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CiscoHere’s an opportunity to completely re-engineer your approach to lunch & learns and event marketing.  Cisco is sponsoring this program as a way to help resellers conduct more profitable lunch & learn events.

When: July 30, 2013 at 12 EDT.

Where: Webex – where ever you are!

If you are tired of pitching the same message to the same people, with the same response (or not much response at all), I’ll be presenting a 90 minute session next week, taking Cisco partners through Seven Secrets To Profitability Using Lunch & Learns.  If you are a Cisco reseller – join us by signing up here:  (CLICK).

I’ve been saying this for years – detection is the most important part, and your managed services program is a critical component of the detection strategy.  I just finished up today’s webinar – the second session of, Accelerating Managed Services Sales.  Both sessions, March and April, where full, with a waiting list.  This article on Global Payments underscores the problem with most security problems – if you read the quotes from the experts cited in this article you will see the recurring theme, Firewalls and Perimeter security don’t do it.

In today’s session on managed services sales I presented several mistakes being made in the sale of managed services offerings. The biggest one is putting the focus on ROI – Return on Investment, or TCO – total cost of ownership.  Is there a TCO savings?  Probably – or maybe even a forceful “YES”, but don’t lead managed services sales with this.  Risk is the motivator here, and companies are losing the battle according to last week’s FBI reports.  If you’ve read my book, From Vendor to Adviser, some sound bites worth remembering from the above article include:

  1. The Heartland Payment Systems breach exposed 130 million credit card numbers – credit card data is still vulnerable.
  2. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is highly prescriptive in nature, but simply complying does not ensure credit card security.
  3. The perimeter-based approach is not sufficient and fails to protect critical data and internal resources that bypass these point solutions.
  4. Firewalls, antivirus and [intrusion detection and prevention systems] are no longer enough to protect against rapidly evolving zero-day and insider attacks.

Remember, sound bites build credibility, however, as I explain in my book From Vendor to Adviser, they do not sell.  They help you relate to executives as long as the source is credible in the eyes of the buyer – so steer away from Infoweek type sources when gathering these sound bites.

Join me on April 9th – 11th for a deep dive into the world of selling highly profitable security solutions and you’ll also get a one hour one-on-one session with me to review your business and create a more effective strategy for selling more profitable solutions.

Sign up here! Making Money w/ Security (just 5 seats left)

© 2012, David Stelzl


Today was my second day teaching at Verity College in Indianapolis – working with college students who have not really experienced the pressure of the business world provides some fresh perspective.  Today we covered material from my latest book and workshop, in a session I call, Secrets of High Priced Consultants.  Over dinner I had the opportunity to meet with two young men, both interested in building businesses and looking for counsel on how to get things started. One question that came up deserves some additional response – “Where do you see companies really getting into financial trouble?”

The other day I wrote about selling unprofitable business.  Let me expand on this some, as it applies both to the company and the sales person…

1. Numbers are down, because profits are weak or perhaps sales are low due to competitive pressures – in other words, there are opportunities, but in order to win them, you find yourself cutting the prices.  In my From Vendor to Adviser book I show how a 20% cut in price leads to a 40% cut in gross profit (at least when we are talking about services with a standard burden cost).

2. Profits are down which demands more sales, but the profit problem is still there, and with all of the competitive pressure, and need for fast sales, more pressure leads to more discounting, less contract signing, and more deals on a hand shake.

3. Revenue numbers increase when this happens (assuming steep discounts lead to more sales) – and if you are selling managed services, the compensation is likely based on revenue, since there is no gross profit measurement to be had.  Often these deals are compensated with 1 to 3 months revenue paid out to the rep up front.  The rep is happy, the business will soon be dying.   As pressure mounts to keep this contact profitable, the customers are sure to pay with poor services, often resulting in early contract termination.  You can try to sue, but this rarely works in your favor – in fact, forget I mentioned it.

4. Competition is bound to come in at this point, sweeping up the pieces and promising to make things right.  Whether they do or don’t make good on their promises, chances are you will not get this customer back.

Fix the profit situation first…more contracts don’t equal more profit.  Bigger companies don’t mean bigger money.  Fine tune the profit machine, then work on the sales end.  Once you know your product offering or managed service model works, then you can press forward with a strong sales & marketing program.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Selling Your Way Out

February 21, 2012 — 1 Comment

Selling your way out – it seems like common sense, yet I see this more often than you might imagine.  Selling more at a loss never profits.  You can’t sell more of something that just isn’t profitable and expect a return.  This is likely one of the most frequent causes of business failure.  This past week I reviewed financial reports of several resellers, all selling managed services offerings.  In once case the numbers were all above 50% margin, with over 300 individual contracts – and for SMB (Small-Medium Business) contracts, reasonably large monthly commitments.  In another case, a company who had converted many to managed contracts, using an ROI (return on investment) model – in other words, they sold their clients on moving to a monthly commitment, but didn’t do the math, and tried to save each client some money.  The client is now saving money, but the contract isn’t profitable as we look back over the past 12 months.

Blindly pursuing sales, without a clear picture of the efforts involved in filling the contract is like chasing technology.  Companies that will create any offering on the spot, or take on any new product, just to fill a contract, as destined for trouble.  One of my clients made the astute comment in our weekly meeting, “It is so tempting to just cut the price when it looks like a sure thing,” and he’s right, but then he followed up with, “But it doesn’t make sense to do it – it won’t turn a profit by the end of the year.”

Managed contracts are like that.  There is little in the way of upfront cost, so the temptation is to believe you can pull it off – manage it closely, do it more efficiently.  But in the end, you will be squeezing the client, trying to get by without actually responding, just to make up for the loses.  On the other hand, you might not realize your contract is a loss until it’s just too late.  At that point, there’s no turning back.  You can’t raise prices across the board  and expect everyone to stay with you.  Instead, you will be handing over clients that have taken years to build, to your nearest competitor.

Copyright 2012, David Stelzl

Anonymous strikes again (read the Article)…if you look through news articles on technology in 2012, most likely you will find Apple, Google, and Anonymous dominating headlines…at least on the business side news (e.g. Wall Street Journal).  Of the three, most of us stand to capitalize on security news more than Apple or Google, unless you work for the latter.  Do you have a plan for 2012 that leverages security trends?  You should.  Of all my clients, those specializing in security experienced the greatest bottom line growth.  Areas to consider:

1. Companies that offered managed services with a security slant (Messaging), grew the most.  When I say “Grew”, I mean, profit.  Who cares about top line growth?  Manufacturers and very large resellers who are publicly traded, perhaps, but for the traditional reseller and even small, privately held manufacturer, gross and net are more important.  Managed services, is always a “security” sale (but often not treated as one), and is the key to developing financial stability.

2. Assessments where also a hot topic.  In my latest book, From Vendor to Adviser (which is doing very well since it’s release in late December – buy it here), I discuss the need to move into a more consultative approach using discovery and assessment strategies.  Clients who have made this a core part of their business development strategy are building business faster and more profitably than any other group of clients I serve.

3. Marketing events continue to produce strong results!  Lunch & Learn marketing has been around as long as I can remember,  yet few can tell me how they are benefiting from these expensive and time consuming events – with the exception of those engaged in security.  We continue to get large audiences, executive level attendees, and a very strong sign up (Conversion) rate – averaging 75%!  Still, companies continue to try other things, looking for diversity and point product selling.

Today we kick off the first 2012 Making Money with Security workshop! (You can still sign up – starts at 1:00 PM). I am looking forward to exploring all three in detail.  Those that master security sales, will win in 2012.

© 2012, David Stelzl

My son's first Dentist Appt.

My new book goes into great detail on this subject, as well as the upcoming webinar on Oct 14 – which is filling up fast: (CLICK) to sign up.

One issue I bring up is the availability of funding – how many times have you been told, “We don’t have any money”, or “Our company doesn’t provide JMF”?

One of my clients received both of these responses…made a call, followed some of the guidelines I give in my book, and a few minutes later received $4000 in sponsorship!  How did that happen?

A few tips on acquiring funding…

1. It helps to have a track record.  Don’t engage in marketing events that don’t really produce anything.  Funding sources don’t want to hear things like, “This is just a customer appreciation event.”  Track your results as you go along so that you can use them to sell future potential sponsors on supporting you.

2. Schedule the event – then invite the sponsors to join you.  It’s easier to get money when people see you taking off – rather than sitting around looking for handouts.  If you have momentum, people will want to join you.

3. Work for those that sponsor you…help them make their numbers.  Leverage this with future sponsors.  If your partners don’t support you there is no reason to stay with them.  There are many great solutions out there…don’t stand by those who don’t stand by you.

4. Have a plan.  Show your potential sponsor how you plan to sell their product.  In our case we have close to 40 decision makers lined up for this week’s event.  Our reports show that we should close about 30 of these attendees on conducting a discovery process, and from there, more than half should turn into some type of business.  No one can turn this kind of results away…
Join me on Oct 14 to find out how we did, and how we did it….(CLICK)

© 2011, David Stelzl

Here’s a short clip from today’s conference with retail sales teams…in today’s talk I covered seven principles of building effective value with large retail clients based on my new book, From Vendor to Adviser…should have the final in print by late October!

© 2011, David Stelzl