ASCII Summit: Talk Security To Get In Your Customer's Door
By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
One change at the 2010 ASCII Reseller Success Summit events is the addition of panels moderated by ASCII members. The panels include both vendors and VARs, and covered topics that members have suggested.
First on the podium at the June 3 event in Chicago was the group tackling the topic "Approaches on Leveraging the "Security Conversation To Retain Customers." In the spotlight was: moderator Joe Balsarotti, CEO, Software to GO; Rob Koliha, Walling Data, VAD; Keith Lubner, VP of Channels, Panda Security; Alex Quinonez, Cyberoam, VP; and Erik Boles, SaaS division, McAfee. The group covered a lot of ground, but some advice stood out.
Quinonez suggested that resellers need to stop focusing on security as an insurance policy for customers' data, but rather a solution with a very high ROI. "Start selling your security solutions a productivity tool with a high ROI, and then also let your customers know that you are helping them meet compliance issues by which everyone is impacted." Lubner agreed, and added that cloud-based security solutions allow VARs to do that even more quickly than traditional solutions: "This new delivery model lowers costs, increases protection, and you see that ROI much more quickly."
Beyond highlighting the impact on the bottom line – both in terms of investment of the solution, its ROI, and the productivity that a secure, viable network supports – Boles reminded VARs to add their own expertise to sweeten the sales pitch. "For resellers, security is a practice, not a product," he says. "Your customers don't have someone who is concentrating on nothing but security; but you do," says Boles. "Sell that. Put it out there."
One piece of advice for turning a security solution in to a first step sale with customers is to offer a security assessment, and then build a follow-up plan with the data culled during that assessment – everything from infrastructure and refresh needs to security loopholes. While the panel suggested quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with those customers already on your roster, Lubner suggested that you need to be proactive, and that might take more than sitting down with customers once a quarter. "Would you rather wait until your customers call with a problem or would you like to call them and say, hey, checked in on you and we found this, blocked that," says Lubner. "You need to let them know what you are doing, what is going on in their environment."
Other advice: use reports generated by your security tools to show customers each month how you are working in their network, show them the behaviors going on and use those reports to open conversations about building best practices/policies to eliminate bad habits you see in the network.
Lastly, a real-time text-generated survey showed that most attendees felt a conversation about social networking could open a new dialogue with customers. (Choices included: mobility, bandwidth usage, social networking, unsecured data, instant messages, disaster recovery, spam/malware). Social networking and the risk it poses in terms of security and loss of productivity edged mobility and disaster recovery.