Magazine Article | February 13, 2014

Bundle IT Services With Physical Security Sales

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By Jay McCall

Honing its vertical market expertise and integrating IT solutions and services with physical security sales are keys to this physical security integrator’s projected 20% growth.

When it comes to growing your channel business, there are two basic starting points: broadening your existing solution set to include new solutions and services, or deepening your existing expertise. The former strategy enables you to sell more “things” to the same customer while the latter strategy helps increase your closure rate. While both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, security integrator Midstate Security is combining these strategies by developing deeper expertise within its existing security offerings and at the same time adding new complementary solutions and services.

Since its inception in 1981, Midstate Security has focused exclusively on selling physical security systems to customers in a variety of vertical markets. Today, 40 percent of its revenue comes from CCTV services, 25 percent is from access control sales, another 20 percent is from video surveillance service and monitoring, and the remaining 15 percent comes from selling fire and burglary alarm systems. Although Midstate Security has enjoyed revenue growth over the past several years, this year the company is projecting its new business strategy will yield a 20 percent revenue increase over last year.

“We hired a sales leader with years of experience in consultative sales ... and we’re making a concerted effort to be more vertically focused moving forward.”

Steve Premo, Midstate Security

Hone Your Vertical Market Expertise
Up until just last year, Midstate Security was a horizontally focused security integrator, with each salesperson’s territory comprised of customers and prospects of all sizes and representing as many as seven vertical markets. “We hired a sales leader with years of experience in consultative sales to lead up our sales and marketing team, and we’re making a concerted effort to be more vertically focused moving forward,” says Steve Premo, chief financial officer at Midstate Security. “The reality is that many of the key markets we serve are evolving at a fast pace due to factors ranging from industry regulations to fierce competition, and it’s just not feasible for salespeople, technicians, and project managers to be experts in every vertical market.”

With guidance from its new VP of sales and marketing, Midstate Security developed plans to become more knowledgeable about the business trends and needs within its key vertical markets. “Over the course of several months we sat down with key executives within these verticals and asked a lot of probing questions about their businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their business drivers and to learn about what new security and video technologies they’re looking at as well as what they’re looking for in a security partner,” says Greg Gkekas, VP of sales and marketing at Midstate Security. “The insights we gained from those meetings, combined with studying vertical-specific trade publications and consulting with business partners, gave clarity and confirmation to our new approach.” This year, the security integrator is building vertically aligned teams that include sales consultants, engineers, and project managers, and is training the teams to be more consultative when engaging with customers. “The goal is to move away from superficial conversations focused on product specs and to uncover broader business goals held by multiple decision makers within an organization,” says Gkekas. “For example, in a hospital environment we may discover that the primary business driver is using technology to more quickly turn more beds. Midstate’s goal is to understand how our solutions can address that challenge and bring value in that area.”

One of the ways Midstate Security is accomplishing this goal is by changing its sales reps’ weekly meetings to develop their consultation skills. “We use Microsoft CRM to build profiles on customers and key candidates, and we make it a point to identify business goals and challenges of multiple decision makers within an organization,” says Gkekas.

Sell The Benefits Of Integrated Video
One of the benefits that resulted from Midstate Security’s interviews with healthcare and retail executives last year combined with Gkekas’ strategic vision was a new focus on how its traditional security offerings could potentially benefit other departments besides security. “In the past, we took a facilities approach and engaged with only security decision makers,” says Gkekas. “Since expanding our sales approach, however, we’re now seeing opportunities to integrate video surveillance with card access and even seemingly unrelated solutions like analytical software to provide additional business benefits to decision makers in finance, marketing, and merchandising,” says Gkekas. “For example, in retail, we formerly installed surveillance cameras with the goal of thwarting retail theft only. Now, we’re enabling customers to use those same cameras, integrated with analytics software, to identify traffic patterns within their stores, allowing them to make intelligent decisions about store layout and merchandise placement.”

Within healthcare, the security integrator is bundling video surveillance systems with card access systems to provide hospitals and other healthcare organizations tighter controls on medical supplies, controlled substances, and patient safety initiatives. “We’re even helping to reduce healthcare customers’ costs by using IP communications to integrate their security systems with existing LAN/WAN infrastructures,” says Gkekas.

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“We’re now seeing opportunities to integrate video surveillance with card access and even seemingly unrelated solutions like analytical software ...”

Greg Gkekas, Midstate Security

Add Cloud-Based Networking And Managed Services To Your Security Practice
As Midstate Security consults with clients and helps them discover how IT solutions could address various business challenges, it sometimes runs up against budget objections. To address this challenge, the security integrator is working with its value-added distributor partner, ScanSource Security (see page 28 to learn more about Midstate Security’s partnership with ScanSource Security) to provide cloud-based storage and security services. “This offering is especially attractive to small to midsize businesses that don’t have the employee resources to manage on-premises equipment, plus they often lack the financial resources to make large capital investments,” says Premo. “In a cloud environment, customers can pay a monthly subscription fee, which gives them access to all the storage and server resources they need at a fraction of the cost of owning it, plus it’s easily scalable as their business needs change.”

Midstate Security adds further value to its customers’ environments by bundling in remote monitoring and management services. The integrator uses a video management platform, which allows it to monitor customers’ video surveillance solutions. “Remote monitoring sales account for less than 10 percent of our revenue currently, but we see a lot of opportunity for growth as more customers embrace cloud services and discover the value of outsourcing these services,” says Premo.