Archives For smb

What happens when the people in charge don’t get it?  The value solution providers (VARs, Resellers, Consultants, etc.) bring to their clients has more to do with the business advantage they bring and less to do with the features…yet I am hearing the disturbing message this is being sacrificed in the name of budget constraints.  Here is what I am hearing from the field:

1. When distributors bring together their clients (generally mid market and SMB resellers), the attendees need to hear from industry experts, receive business building strategies, and be challenged by new ideas.  Thousands will be spent on the travel, accommodations, and food, not to mention opportunity cost.  Why would those in charge allow free speakers from the manufacturer to dominate these sessions with product information?  It’s all available online and it’s all commodity stuff…I’ve heard numerous comments this year along the lines of, “waste of time.”

2. When “Vendor” sponsored training is forced on the reseller (forced may be a strong word – but this is the way I receive the message from resellers I work with), why is it so product centric with “speeds and feeds”, when what is needed is a message that resonates with senior managers, negotiation skills, and marketing insight.  It’s rare to find people making these decisions who understand the reseller business, financial model, and competitive pressures, so bring in someone who knows.

3. I recently learned of a major reseller who went through several days of sales training with HP specifically on building their message. After attending my Mastering Board Room Presentations (where we were going to focus on delivering  their new message) they told me, “Our message stinks.”

4. When marketing dollars are available (which they always are if you sell enough product), why do the people managing these budgets insist that it be spent on golf outings, call blitzes, and product specials?  These programs are proven failures…I’m told by sales people and VAR business owners, “We’d gladly sacrifice the outings for outstanding content and training.”

5. “Stop telling me there’s no money available.  Instead, give me the criteria for getting the money I see others getting.”  It’s no secret, money is being spent on marketing and  training…if it’s not, the channel is dead. But who will get it and who dictates who it will be spent?  The criteria needs to be clear, and the reseller’s choice of partners should take this into consideration.  There’s no sense in trying to build this business alone – channel partners are needed, great channel managers are needed, and resllers who think they can build a business without the product are wrong.  When synergy exists between the two, a winning combination is formed.  But this requires an understanding of how to invest and partner in a way that produces profit.

© David Stelzl 2010



SMB Sound bites

March 11, 2010 — Leave a comment

While working with the Kaspersky Marketing today in Boston I came across this list of sound bites.  You can read the entire article in USA Today …. this may help move some of the business owners you are working with to a realization that their small companies actually are targets – it’s not just the big banks who are at risk.  These may also work for those of you who are calling on regional banks – notice the impact on business (last bullet)…apparently the banks are not as secure as they lead us to believe.  (these come straight from the USA Today article posted in today’s paper)

  • 55% of businesses reported experiencing fraud in the last 12 months, with 58% enabled by online banking activities.
  • 80% of banks failed to catch fraud before funds were transferred out of their institution.
  • In 87% of fraud attacks, the bank was unable to fully recover assets.
  • 57% of the respondents that experienced a fraud attack were not fully compensated by their banks.
  • 26% were not compensated for any part of their losses.
  • 40% of defrauded businesses moved their banking activities elsewhere.

Note: when the paper says SMB – it is often referring to what many resellers consider mid-size, on down to the very small S-Corp type company.

© David Stelzl 2010

Yes, China and Google are dominating the news with filtered searching and email break-ins.  This is bad for cloud computing as noted in my Saturday post.  Keep your eyes on this as you talk with clients about cloud computing options.  The fact is, you can’t trust your data with someone else at this point and the big clouds are the big targets…it will always be that way.

On the tech page of USToday I found this article on do-it-yourself hacking kits.  This is pretty cool; for only seven or eight hundred dollars you can purchase the software along with instructions (probably better instructions than those provided with the software I buy), to hack into just about anything.  That means that disgruntled customers can attack providers they use for just about anything when they feel they’ve been ripped off.  The key tools are bots downloaded to systems through links passed on through email.  The topics could be anything of interest – we’re closing in on tax season, so expect this to be at the top of the list.

Experience needed?  All you need is the ability to download music or video to a computer.  In other words, hackers have commoditized the industry, making it available to just about anyone.  Helping companys with this is an opportunity, especially in the SMB market where security defense continues to be very week.  Also in the regional banks, I expect this to increase attacks on online banking, and these smaller banks are not well equipped to defeat this type of attack.  Check out the article and pass it on to your clients…

“The victims are mostly small to midsize organizations using online bank accounts supplied by local community banks and credit unions, FBI analysis shows.” Small businesses are big targets!  “The reason they’re going here is the controls are antiquated, and a smart program can often get the money out.”  In other words, criminals and hackers know small businesses aren’t ready, can’t detect when something’s missing, and don’t see themselves are targets.  So what’s the key? Getting them to at least understand they need to take a look.  Assessing small business computers at a high level can be done quickly, and generally uncovers major problems.  You’re looking for Malware.  This is the key – these criminals are accessing systems using Trojan Horse technology, meaning all malware is suspect.  So don’t go in and say, you have a virus…let them know their systems have been accessed from the outside.  After all, any Trojan requires the computer to accept the installation of outside code in order to install.  Read about SMB targets in USA Today

SMB Sound Bites

November 4, 2009 — Leave a comment

Soundbites that matter!  If you call on SMB clients, knowing some of these facts may help you make your case.  Of course, we learned from “Made to Stick” (One of my favorite marketing books) that analytics won’t move  customer to buy; however, from the House & the Cloud, you know that soundbites can be used effectively when used correctly in the sales process.  Take a look at some of these (thanks to Randy Sklar, President of Sklar Technology Partners in Richmond, VA for forwarding these stats from a recently published NCSA/Symantec Study)…

  • The average small business is storing customer data, financial data, and credit card data on site. (We could have assumed this – but there’s more)
  • 58%  of them agree that their data security is not getting better
  • 75% of them are using the Internet to conduct business
  • 42% of them understand that their customers are concerned about data security
  • 86% don’t have anyone focused on securing their data
  • 90% of them are not really doing anything to educate their employees about security.

Sounds like a managed services opportunity to me.