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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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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

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

 

 

policeThis Week’s Lesson on Good Security

Physical and digital security aren’t that far apart in principle. This week’s attacks on NY and NJ are another reminder that we need better security.  We’re getting hit on all sides. Governments are infiltrating our data, aggregators are profiling us far beyond any security check point or law enforcement group. And terrorists are hitting us in the streets.

Security is not a political question, it’s a science. Protection, detection, response. Three parts of a well defined system that work, when properly sequenced and timed. On the data side, as I shared with the Allinal Event attendees this week in San Antonio Texas, IT groups have been lulled into unnecessary product purchases, chasing meaningless compliance regulations (not that all of them are meaningless), and putting their faith in technology to keep out the perpetrator.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal offers a sobering insight from someone who’s experienced terrorism overseas as part of their daily life. Bret Stephens writes,

“What’s the lesson here for Americans? This past weekend’s terrorist attacks hold at least two. One is that there is a benefit for a society that allows competent and responsible adults to carry guns, like the off-duty police officer who shot the knife-wielding jihadist in St. Cloud, Minn. Another is that there is an equal benefit in the surveillance methods that allowed police in New York and New Jersey to swiftly identify and arrest Mr. Rahimi before his bombing spree took any lives.”

A change is needed in our mindsets on security. Security isn’t compliance or politics, it’s life. In the digital world our intellectual capital is being taken even day, bank accounts drained from fraudulent transfers, and businesses crippled by ransomware. On the streets, the expectation is that the police will be there just before the bomb goes off, on the network, we expect firewalls and antivirus software to stop every attack in it’s tracks…but they won’t.

Great security means being able to detect something is wrong before it’s too late, and having a well-rehearsed, timed response plan, that can stop if before damage is done. New laws and efforts to keep the bad guys out never work.

© 2016, David Stelzl

P.S. If you’ve not yet read Digital Money, The Smart Business Leader’s Guide to Stopping Hackers – it’s on Amazon right now!

san-antonio-riverwalkCPA Firms Have Some Serious Data

This morning I kicked off Allinial Global’s technology conference with a keynote on Digital Money and the growing value of data. Allinial is an association of over 8000 accounting professionals around the world. This week’s IT conference, held in San Antonio, focuses on the IT organizations that support these accounting firms.

I was encouraged to see that most of their agenda was focused on security!

While there are lot’s of IT topics worth discussing, security is by far the most pressing need. During our lunch break I heard from several attendees who reported various attempts on their companies, with hackers trying to get insiders to wire money to fraudulent accounts (CATO). This reinforces the message that corporate account takeover attacks are a real and A growing threat among small businesses.

We also discussed the need for small businesses to contract with outside security services providers to monitor traffic.  As I explain in my latest book, Digital Money, small businesses cannot afford to hire qualified security experts unless they themselves are also providing security services to their small business clients. Security people are expensive, and staying current means working on security every day.

Most IT professionals understand the need for more security, but getting management to act on assessments, and invest in proper detection/response strategies can be a challenge. Hopefully our session today has given this group a compelling message to take back to management. A message that moves them one step closer to strong detection and a timed response plan.

Check out Digital Money to find out what’s really going on out there, and why businesses are losing the battle…

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

 

If People Aren’t Responding to Your Message Keep Reading…

Technology Providers Need to Refocus If They Want to Help the Businesses They Serve

Last night I spoke to my church congregation on the  topic of security. That’s right, at the church. Some were in business, others were students, homemakers, or retired. They listened, asked questions, and commented after the talk that this was truly helpful. My hope is that  they left with some very practical steps to take to reduce their personal risk and exposure online.

The truth is, everyone is interested in security when it’s tied to their personal stuff. No one is interested when it’s about technology, with the possible exception of the IT person trying to enhance their resume.

Are People Calling You to Hear Your Message?

If you’re newsletters, blog posts, and website are littered with technical jargon, chances are no one is responding. But put a business or personal message in front of your prospects and they’ll tune in. Security is magnetic.digital Money Cover

Last week I was in Montana, speaking to small business owners in the small town of Helena. Not only did people come, some drove from the remote parts of Montana to hear this message. And at the end of my session, Information Systems of Montana was kind enough to offer their guests an assessment, just for attending. 90% of them said yes!  For an entire hour they were engaged, not checking email, but taking notes.

This month I’ve been invited to address business owners in New Orleans, deliver a large conference keynote in Miami, and speak to a CPA association in San Antonio. Why? Because people want more – they want to know what’s going on and how it affects them.

What’s Your Message?

It’s time to evaluate your message. Security and customer experience are likely the two most important topics out there when it comes to technology. If you write software, you can help people on the customer side. But if you’re working on managed services and infrastructure, you need security. Not just any security – focus on the trends and how they relate to the people you work with.

Remember, your prospects are building businesses. They’ll be using technology to create efficiencies and value. As they move forward, their security needs will be changing, and they’ll need advice. The person with answers will be in demand.

© 2016, David Stelzl