Cisco expert exposes ways to sell security and storage

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Resellers have to be well prepared to convince small-and medium-sized businesses to put money into security products, according to a network specialist.

“”Talk about the threats, talk about what it can cost the customer, and position yourself not only as the network guy

but the security guy, too,”” Emanuel Green, a systems engineer at Cisco Canada who works with distributors, told channel players at a recent Ingram Micro Canada product fair.

The one-day session on storage and security was the first of what Ingram calls Technology Exposes for selling to small and mid-sized customers. Similar events will be held in Montreal and Vancouver.

The security show saw vendors such as Cisco Systems, IBM, Veritas, Citrix and Symantec discuss products and sales strategies.

Among those attending was Ken Eygenraam, manager of Mississauga, Ont.’s Incorporated Computer, who wants the company to move from selling mostly hardware to integrated security solutions. Rick Polite of Gibralter Solutions came to stay abreast of new products, while Neil D’Andrade of TSI Ltd. came to learn more about recommending security solutions.

One of the first blocks resellers have to get past is the belief by smaller businesses that a firewall is enough protection from network intrusions, said Green. Often that problem starts at the top.

“”A lot of times decision makers are not up to speed on what the threats are, so their security gets lax,”” said Green. “”We have to get them to understand all the parts of security.”” Demonstrate the return on investment and buyers will understand the value of what is being offered, he said.

Technical decision makers can be allies, Green added. Because they’re not as focused on money, they need to be shown the benefits of products and services. But, he cautioned, the weapons of persuasion shouldn’t be vendor marketing sheets boasting product of the year awards. Instead, let customers try hardware and software.

Start with helping the customer build a complete network strategy that includes security, Green advised, leveraging the existing infrastructure and addressing business and technical concerns.

There’s no reason everything has to be done at once, he added. Solutions deployed in modules will meet the financial concerns of smaller customers, who will be able to pay for parts as they can be afforded.

Finally, he said, “”don’t leave money on the table”” – keep the relationship with the customer going. As you become a trusted advisor on security, more business will flow your way.

Green used to help resellers deal with enterprise-sized customers with big budgets for expensive Cisco equipment, so he knows how hard dealers have to work.

“”If we can educate partners to sell on value, not price, it can work out,”” he said. “”But,”” he added, in the SMB market, “”it’s a tough sell.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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