Turn your lunch & learns into high-conversion sales events that predictably drive new business.
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There’s Big Money In Risk Assessments
If You Know How To Sell Them…
But You Must Start Here If You Plan to Succeed:
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about free assessments – an incredibly fast (yet misunderstood) way to create business, when the prospect doesn’t understand their true needs (which seems to be more often than not).
The question is, is there a time to charge? And if so, how much, what scope, where do you start?
In this Part I article, I’ll show you where to begin when creating new business through fee based assessments…
What Your Client Needs, and Where to Begin Your Sales Process
First, it’s important to start where people are, and then take them to where they need to go. In other words, you can’t sell someone what they need, when they don’t yet know their needs. Great marketing starts by understanding the buyer’s desires, and then reframing that prospect’s thinking.
Most larger (fee based) assessment opportunities start with an IT person. If the prospect-company lacks an IT group, they’re probably too small to command a reasonable price for assessing. In that case, I’d go back to FREE ASSESSMENTS and sell them the recurring revenue-managed services & security program. That is what they really need…
Think Like a Psychologist, And Listen to Your Prospect’s Pressing Need…(But Don’t Sell Try to Sell Them Anything Yet)
When asked to quote an assessment, you might be tempted to jump in and start your discovery; how many firewalls, how many servers, do you want applications assessed too?
This is the wrong approach!!!!
Leading with technical questions, leads to competing on price.
The IT person has something in mind…is it a true risk assessment? Did they call it something else; Pen Test, Vulnerability Assessment, Audit, etc. Do they know the difference? (Probably not).
Establish your contact’s desire first. Ask them…What is it you’re looking for?” And, “WHY do you need it?”
This second question is the more important question (WHY). Expect answers like, “To see if we’re secure,” or “To show our clients we are secure.” You see the problem here?
First, you know that there is no such thing as being “secure”. Second, the assessment is only going to reveal problems this company didn’t know existed. So the idea of certifying your buyer’s infrastructure is a fallacy.
It’s time to reframe (EDUCATE)!!!
Find out where this request is coming from and what’s been done in the past.
- Is this request coming down from the CIO? The Board? The President?
- Is there a compliance requirement here, or is this just about internal data security?
- What are the stake holders looking for in terms of a deliverable? Have you done this before? (Getting a past deliverable can be invaluable).
- Who else are you considering for this project (This is a key question most are afraid to ask)?
- And be sure to ask about their selection criteria!
Avoiding the Price Game – And The Steve Jobs Wanna-Be
Chances are your IT contact doesn’t really know what’s going on. He needs an assessment or pen test, and probably doesn’t know the difference. At this point he’s looking to you for a comparison quote. The last thing you want to do is give him what he’s asking for.
Your IT contact is just a cog in the larger wheel of technology bureaucracy. (Note, if your contact is actually part of a security team, the approach will be different.
I’m specifically talking about IT here – and I started my career in IT, working for two different F500 companies. I’ve seen this from the other side. Don’t over estimate what IT knows about security.
If you simply respond to a bid, or scope out what IT is requesting, the buyer will have nothing to match your price against (in terms of value) other than your competition’s bids and his budget.
Comparison’s against anything other than established need and value are meaningless, and simply lead to price wars.
In every competitive deal there’s at least one guy working out of his garage, offering low-ball prices (and they’re not Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak). You don’t want the truck-slammers of the world to be the yardstick by which buyers vet your price.
Reframing Your Prospect’s Thinking
Here’s what happened the last time I worked on a competitive assessment deal…
I was hired by a reseller to work closely with their sales team as a coach/advisor…
(Years ago I had built and led the Security Team for a large global integrator, where we primarily led with assessments – so this call was not new territory).
As expected, our new prospect was looking for an assessment – in his words, a vulnerability assessment. After going through the steps outlined above, we began our reframing process.
First, we asked him, “Do you know what your board is asking your CIO for?” His answer was predictably vague. How would he know?
Next, my client (the reseller) drew the Impact vs. Likelihood Graph on the whiteboard (Page 194 in my book, The House & The Cloud). He began to review the five things board members demand:
- What are our most important data assets, and where are they?
- What are the odds we’ll suffer some major intrusion or outage?
- What our estimated impact?
- How are we working to minimize this risk?
- Are we getting better or worse over time? How are we managing to it?
Time To Bring Out The One Thing That Sets You Apart From the 13…
Without calling out our competition (never a good thing to do), we began to describe what most vulnerability assessments look like, how they’re approached (something for a future article), and why they aren’t going to satisfy the board’s request.
At that point, my client (the reseller I had been working on the House & Cloud Concepts with) pulled out a sample deliverable (with no intention of leaving it with the prospect) and began to go through the type of deliverable that would make an IT Director a hero…
Deal closed…Well, There’s more to it, but this is just Part I of a predictable assessment sales process designed to front-end big profits and future business.
© David Stelzl, 2017
Your Risk Assessment Is The Fastest Way to Drive New Business, But Only if You Follow This Formula…
On one hand, risk assessments are a great way to start an engagement, or close a sale. On the other hand, they offer great value. Should you give all your value and insight away???
It’s a hard question that demands an answer!
The Point of Assessing Risk Is…
Several weeks ago I wrote an article defining the assessment (if you’ve not read it, I recommend going back to better understand the truth behind assessing risk and growing your business).
The bottom line is, Assessments are like health checkups. If the patient has URGENT issues, yet chooses to NOT take action, the doctor’s efforts are wasted. Even more, if most of that doctor’s patients never enter treatment (and are dying), he has failed.
If there are urgent issues, action is required.
And it’s your job to sell the customer on taking action – not for money, but for the livelihood of that customer’s business. With remediation in mind, your risk report is a marketing document. You goal is to sell your customer on doing something!
Amateurs Focus On Front-End Selling
When I hear, “We don’t give away the assessment”, I think to myself, “Amateur Thinking”. Front-end, is a funnelology term – It is the process of capturing a lead and ascending that lead up your value ladder.
The sales process starts with a lead magnet (some freemium offering) to attract qualified prospects (Think: Opt-in). You provide value and your buyer wants more. So they ascend over hurdles of indecision to the point of becoming a buyer.
Some prospects will drop out immediately, grabbing the free stuff and moving on (grab and dash). It’s okay…I’ll explain in a minute. Others will buy your initial offer, or perhaps engage with you in basic managed services (New Customers).
A select few will become hyper-buyers…your best customers. Hyper-buyers buy whatever you recommend because they see your value and trust you to advise them.
The front-end has to be easy (think, free or close to it). You might offer a white paper (which I seriously don’t recommend). Better choices include, special reports, quizzes, assessments, lunch & learns, etc.
Some front-end options convert quickly. Others, not so much. Signing up for your mailing list or free e-zine doesn’t make much sense these days. No one is choosing to get more spam email.
All great front-ends cost money. The idea is to spend your money with ROI in mind. The company that can spend more upfront (marketing), and still measure a strong return on the back end, wins.
Did you catch that? You’re not trying to minimize the front-end cost (or your marketing budget). You’re trying to maximize conversion and ascension. If your backend works, you can spend more upfront, beating your competition.
The assessment may be costly, but done right, it can have an extremely high ROI on the backend.
Qualified Prospects Only
Conversion (like getting people to a lunch & learn) is one thing, converting from free to fee is another. You don’t want to invite people for a free iPad…you’ll end up with a bunch of IT folks that want free gadgets (these are not buyers).
If you want qualified prospects, you won’t give your free assessment to just anyone. And that means you won’t advertise it on your webpage. Freemium means high-value and special, and should be guarded.
To qualify, you want to have a freemium offer, like an assessment, and have a clear avatar of your target prospect.
Let’s say its the SMB business owner with 25 to 250 users. Inviting that person to a lunch & learn is a qualifying step that gives you the opportunity to actually meet face to face. It’s costly, but if your conversion is high, you won’t care.
Then converting them (given the right message in your lunch & learn meeting) is easy…We’re converting over 90% right now with a security message designed to instill urgency. It leads to an assessment – we offer this analysis right there in the meeting. But our description is vague…on purpose. You see, we have one more step; it’s a phone call.
On our initial call we have the opportunity to ask them about their business and their role. If they turn out to be someone other than a qualified buyer, we make the assessment a simple over-the-phone questionnaire. If that person is a business owner, in charge of a possible qualified company, we move forward.
Our assessment engagement involves that decision maker all the way through to the deliverable. If our key contact (asset owner, I call them) drops out at any point in time, we stop the process.
Our conversions to business range from 60% to 80%, and our sales cycles averages a couple weeks to a couple of months. (But not 6 to 9 months). These contracts range from $1000 to $5000/month, with a 5 year expected lifetime value. So how much can I spend on customer acquisition (in this case a lunch & learn and assessment)? Do the math, it’s a big number.
Selling The Free One Isn’t Always Easy
But there’s still one more hurdle. Selling free assessments has it’s challenges. Free sometimes means no value. And getting that initial meeting may also prove to be a challenge.
The 60% to 80% close rate is attractive, so I know I want to sell the risk assessment. I am willing to give it away, because my ascension process works predictably well, and the ROI is there. I can afford it and the return is evident.
However, the assessment can’t be the first step in my sales process (or funnel).
Most of my clients sell assessments by using something upfront to attract clients. eBooks, followed by webinars, with an offer to assess, can work. Live lunch & learns, using a hard copy letter invitation work extremely well. And any excuse to get a meeting (such as referrals, product or quotation requests, etc.) can be turned into an assessment.
In my book, The House & the Cloud, I explain how to transition just about any meeting into an assessment (chapter 13), and then later in the book (Pg. 194 – 200) I explain how to move through the assessment in a way that engages asset owners, and leads to a sale.
The most important thing in this whole process is to track your conversion metrics. Make sure you are at least breaking even. Once you break even, start tweaking your funnel to modify and grow your ascension process.
As you perfect your conversion metrics you will be creating a long term, predictable profit machine.
©2017, David Stelzl