Four factors that make up the security vendor ‘sniff test’ can help determine whether a new technology is worth investing in, says Gerard Kerrigan.
Security, both physical and electronic, is something we read about every day in the newspapers. Whether it’s terrorism, theft of call centre records or the latest virus, it has an impact on our lives. With so many problems, there is obviously a myriad of solutions.
You will all read, like I do, about the latest and greatest new product, that is going to change the way companies manage IT security, but also make you a fortune in margin for selling it. But how do you tell the difference between something that will make you money and something that will waste your time. How do you apply the security vendor ‘sniff test’? I think its four basic factors – marketing support, sales strategy, flexibility and customer need.
What support is the vendor offering to educate the market and support the sales cycle? Often there is no denying the technical brilliance of what a PhD student in the Valley has dreamt up, but are you going to spend a year doing their PR before you shift anything? This has to be the responsibility of both vendors and resellers through direct team activity, internal vendor sales and a demonstrable commitment to joint marketing activity.
Will they leave you alone to do your job free from crossover with their own sales drive? VARs have enough competition from other resellers, let alone vendors. The mixed model of selling often breeds a lack of trust, which has serious implications for both parties. You want sales support, but not sales competition.
Often the customer is forgotten in all of this. Did anyone ask them what they want to solve their security problems? If a customer is bringing a new problem to you then its worth looking at solutions to meet that need – not the other way around. Speak to customers, find out what they need to protect their businesses and then build a portfolio around it.
Is the vendor flexible to your needs? Smaller resellers have different requirements than larger established ones. Smaller resellers initially need more support, but can go and close business quicker than the larger players. Vendors must adapt their resources to resellers, recognising that one size does not fit all.
Remember that a vendor’s innovation does not equate directly to the size of the margin you make. Whilst innovation still lies at the root of our industry, those that pass the ‘sniff test’ will be the ones who have the experience and commitment to back up their technology and develop a truly profitable partnership.
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