Next Big Opportunity for Resellers Is Security

IDC Reports Show That Tradition Infrastructure Sales Are On the Decline

Here in Scottsdale Arizona this week, I was invited to present at the Avnet Partner Summit. The session before mine, delivered by Meredith Whalen of IDC, was extremely eye-opening. A wake-up call to all resellers.

A couple of key take aways…

  • There’s a shift taking place from what she called 2nd platform to 3rd.  One resellers won’t easily make.  She’s talking about a significant decline in the demand for servers and on-premise storage or other data center/network product sales.  Instead, resellers should be gearing up for 3rd platform – meaning, IoT, Cloud, Analytics, Robotics, Cognitive Systems, and of course – Security.
  • The security market is changing too. In my session I talked about how these transformational technologies are opening up huge holes in the security architecture. Next generation security means delivering a clear measurement of risk, and then providing your clients with security intelligence.
  • The customer is also changing. She called for more interaction at the line of business level.  Businesses are mostly focused on Customer Experience right now – something that is driving the digitalization megatrend.  But this sale is largely a software sale – custom software. Traditional resellers can either build it, or head toward services like cloud and security management. Trying to work your way into other 3rd platform areas such as robotics (which is expanding far beyond manufacturing) won’t be easy, however now is the time to start thinking about your future solution strategy.

The Big Hurdle in all of This is Retooling the Sales Team

Having provided sales enablement and marketing strategy services for over 13 years now, I agree with Whalen when she says, sales people can be retooled! However, she also said to expect 50% of your sales team to not make the transition. That’s a big number.

My take on this is simply – most people would be able to make the transition if they believed they needed to. The problem is, most sales people have stopped reading, stopped studying (except for the free product centric training delivered by product vendors), and have stopped investing in their own careers with continuing education.

One simple fact should clear it up – every CIO reads the Wall Street Journal, yet it is rare that I meet someone in sales who does. When I ask a group, “Can anyone tell me what’s going on in the CIO office right now? What’s the big transformation taking shape in their job description?” No one can answer me.  It should be obvious. The WSJ is writing about it almost every day.

© 2016, David Stelzl


gkic-info-2016The Secret to Picking Up Tons of Leads at An Event

Do You Really Think Prospects Enter Your Card Info Into Their “Contacts Database” When They Return From Trade Shows and Sales Events? Stop Kidding Yourself.

I just returned from a week long marketing workshop in San Antonio.  1000 business owners all gathered together with one goal. Get more prospects.

As you can imagine, there were lots of vendors. People trying to sell us everything you can imagine to automate our marketing systems.  CRMs, funnel software, planning software, consulting services…the list goes on.

Through the week I made lots of connections. I made connections with people running the event, peers, peers who are way ahead of me and who might be able to provide some insight, and vendors (both good and bad).  But this morning as I sit down to sift through my bag of information, cards, and notes (and lots of dirty laundry), it’s hard to know where to start.

The worst part of it is, there’s also 100s of email to follow up on after being out of the office or so long. I find myself thrashing…but I have wisely carved out the morning to focus on reviewing my notes, with my email application closed!

What Will I do With All of These Cards?

So, to start, I have all of these cards. Last night as I was drifting off to sleep I remembered that the last speaker had promised he would send me his slides when I filled out his landing page. I filled it out, but did not get the slides. Funny how that one guy kept me awake thinking about it, until I finally got up and wrote myself a note.

Then, this morning first thing…before running or breakfast, or anything, I found him on LinkedIn and requested the slides. I couldn’t wait!

Here’s the thing. I have a pile of cards in front of me, but I don’t really remember anyone…there just cards. Will I enter them into my CRM? Probably not. They’re meaningless at this point. But the guy who spoke yesterday, his session was so compelling, I followed up with him!

How many IT directors, CIOs, or Business Owners do you think will actually take time to enter your contact info into their system when they get home with a pile like I have? Probably none of them.

Stop Handing Out Cards

The speaker has an advantage, but not all of the speakers did their job. Two of them gave me a text number right in their presentation – right at the height of their talk, to Opt-In.  I responded both times!  If you’re speaking…think about conversion using something other than a card.

What if you’re not speaking?  You need an offer they can’t resist. Something no one else has.  In my last event I gave everyone a 3 by 5 card with an offer to get my book for $1.  That’s my new business card for events. No sense in handing them a card that looks like every other card. Instead, use a larger card that offers them something so compelling, it’s at the top of their list when they get home.  And make sure you hand it to them…if it goes in a bag of stuff, they may never find it…

© 2016, David Stelzl



Live Marketing Events Work

But Only If You Treat Them Like Direct Response Marketing

Every week I talk with sales people who are involved in setting up lunch & learns. In some cases they have an audience building, in other cases, they’re struggling to get people to attend.  But in just about all cases, no thought has been given to the conversion plan.

A Word On Sponsoring Vendors and Why They Should Never Be Your Speaker

Your sponsors – Vendors who supply MDF, are looking for an ROI – Return on Investment. It’s interesting to me that their demands are more often than not, to get a speaking slot. I guess they think that by speaking they have more control over the message. But the truth is, their message is not designed to convert anyone to a sale.

They’re top direct sales people likely have great selling skills, but those attending your event most likely don’t. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great channel managers or SEs, and it doesn’t ding their technical knowledge.  It simply means they don’t really know how to close a CIO or small business owner.  Why should they. It’s not in their job description.  (Of course some vendor partners do staff one or two keynote speakers – but getting one of them assigned to your account is not easy.)

Do You Have A Solid Conversion Plan?

Direct Response means, there’s a conversion plan, and you plan to measure it. I was recently talking to a channel manager about events. He made the statement, ” We pay for this – it doesn’t cost the reseller anything!” Wow, very short sighted. It’s expensive to run an event. Even if the reseller has no cash expenses. The time spent on the phone, writing invitations, and even attending they event, is costly to the hosting company. Everyone has skin in the game. So what’s the conversion plan? If it’s good, the ROI is strong and the cost is meaningless. It’s an investment with a strong return, like buying land in a growing city.

In just about every case, when I ask what the event is suppose to drive, the answer is – conversations or call backs. “We hope they’ll call us when they have a need.”

Don’t count on it. Out of sight, out of mind. The fact is, they have a need right now – it’s security. There may be other needs across the group, but this one is predictable in every account. The question is, can you move them in your one hour meeting?

Selling From The Platform Has Already Been Tested

Selling from the platform is what speakers do. If you are doing a live event, you have a speaker. If they understand the speaking industry, they know that all speakers, at least the successful ones, have learned to sell from the front of the room. We call this, “Selling from the platform.”

It’s a proven fact that if you let your audience go home without closing, they won’t be back. Maybe 2%, but not enough to call the event a success. A speaker who closes less than 25% of his audience on something, goes home feeling like he failed to close.  Does your event speaker feel the same?

Here are some statistics from my own experience.  If I make an offer and follow up by phone, it’s going to be a 2% conversion. If I have them line up in the back or go online to order, it might be 20%. If I get them to sign up by asking them while they’re listening, my close goes up to 75 and sometimes 90 or 100%.

Don’t waste your time on events with no conversion plan. Instead, start with your conversion. Convert to what? Convert to something – my favorite is the assessment.  It’s a next step that offers value and builds justification for future involvement.

Next ask, “What will cause my group to convert?” The speaker’s job is to make this conversion, but everything surrounding the speaker also encourages the conversion.  So do you need 3 speakers to convert? No. You need one – the best one.  Should your event go all day, or is one hour long enough. Test it. Find the sweet spot – where conversion numbers seem highest. Then, repeat the process over and over until you have a predictable sales model in place.

© 2016, David Stelzl

More on this process in my book, The House & The Cloud…and you can pick up Digital Money, a book built to convert your clients!


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



numbersHow Many Meetings Are You Getting Per Month?

How Many New Clients Have You Picked Up Over the Past 12 Months?

I hear this all the time, “It’s a number’s game.” If you make 60 calls, or some say 100, then you should get 4 – 6 meetings each month, and 1 will close. That’s the silliest thing I’ve hear in a long time. It’s like saying, if I put enough quarters in the slot machine, I’ll eventually win. Odds are odds. It doesn’t matter how many times you flip a coin, the odds of landing on heads are always 50%.

Not Numbers, Think Strategy and Value

Here’s the hard truth. If you have something people really need, know who to communicate to and how to communicate, you’ll connect. If they really need it, they’ll buy it. If you sell them something they really don’t need, they’ll figure it out. If your offering isn’t great, they’ll leave you shortly after signing.$1 HC Book Ad

In my newest book – Digital Money, due out in a couple of weeks, I explain to business leaders exactly why they need to rethink security. I show them what’s going on inside their organization that is destined to lead to disaster. And then I tell them why they can’t fix this internally, and what to look for in an IT service provider.

If you want to know what that service provider looks like, I explain the whole thing in my book, The House & The Cloud.

Don’t Be Fooled

The number’s game leads to business failure. Gartner, The WSJ, and many others are telling us, “The cloud is here, adapt or lose.” Margins on MSP business are shrinking. And don’t expect the data center business to come back next year. I heard that from someone yesterday. It’s not going to happen any time soon.

© 2016, David Stelzl