Archives For David Stelzl

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We just wrapped up an awesome event in Vancouver, thanks to the Tech Data Team and Tech Select Members!

Yesterday I presented 4 key concepts resellers must execute on if they want to keep growing, or reignite a dying MSP business.

In case you missed it, I did provide a free Assessment Template you’ll want to download

(Click to download it here)

What are the 4 areas? 

First, how to use assessments. Over dinner, Dale Cline, President of BlackStratus (A Security Monitoring Firm based in NY) shared with me, that by changing their approach to an assessment based trial, conversion rates have gone from 30% to 80% in just a few months.  PWC, Accenture, KPMG – these firms have been using assessments and studies to sell for decades..it’s the key to avoiding price discussions.

Next, The Value Message. People take care of urgent threats before they expand and invest.  If you’re having a heart attack, you’re not stopping to check your budget. You just go to the hospital before it’s too late. In our session, using the messaging from The House & Cloud, I showed this group exactly how we converted over 25 business leaders in one hour earlier this week – a lunch & learn I did in Richmond VA.

Transformation also requires an ascension strategy – that means modifying your solution strategy. If your only real offering comes from MSP contracts, then how does the 80/20 rule apply. It turns out there’s a 5X growth strategy sitting above your MSP business…but most IT services providers don’t have one.

Finally, if you want to grow, you need a conversion strategy. Referrals are great, but there just aren’t enough of them…This is marketing…reaching out to the masses, building business-level awareness…then moving to trust, and finally to justification using your assessment.

For those of you who did attend – let me know how I can help as you move forward to implementation!

© 2017,  David Stelzl

PS. Get started with the Assessment Template – the fastest way to overcome objections like, “We’ve got it covered”…

 

 

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data-security-picWhat’s The Point of Your Security Assessment?

Are Your Clients Actually Taking Any Relevant Action?

This week on a coaching call with one of our Mastery Security Training Attendees we were discussing the role of the consultant in the security assessment process. In this case the Assessment Sales were NOT closing.

In other cases we discussed conversions from Assessment to Remediation or Managed Service were weak.

The complaint: Can I rely on our security consultants to deliver, or should I sell something else?

The Problem is Sales, Not Technical

First, sales people should never turn the SELLING over to a consultant or engineer unless that technology expert has a track record of closing. Knowing a lot about security does NOT lead to selling assessments. Selling and marketing are not driven by sound bites, technical know-how, or certifications.

In the Security Sales Mastery Program we teach sales people to speak about security at the business level. Executive Management is where the assessment should be sold.

Assessments are about risk. They measure Impact vs. Likelihood. At least they should. 

The Point of the Assessment is NOT Just About Risk: It’s About Conversion

In a sense Assessments are a marketing effort.

The Sales person sells the deal to measure risk. The consultant measures risk. But then something salesy has to happen.

Like the Cardio Doctor, if your patients are about to die but don’t take on the treatment plan, the doctor is failing.  It’s the doc’s job to sell his patient on doing something. Yes, ultimately the patient is responsible for their health, but if the diagnosis is poorly communicated or risk poorly described, the doc is doing something wrong.

Look at the Deliverable.

In many cases it will be a 50 page paper (enterprise size deal) or something much shorter in the SMB.  But is it written to the person who cares about risk? In most cases the answer is NO.

This is a sales problem. If you, the sales person, sold the assessment, hopefully you sold it to to someone at the business level to help them measure something specific – risk.

It might be compliance like HIPAA or it might be to identify the likelihood of data theft, system disruption, or data misuse.  Theft, misuse, and disruption can all be in the same report, however your findings must be written to the asset owner. The person with liability.

Don’t let the consultant take this to the client before reading and understanding what it says.

Are there mistakes?

Was the paper written using an old assessment from another deal?

If so, are there facts left over such as a “company name” that just don’t belong in this paper?  Believe it or not these are common problems. But it’s the sales person’s job to read it and scrutinize the value of the report.

Sure, the technical team shouldn’t be making mistakes like labeling a diagram with Cisco routers when the client uses Juniper (Yes, I’ve seen this happen!). But technical people are rarely writers. They won’t write at the executive level, they’ll miss edits that are obvious to the sales person, and they’ll often use an older document rather than starting from scratch. It happens even with the best teams.

Should You Keep Selling Assessments?

Yes, your clients need them. And they’re one of the best avenues to big business.

But sell them at the business level. Don’t succumb to IT people wanting assessment quotes. Unless they’re high dollar projects, they’re not worth doing. Make your way upstairs and find out what’s really needed.

When it’s time to assess, make sure your technical team knows exactly what you sold. It should be a measure of risk as described in The House & the Cloud. And when it’s time to deliver. Read it. It’s your deal. It’s Your client. It’s your responsibility. And it’s your biggest up-sell opportunity.

© 2016

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

Over the past 12 months I’ve spoken at dozens of executive lunch meetings

Ransomware is one of 7 major trends I’ve used to wake people up to their need to assess risk.  

Over 90% of my listeners – ranging from small business owners to CIOs, admit that their firm has not had a risk assessment done in 12 months!1-hc-book-ad-3-0a

When asked what the FBI recommends – most understand the FBI recommends not paying.  But when asked what the FBI will then do to help them get back to business, I get a blank stare. The truth is, the FBI’s recommendation is meaningless, because the FBI has no ability to restore the data. The victimized company is left without data.

Security manufacturers have recommended backing up data. Great…but when I ask my audience how long it might take to restore data, again, I get the blank stare. It could take weeks. Can the doctor afford to keep his patients waiting while he restores? Can the CPA, in the midst of tax season ask his client to hold on? The answer is no.

Do your clients have the ability to detect this intruder before it locks them out? Is there a tested response plan in place in the event that one is hit? Do your clients know what this really is, and what to expect in the coming 12 months?  They all need to face this reality.  Check out more on how to  get people to listen – it’s in my book, The House & the Cloud.

© 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

 

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Aggregated Data In The Hands of The Hacker

Is Allowing Hackers to Become You…

Yesterday I presented to business leaders in Santa Clara California, and the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel…I was surprised, but not so surprised, at how few of our attendees had recently performed risk assessments. Many of them had never had an actual risk assessment!

In our session we covered a number of evolving  trends – one important one is the trend of aggregated data and deep machine learning. If you remember the recent report from Verne Harnish – the emails used to steal over $400,000 sounded like they came right from Verne’s desk. How does that happen?

We’re all being watched. Our data is being both monitored and collected. It’s being aggregated and analyzed.  

Our data describes everything about us. Where we go, what we do, what we view online, where we eat and shop, and everything we write. This data is stored, aggregated, sold, and stolen…in the hands of the wrong people, it can be disastrous.

Using deep machine learning computers create an amazingly accurate profile, exposing things we would never share openly. For instance, who has posted their salary on Facebook? Probably no one – yet Facebook advertising can easily target and audience in a specific income range. How does it know?

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With the right data, just about anyone can become you online.

That means they’re sending email, giving directives, and even interfacing with your customers and suppliers. But don’t think for a minute that they’re helping you out. In Verne’s case they were ordering Accounts Payable to wire $400,000. His team had no way of checking the validity of this request – other than making a call. But given hundreds of request just like this, who would question it?

Several attendees came up after the session sharing similar stories in their own businesses.  In the end, our sponsor, Truman Roe, President of  TruTechnical offered each attendee a risk assessment. From my count, every company in attendance took him up on the offer!  This is the best place to start…with a clear measurement of risk, companies can be more confident in how they approach their security strategy.

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

 

graph-going-upHow Long Has Your Company Been This Size?

Can You Multiply It?

In 1995, I joined a couple of guys to build a new commercial focused reseller. Our vision was big. We were funded by an 8 million dollar CAD-CAM reseller, but we expected to exceed this by 10X…

So How Do You 10X Your Business?

First, it takes a lot of work ON your business, vs. being bogged down in the daily grind. There’s a tipping point, or fly wheel, or whatever you want to call it, depending on whose book you read.  Three things that accelerated our growth are important, because they still apply. NewsProCover

RETENTION and MARKET FOCUS…even in the mid 90s we knew we needed recurring revenue and long term clients. Getting a client takes time, but keeping one is far easier. (Check out Shaun Buck’s Book on newsletter marketing for more ideas on client retention – It’s free if you use this link).

Customer experience is a hot topic right now in every business. But the key to our success was problem solving. We weren’t going after the firewall sale, or even the storage sale. We were there to solve problems. When you solve a problem, people take notice, and retention goes up.

The first step might be surprising. It’s going after the right kind of customers. I call this people group. Even today I can point to profitable deals that didn’t create long term business, simply because the client was too far outside my target people group. It’s fine to sell something to someone outside your core market. But don’t spend time marketing to that group. Let them come to you. Take down the business and assume they’ll be moving on. Whatever you do, don’t rebrand your company overnight to find more like that.

The same was true in our 1995 start up. We sold 10s of millions of dollars to one single customer in one single year. But the chances of landing more like it were nearly zero. Not everyone agreed with me on that, but over the 5 years (before the company was sold,) those who tried never succeeded. It was a wasted effort.  On the other hand, those in our target market were by far our most profitable clients.

MAXIMUM LIFE TIME VALUE…next is understanding the lifetime value of a customer. A few weeks ago I entered an ice cream store with my family. Now we have 9 people in our family, so when we buy ice cream at a boutique, it’s a large ticket sale. But in the course of ordering, the owner yelled at my 8 year old son. My son was tired, not feeling well, and accidentally wandered behind the counter looking for a restroom.

Not believing my ears, I confronted the store owner – at first politely. But he remained stubborn, so we all walked out. What did that cost him?  He might be thinking, $30. But no, it’s far more. We travel by that store on trips pretty often. The lifetime value (LTV) far exceeds that $30. Customer experience is essential if you want to increase LTV. What about your business. How long do clients stay on your managed services? What if you increase that average by just one year? What happens to your profit?

When a new client comes on, you need a real problem to solve, and an experience they won’t forget. You need long term retention.

GROWTH AND UPSELL…Finally, the 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of your customers are worth 80% of your revenue. So what can you add for those premium customers, to give them a premium service?

A one off sale does not lead to growth. So start thinking, what can we add to provide higher level services, with recurring revenue, which ultimately increase LTV?

Let’s say you have a base MSP offering of $X per workstation – let’s say you have 100 of these. 20 percent of these customers are going to pay enough to make up 80%, so give them something more expensive to buy.  But don’t stop. The 20 customers are paying a multiple of what the other 80 are paying – and of course getting something far more valuable. But 20 percent of that 20, or 4 of them, will pay enough to make up 80% of the profit coming from the 20. In other words, you can offer a higher level service to the 4, worth a multiple of what those 20 pay.  But wait, there’s one more step – that last 20% is one person, willing to pay for one more level of service.  So go ahead and create one.

If you do the math now, you’ll see that this 100 person group is now worth far more than they were with the original MSP offering.  As your business grows, the group grows, and new levels get created, growing your business.  It took us 5 years to hit the 10X mark. Of course this takes people, time, and vision…but there’s no better time to start than right now.

© 2016, David Stelzl