Archives For channel partner

One of the most effective ways for resellers and channel partners to market  demand generation events is by video. Using  a video like the one below, resellers can contact those who have not responded in the past,  giving them a taste of what they missed – it can also be used as a follow up for those who don’t attend as a way to gain a meeting to review the event.  This clip was filmed following a luncheon for business executives in the mid-Atlantic region, where over 50 business leaders met to learn about the growing threats of cybercrime, receiving critical information on how to help prevent further attacks on their data.  Close to 90% of these attendees received complementary assessments to pin point major threats in their current data environment.

© 2011, David Stelzl


August is almost here, and I want to thank Cisco for sponsoring me to speak to a select group of their partners…Seating is limited, but if you sell Cisco and plan to attend either the BlackHat or Defcon conferences this year, you can register here to attend this special session on selling security solutions.

We are meeting at the Rio on August 4th – in the evening; the location of this years BlackHat conference.  I’ll be covering some of the strategies and materials I personally use as I meet with executives all over the US, showing them why companies, no matter how much they spend on security, continue to be victimized by hackers.  I will also show you how my clients are leveraging this material to gain access to decision makers, and how justification is created to move forward.  Please plan to join me – I look forward to seeing you there!

Sign up Here (Click) while there are still seats available.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Is your brand memorable?

Some have tried to brand by offering lower prices, others with great customer satisfaction, or by building great relationships with their clients.  I see companies touting great people, certifications, or their status as a reseller of some product.  “We are gold partners”, or “Platinum and security certified!”  But these things don’t work as unique branding contributors.  Your business, and you yourself must offer something unique or represent something people see as unique and compelling.  Uniqueness comes with specialization; a unique process, or intellectual capital that others don’t possess, or something about you that adds to your ability, character, or appeal.  You have a product or an approach no one else has.

I was on the phone with a client the other day, and at the start of our call to discuss our first contract (recently signed), she said, I have heard you speak before!  It had dawned on her just a day or two ago as she was lying in bed. She remembered me as “The guy with seven kids and one wife, who home schools and has his children involved in all kinds of entrepreneurial businesses.”    In this case it was my personal story that caught her attention.  She couldn’t remember my name, but my story was fresh on her mind and memorable. The fact that I have children is not impressive, the seven children is somewhat memorable, the businesses are highly memorable, especially when combined with my seven kids who are homeschooled.  People remember this and it works. It adds to my credibility simply because, if I can help teenagers start profitable businesses, perhaps I can help anyone.

What makes your story unique and memorable?  This is the key to your brand…and a business without a brand, is on it’s way out of business.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Var and the Vendor

February 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

When I first entered the technology consulting business, my new manager referred to our firm as a VAR (value added reseller).  VAR!  He said it with pride as though it meant something special.  Coming from a large bank where we referred to our services providers as vendors and VARs, I knew this was no complement.  Yet our manager seemed to take pride in something that, on the client side was viewed as a commodity.   I soon learned that, on the provider side, VARs were partnered with vendors, but in my heart, I knew the client perceived us all as one thing – the vendor!  Simply put, we didn’t see any value in those we called vendors and there was no such thing as “Value-Add”; vendors provided people and products at the lowest possible price, and free lunches on occasion. This is not the way to position your company if you are looking to build a profitable business.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Discount Trap

October 28, 2010 — 2 Comments

Are these cars really on sale?  Quick, let’s run down and get one…I remember the first car I bought off the lot.  I was just graduating college and I told my father about a big sale they were having at a local dealer.  He looked at me…I could see what he was thinking.  “Didn’t I just pay to put you through college?”

How many people drive away from the car dealer feeling like they got a great deal?  It never happens.  Why?  We don’t trust people that sell cars because the entire sales process appears to be dishonest.  You drive up, there is always a sale going on with some silly inflated monkey in the parking lot, the sticker price is meaningless and the sale price is a deception.  Between Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book, we now know that car dealer sales, their “invoice price”,  and the margins they’ve claimed are all lies.  There was margin in the mystery of car pricing, but that mystery has almost completely disappeared leaving dealerships with one of the worst reputations in sales.  Even the line, “Preowned” is ridiculous.

Discounting is a trap.  No one expects to pay list on Cisco or HP products, and most know what to expect in terms of street price.  Well, you can’t really control the street price as a rep, but you can help position your firm as one of integrity by dealing with consulting prices properly.  Here are some principles to consider when proposing project work:

1. As I wrote yesterday, fix price all services.  T&M means “dollars per hour” and is a commodity business. Avoid this trap on high-end tech project work. (These prices should only be used in staff-aug work).

2. Price based on value.  Don’t deliver prices until both parties know and agree on the value.  In other words, don’t short cut the discovery process just because the client needs a quote now.  If you’re wrong you lose.

3. Once the price is submitted, stick to it.  If you quote $10,000 and then come back with $7000 for the same scope, you just lied.  You said it would cost 10K but now you’ve changed your mind.  It really costs 7K.  Is 7K really it, or can I get you to cave some more?  And what will happen next time you quote?  Are you going to say, “This time I am giving you my final price?”  Do you see how silly this sounds?

4. If the price is too high, one of two things happened.  The value changed in the mind of the customer (or something else just trumped it), or you didn’t gain agreement with the true decision maker before quoting the price.  This happens, so now what?  You must change the scope!  Either do it in phases, change the deliverable, change the person doing the work,…but change something.  You can’t win by discounting…instead you become their car dealer’s peer.

5. If in the end they can’t afford you, leave them wishing they could afford you.

At times customers have said, I can get the same thing for 20% less from another firm.  In the speaking industry I often hear, “We can get an event or “lunch and learn” speaker from the manufacturer for FREE!”  But is it the same?  Of course not….sell the value.  “If you can get the same thing for free or 20% less, go for it!  But you can’t and here’s why.”  Then be ready with your value proposition.  If it’s great, you will either win or leave them believing they have second best.  Both should be seen as acceptable outcomes.

© 2010, David Stelzl

Finishing up in Singapore today, I spent my day following up with class attendees, meeting with the class sponsors and stakeholders, and catching up on some work to prepare for my trip to Bangalore.  In addition, I took some time to visit the shopping areas surrounding my hotel in the shopping district.  Singapore has an amazing network of underground tunnels similar to a NYC subway system, but with a much cleaner and modern appeal.  The picture to the left was taken 3 stories underground at a food court featuring all kinds of Asian food choices.

Feedback from class stakeholders included:

1. Presales people are used to putting their focus on a point product.  They become great at demos and evals, but the larger deals are going to require their presence higher in the organization.  The messaging  focus from our class is rare but greatly needed.

2. Account reps will value presales resources more as they demonstrate their effectiveness as consultants – getting up in front of the class the present was a great step toward doing just that, but practice is needed.  People become great presenters when they commit to practice and feedback.

3. Competition is the security space is fierce.  The ability to gain access to decision makers it critical – this class was a great first step to getting there.

4. It’s difficult to take 3 days out of the field, but necessary.  You can cut all day, but if your saw is dull, you won’t make much progress.  It’s better to stop periodically and fine tune things.

Travel Plans:

This evening I’ll be heading to Bangalore for the final leg of my trip this month.  Bangalore is fast becoming a high-tech growth area in our global economy!  it’s a 4 hour flight with a 2 hour time change…and I’m looking forward to great customer service on Singapore Air!  The hardest part of this job is leaving a city and group of people after having established new friends and familiarity with the surroundings.

Just returning from my Dallas event with Ingram Micro…what a great trip and event!  Ingram Micro always does a great job hosting these types of programs for it’s reseller community…a few follow-up notes on my talk for those who attended and even those who did not…

There is a time to charge for assessments!

1. When the fee is commensurate with the sales effort

2. When the scope includes stake-holder level people who can see it through to remediation

3. When an assessment is required by law or internal policy

There is also a time to give it away…While some people hesitate to provide anything complementary, this may be short sighted…

1. Demonstrated by three assessments I was personally involved in, I showed one that sold for $125K – no remediation work followed, however the GP was extremely high given the efficiency of the deliverable.  In sample 2, I sold the deal for $36,000 – however, given my inexperience at the time (this was over 15 years ago), we disengaged from the buyer and produced a report that did not meet his expectations.  They never paid, and we took a loss.  In the third sample, the assessment was done for free, however it landed $32,000 in remediation and $7000/month in recurring managed services work with a three year contract.  Which would you choose?

2. For smaller assessment opportunities – SMB level business, it often makes sense to perform the assessment at no fee.  If your opportunity will sell for $2500 or $3500, an experience had by more than half of my audience, I showed that the amount of GP in the deal is not worth the trade off in control of the process.  While I do make somewhere in the range of $1500 to $2000 in GP (if I really know what I’m doing), the client controls the process simply because they’ve paid for it.  If I do it for free, I can demand time with any asset owner in the organization, both as part of the discovery as well as in the delivery, where I sell the remediation and managed services.  At any point, if management disengages, I can stop the process.  It’s free, so it’s my call.  In this case, the profit does not justify the sales time unless follow-up work is sold.

3. Finally, never give the assessment away – it’s not really free.  Not to contradict point 2, but to require a trade of services.  In the case of an event, executive attendance justifies a complementary assessment.  There may be other situations that do the same.  But don’t devalue your service by advertising free assessments.  Put a price tag on it and perform it as a gift for those willing to invest the time and energy at the right level.  Discernment is required – but in the end, you’ll create the justification needed.

4. Finally, the deliverable must sell the next step.  This is never a technical paper.  Data supports the case, however the measurement of risk must be delivered in a compelling business case document.  It’s like going for angel investor money.  You’ll need the support of economic buyers to move forward, so treat this as a marketing process and remember, it is your job to convince management if there’s a serious risk at hand, not IT’s.