Archives For channel

Pictures From the WatchGuard 2019 SKO Meeting in Seattle!

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Heading Back to NC

Back from a week-long tour, with a video recap of the Cisco Partner Meeting, held in Las Vegas at the Rio…in conjunction with the BlackHat and Defcon 2011 events…to the Left, a shot of the Vegas strip from the airport!

Check out the video recap below….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2011, David Stelzl

Here it is… (CLICK)…The play back from my Wednesday, June 8, 2011 Webinar on leveraging the discovery process!  I understand from Cisco that last month’s playback, which is also available through this link, was the most listened to webinar in Cisco history – so check it out!  (In case you missed this – I usually put a red phone with webinar and teleseminar links).

© 2011, David Stelzl

Join me on June 8th at noon EST – Leveraging the Discovery Process to gain access to decision makers (CLICK to SIGN UP).  I will be building on material presented over the past several months, but you can always go back and review sessions you might have missed.  In this one hour session I will be covering important concepts such as:

1. Types of questions to ask asset owners and executive managers

2. How to avoid getting demoted to IT in the discovery process

3. When and how to engage the IT group in this process

4. What to do with data collected in both

5. How to deliver your findings

6. How to present your findings and recommendations

7. How to turn this process into fee based business and product sales

Don’t miss this!  It’s funded by Cisco and costs you nothing but time…sign up here (CLICK)

© 2011, David Stelzl

If you sell, you should be reading Wall Street…that is, if you want to call on decision makers.  This morning’s article on Cisco is important information if you resell Cisco, especially when your clients start asking, “Should we stay with Cisco?”  Statements like:

  • …shares languishing at 1998 levels
  • …the company’s problems run much deeper than a few disappointing quarters
  • …a byzantine management structure
  • Mr. Chambers…seems to be repeating mistakes.

These are tough accusations.  In Rolfe Winkler’s article he notes that most of Cisco’s revenue comes from core networking, and Juniper is taking market share.  Is the product bad?  I don’t think so – core networking is a commodity business and Cisco has been the long standing champion and has delivered strong networking technology – still does.  I can’t comment on the reasons why market share is slipping – perhaps Wall Street has a good handle on this.  However, my video recorded just about one hear ago – The History of the Channel stands out in all of this.  The reseller must have a value proposition that does more than point to a vendor’s product.  Recent Cisco acquisitions and their move away from security over the past decade (which I see is starting to rekindle) have put resellers in competition with their other vendors (like HP), but have not given them discontinuous innovation to take to market (such as Unified Communications eleven years ago).  This has placed the Cisco resellers in the middle of Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Life-Cycle, where margins are at their nadir, and competition – it’s zenith.  What is the solution?

Your value proposition must proceed the product sale.  Helping clients solve business problems is a business level sale.  Technology is used to help solve the problem, but only after the theory has been sold.  None of this depends on a vendor brand…their brand “stamps” stability on the solution once that phase of the project comes into play.  So what should resellers be selling?  Risk mitigation, ROI, Efficiency, competitive advantage…the same 4 things I’ve been writing about for years.  It’s your brand that matters at the start of the sale, and your position as an adviser will largely determine which product gets the budget.

I’d love to hear your comments on this article!

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo taken by David Stelzl

A couple of attendees emailed questions regarding competitive advantage…following Wednesday’s Cisco sponsored webinar.  I thought it might be helpful to address this here:

(Q) Why is Operational Efficiency or Risk Mitigation easier to sell than Competitive advantage?

First, it’s important to note, I did not say you can’t sell using competitive advantage as your value proposition, but rather, operational efficiency and risk mitigation are preferable; at least to the average sales person.  Here’s why…

Companies can use technology to compete, however this type of advantage is often short lived unless the company deploys some type of unique patented technology; something their competition can’t go out and buy tomorrow.  More often than not, technology driven competitive advantage is really an operational efficiency gained by the perfection or automation of some process.  So in the end, it’s really an operational efficiency sale, that in-part, delivers competitive advantage, in addition to delivering cost efficiencies (which their competition will either adopt or find another way to accomplish).  The technology sales person’s ability to foresee such an advantage in a complex manufacturing situation (for instance) is not so likely.  (Again, speaking of the average rep calling across many verticals).

True competitive advantages are seen when a larger company has more buying power, putting others out of business by squeezing their margins such as is the case with the Home Depot stores competing with smaller hardware stores.  Wal*Mart does this by putting highly efficient distribution processes in place that are unaffordable by the average mom and pop store in your local area.  While Wal*Mart may have some unique applications in place, their infrastructure isn’t really unique, just unaffordable to smaller companies.  The process itself is key, and unique as it is cost prohibitive to the smaller company.

Operational efficiency in itself may offer competitive advantage as seen above, and the seller can use this to gain momentum on the purchase, but the efficiency is more easily articulated by the seller.  To go down the competitive advantage road with technology sales may require a deep understanding of the vertical’s market pressures.  Perhaps if the sales person has come out of that industry, they’ll have success with this.

Competitive advantages not tied to operational efficiency, which stand alone as a true advantage that cannot be duplicated, may come in the form of location such as the best corner owned by McDonalds, exclusive distribution of a product, or patented technology such as the iPad and Mac OS.  These advantages are not easily matched.  Will Dell come out with a better laptop than Mac?  Probably not (in my opinion), however they certainly have a less expensive one.   Note how first to market has earned Apple 90% of the market on tablet computers!  This won’t be easy to steal.  This is hard to match when selling commodity goods which are largely over distributed in the VAR/Reseller world.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Ipad – Here are some sound bites: (Source: Wall Street Journal)

1 year old

90% market share

14.8 million devices sold

9.5 Billion in revenue in one year!

200 Million Apple Accounts world wide

And a new version out this month while the competition is still scrambling to compete with the first  release.

Innovation is key.  At the 2011 RSA conference, one of the most interesting presentations came from the founder of Palo Alto, Nir Zuk.  He talked about innovation, and repeatedly asked his audience who was using what – brands of cell phones, operating systems, etc.  Through this interaction he showed that many of the technology leaders just aren’t innovating any more, and people are moving to new technology – following the innovators.  These companies that lack innovation stand to lose significant market share if they continue.  This is a wake up call…not just to those with an iPad look-a-like, but for Microsoft and anyone else with significant market share.  Companies that are innovating will win over time.  The problem is, many of these new innovations compete with the margins resellers have depended on!

Example:  How many resellers are still selling PCs to make a profit.  Perhaps yours doesn’t, but there are thousands of SMB focused resellers still in this game.  Will they start selling iPads?  Well, maybe, but that is not very strategic.  A $500 device, already set up with an operating system that doesn’t require a daily reboot to recover from the blue-screen isn’t going to make up for the loss.  And with other technologies commoditizing and companies like Google putting free tools online (Have you tried Google Apps?), the market is bound to change – expect resellers to be out of business within a year if they are waiting on the economy to pick up, hoping to be placed back into the business they drove two years ago.

Innovation for Apple means, new cool looking products that appeal to the new mobile generation.  But to the reseller and high-tech sales person, it means finding new ways to help clients innovate, automate, secure, and become efficient.  It means finding new areas to help companies with technology that puts them ahead of their competition and cuts cost out of their current IT program.  And it means helping them secure what they have before they lose everything.

© 2011, David Stelzl