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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

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Several companies I am working with right now are going through various assessment and discovery programs to create justification for larger projects.  This builds on the material presented online last week.

The problem is, most assessments are too technical.  A change is needed if justification is going to be found in your discovery/assessment process.  Here are some points to consider:

  • The assessment should be asset focused.  This means that the questions being asked focus on critical data and applications, rather than infrastructure.  This type of questioning process starts with asset owners who understand the value of their data and how it is used to generate company profits.
  • Business driven.  The discovery process is conducted with business people first.   Questions deal with the business, the data used in the business, and the processes used to conduct business.  Keep you client’s clients in mind, and you’ll be speaking their language.
  • Verified through technical discovery.  Once the business level discovery is complete, you the seller, should have a picture of how data is being created, but whom, and for what.  You will also have ideas on what this company could be doing to improve their situation.  What kinds of automation, risk mitigating strategies, and technology applications would make things more efficient or more secure.  Once you have this, send your technical people into the IT areas for see what is really going on technically.  Validate your hunches and figure out what they really need.
  • Recommendations are written at the asset owner level.  Putting together your findings is the next step, but more often than not, these findings are too technical and not meaningful or understandable by business level people; those who will ultimately approve budget.  Make concrete recommendations – recommendations your business level clients can visualize.
  • Back up recommendations with technical appendices.  I like to treat this as a separate document – something that can be handed to technical people.  The documents you hand to business people must be short, easily absorbed, and strategic. Technical people may have questions and will often not see value in strategic level writings, so having some technical diagrams, data collected, or other evidence that your technical people know what they are doing is a good idea.  This needs to be something that can be handed directly to IT.
  • Present to asset owners.  Your goal is the personally present your recommendations and justification to asset owners, helping them visualize what you are recommending and why.  I like to use the phrase, “What if we could do this or provide that to your customers by doing…?”  Going through several scenarios, I am looking for nodding heads or signs of interest.  There may be some things presented where they look puzzled or disinterested.  Either provide more detail to get buy-in or move on to the things they agree are important.  This is where you will focus your value proposition and proposals/agreements.
  • Have your technical people get with their technical people. Once you have buy-in, your technical people can work with theirs to make sure you have their complete agreement. Your technical people should have already developed this relationship before the discovery process takes place.  This paves the way for acceptance all around.

Remember to focus on the urgent issues – things with high impact, high likelihood.  Many of the things we deem important are not important to decision makers.  We can either work to educate them on why they really are important, or move on to the things they are concerned about.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Based on some of the follow up questions I received following Wednesday’s Webex on Effective Demand Generation I thought it might be helpful to add these points:

0. Don’t let the irritated, over-worked executive frustrate you or stifle your marketing plans…

1. Marketing, while considered to be very artsy, is very scientific.  Learn what motivates people, what turns them off, what causes them to be judgmental, and what creates open-mindedness.

2. The goal is to gain permission to continue the sales process.  Study Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing for more insight on this.  Godin does a great job of explaining why marketing cannot be interruption driven, using mailings and billboard type selling.  This fits well with a consultative selling approach.  Events like we are describing here are just one step in gaining permission to consult and advise with decision makers.

3. Persuasion is an important concept.  I like the definition from our home school curriculum, “Guiding truth around other’s mental road blocks.”  Truth implies honest delivery of a client’s situation and your ability to improve it.  Roadblocks exist simply because the 95% you call on don’t really understand the issues like you do.  Demonstrate a need for risk mitigation or operational efficiency and you’re on your way to helping them.

4. Finally, remember that executives need your input.  Don’t shy away from communicating value.  Thousands of incompetent sales people have addressed this group in past meetings and phone calls, so don’t be surprised if there is some convincing to do up front.  If you have prepared properly, you are doing them a favor by contacting them.

© 2011, David Stelzl

There are only 8 seats left in my January Virtual Workshop – don’t miss this!

We’ll be covering the materials from my most popular workshop, Making Money with Security….all through an Interactive Webex format…

[Click for more info and registration]

1. Security provides the most effective means of attracting executive level clients and the primary means of creating new business.

2. Security trends are changing, and while the economy is still not great, security providers who understand these concepts are still growing at rates of 50%, 100%, and greater – I’ll have specific examples of this and how they do it!

3. Urgency is key in a slow economy, and every company has urgent issues – I’ll put you in the center of this!

4. Armed with the right message, focused on the most urgent issues, and equipped to create justification, you’re opportunity for success is much higher in 2011.

5. Creating justification is an essential part of the sales process…there is a prescription for doing this.

6. Assessments are profitable, central to developing larger profit rich projects, and recurring revenue.  We’ll dive into this in a way that will get you headed in the right direction.

You get the idea.  Your 2011 approach will be strengthened, your confidence will greatly increase as you approach executives, and you’ll have solid justification for getting new/larger budgets approved.  I recommend this for anyone serious about selling or marketing in the high-tech space this coming year.

[For more info and registration – click here]

© 2010, David Stelzl