As every salesperson knows – right time, right place, right price. You need to add relevance to that list too, especially with factors such as the cybersecurity skills crisis driving the trend toward more and more services and cloud-based IT consumption. Relevance is a one-way ticket to value.
Who Employs Their Own Security Guards Any More?
In fact, unless you can address customer need for services with your own in-house expertise, and demonstrate a good working awareness of virtual IT consumption models rather than just the ‘old world’ of hardware and kit, you will quickly lose your relevance to those that do. Can you fully understand a customer who talks about VMs and hypervisors? Gaining this value needn’t cost a lot, and I predict that the investment in time and effort will pay off very quickly.
A two-speed channel?
Let’s not pretend that customers are going to suddenly stop buying product-based solutions. They aren’t. But hardware growth is undoubtedly slowing, in stark contrast to the runaway expansion of services-based revenues. Fail to transform and the immediate penalty will be failing to take advantage of a huge revenue opportunity.
Resellers are starting to shake-out into those who are adapting to the services-based, cloud-orientated, OPEX-centric, ‘SaaSonomics’ trend – and those who aren’t. Market relevance is draining out of one pool and straight into the other. While one group prepares itself for the impact of new cashflow models and necessary changes to commission plans for salespeople, the other group tries to pretend it isn’t happening. We could quickly see a two-speed channel with both streams diverging away from each other, making it steadily more difficult for old-school slow-starters to close the relevance gap on their born-in-the-cloud competitors.
Make the services dartboard easy to hit
Imagine the many essential layers of cybersecurity infrastructure drawn as the concentric rings of a dartboard or archery target. Reseller partners that want to own and drive value into their customer relationships need to understand how to satisfy needs and exploit opportunities at every level. Solutions and services map against this target with the most expensive and toughest to achieve at the centre, and the lowest scoring, easier pickings around the edge.
Imagine the same many-ringed target transposed onto an organisation’s physical, rather than IT, security needs. At the edges are the security guards who police the perimeter and snuff out the easy-to-detect threats. There are millions of security guards employed in the world, but what company keeps theirs on its own payroll anymore? No, today’s security guards are universally outsourced as an external service, not employed internally. This same trend is taking hold in cybersecurity too.
Partners that don’t currently offer services miss the target completely. As the saying goes, they “couldn’t hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo.” Nul points! Other partners with a comprehensive services arsenal will have a dart in every zone.
My advice is to build up services capability to suit the needs of target customer groups. For example, supporting those who are struggling to prioritise their finite time and effort on the burden of cybersecurity-related admin and process with 24/7 monitoring and alerting.
At the most basic levels, all customers will have an ongoing need for maintenance and support services, and structured, accredited education programmes. Less frequently, global logistics and project management services will be relevant to ensure complex rollouts go smoothly, as will financing/leasing in support of those OPEX rather than CAPEX payment preferences.
All of these services are arguably around the periphery of our dartboard target. Offer these in a structured and productised way, and you stand to syphon off significant annuity revenue streams. This leaves the way clear to collaborate with the customer on the more valuable projects that are integral to their business, with professional and consulting services that follow the lifecycle of the IT estate within the business – not just answering new requirements when they emerge.
I urge you to look at how the market is changing and see how hard it will be to carry on hitting your targets without recalibrating your approach. Your relevance is at stake, and services are the weapons you need.