Technology and market trends are influencing the evolution that is taking place in the IT security landscape. Big Data, mobility, the Cloud, and the Internet of Things have made dramatic changes in IT network accessibility, flexibility, agility, overall performance, and most important of all, IT security.
However, risks are part of doing business and IT security is a present and real concern — from infrastructure to servers, applications, and endpoint devices. In recent years, security breaches resulting in huge financial and reputation losses have not been rare. The Target Corporation data breach, the JP Morgan Chase hack, and the millions of potentially compromised user records at Adobe are security eye-openers that can be remedied with proper security measures.
Cybercrime will continue to grow andhave bottom-line financial impact due to ongoing and new vulnerabilities.
Cyber attacks are a reality and attackers are seeing more opportunities in the Cloud and the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) environment. They employ targeted attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and other evasive techniques without being detected, at least for some time.
It’s important Cloud providers and businesseswork together to craft a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA). It should includea fail-proof security provision to serve the customer’s unique needs. Company IT departments should likewise review BYOD programs and implement secure mobile device management (MDM) solutions.
Customers place higher priority on functionality over cost.
IT security cost is a big consideration, but recent Gatepoint Research respondents were more interested in how security solutions can meet unique requirements. For instance, can the solutions do what they are looking for? More than the ease of use, can the solutions meet their objectives? Will they spend only for the features they need?
AnotherGatepointResearch discovery is the growing IT security budgets in mid-sized, retail, and health care companies.
Publicized hacks in the retail and health care sectors have resulted in massive credit card thefts and patient data exposure, respectively. Such developments offer an opportunity for vendors, Service Providers, Telecom Agents, Solutions Providers, and other IT security sales channels to step up marketing and sales efforts in these market segments. IT security sellers must understand buyer behaviors and the nature of security needs in these sectors amid changing technology trends.
The security basics are indispensable.
Telecom Agents and the rest of the IT security sales chain need to revisit the basic security programs of their customers. Virus protection is still a key security option in all layers of the security network. Mobile storage security can be achieved through hard drive, flash drive, and optical disc encryption as well as implementing anti-malware solutions, remote management, and options to wipe out lost, stolen, or compromised devices. Secure logging, authentication, and encryption also ensure a more efficient and protected IT security infrastructure.
With the growing intensity and sophistication of cybercrime, a purposeful effort at proactive threat detection and prevention is ever better now than a struggle at recovery and reconstruction later. Overall, sellers who exude a sincere concern for their customers’ IT security needs will always win more business.
In a massively networked world, telecommunications play the crucial role of connecting people, devices, and processes in the information community anytime and anywhere. Globalization, digitization, and intensifying competition are the driving forces behind the on-going telecom alliance movement where simple licensing agreements, affiliate marketing efforts, joint ventures, consortiums, mergers, and acquisitions are becoming increasingly common.
In a paper titled,“Strategic Alliances in the Telecommunications Sector,” author Eva Meurling, LL.M., states that about 80% of all strategic alliances are dissolved at an early stage because they do not achieve the desired goals. Often, partners fail to do their part of the bargain in terms of finance, marketing, management, and technology. More significantly, partners frequently gave insufficient attention to the underlying factors that create truly lasting alliances. Here are some of them:
Choice of Partners
Alliances come in different forms and sizes and from divergent locations.Telecom operators can partner with each other, or with other players in the field, such as non-telecom companies, telecom agents, Value-Added Resellers (VARs), or managed service providers (MSPs). Choosing the right partner is the first logical step to forging a meaningful alliance that fulfills the partners’ mutual needs. This early stage determines whether a potential partnership offers the right mix of resources, capabilities, and commitment that will add value to the new alliance.
Mapping Alliance Goals with Clarity
By diligently learning about each other’s objectives and agreeing on them, partners are better able to plan a common direction for their alliance. Partners must clearly map out:
A shared purpose
The processes by which the agreed purpose is to be realized
The performance expectations of the strategic alliance
Documenting the Alliance Agreement
Putting every term, condition, and provision on paper ensures that the rights of all the partners are properly protected during and after the life of the alliance. A formal agreement also serves as a reference document for duties and responsibilities, accountability, disputes, claims, and other legal issues. More importantly, the partnership contract functions as a general guide to the future development of the alliance, ensuring that it is in accordance with the agreed-upon objectives and plans.
Trust and Credibility
Partners depend on each other to share information in order to satisfy mutual goals. Trust depends on a complete awareness of each partner’s true intentions, honesty about problems, openness to disagreement, and the commitment to maintaining confidentiality of trade secrets and key information. Credibility means that each partner believes in the other’s capabilities. Credible partners are expected to share knowledge and competencies freely in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.
Communicating and Validating
Communication in alliances should be a two-way process where messages are sent, received, and responded to efficiently. Regularly validating that messages have been received, and understood as intended, helps partners bond better and so cultivate a robust alliance. Listening is an important component of effective communication. It not only develops transparency, openness, and a clear understanding of issues, but also generates new ideas to foster healthy relationships.
The telecommunications market is one of the largest economic sectors of the world. Analysts foresee a growth in strategic alliances as telecom companies try to get ahead. Successful telecom alliances are the key to acquiring new technology and skills, discovering new markets, and benefiting from the economies of scale, while thriving in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Successfully selling telecommunications services requires in-depth knowledge of clients and their needs. Telecom buyers increasingly demand custom solutions, tailored to their exact situations. Telecom agents who understand this, and look to fill those specific needs, will be far more successful in finding steady clients.
For many companies, the best way of achieving this is with detailed “buyer personas.” These personas can then inform and guide their sales processes to maximize conversions of website visitors to clients.
Building Accurate Buyer Personas A buyer persona is, in a nutshell, something like a profile or character sheet. It’s a multi-page document that attempts to describe, as accurately as possible, a typical client or buyer and their overall situation.
What goes into a particular company’s buyer persona will be wholly individual to them, based on their own business goals and client base. However, a well-made buyer persona will usually include most or all of the following elements of a typical buyer:
Basic demographics and socioeconomic indicators
Their position/role within their company
The typical buying process at that company
Sources of information they use for research
The challenges they face, at home and at work
Common problems at work they’re looking to solve
Services that frequently appeal to these buyers
While every buyer will be different, a well-written buyer persona will provide a good overview for sales and marketing purposes. The better individual buyers are understood, the easier it becomes to pitch solutions that will appeal to them personally and, thus, seem better-suited for the company they represent.
Usually, the best way to gather this information is through direct research. Satisfaction surveys and face-to-face interviews can provide a wealth of valid data in building personas.
The Buyer’s Journey Sales experts generally break the process down from the point of view of the buyer, identifying three common stages in the purchase process. Most, if not all, buyers will be following this same basic “journey.” The stages are:
1 – Awareness At this point, the buyer becomes aware of a problem that’s affecting their productivity or happiness. At this stage, they may or may not be aware of solutions, just the underlying problem.
2 – Research Having identified a problem, they start taking steps to rectify it. This is virtually always accomplished through research of some fashion. They attempt to educate themselves on the topic and, very frequently, begin thinking about budgeting and buying criteria in preparation for pitching a purchase to their boss.
3 – Decision Having done the research, and created buying criteria, they commit to a single purchase that hopefully fulfills those criteria.
To make sales, it’s vital that a company insert itself into this process as early as possible. Ideally, the right piece of messaging can even create awareness by displaying solutions to a problem the buyer is experiencing, but had not yet identified as a problem. Failing that, a company should work towards being discovered as early in the research process as possible. The first few solutions a buyer discovers are likely to be the ones given the most consideration.
Or, put another way, the further buyers are along in their journey, the harder it becomes to change their path.
Well-crafted buyer personas make this process much easier by identifying key needs and motivations for buyers. When a telecom agent understands the problems that clients face, it becomes much easier to ensure that their message is heard by buyers early enough for their product to become a serious buying option.
By combining data-gathering and focused messaging, independent agents will have an easier time appealing to new clients.
The push among businesses to adopt Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options is only gaining momentum. The SaaS industry is adding billions of dollars of growth every year, making it a huge growth market.
What makes SaaS sales unique is that most companies investigating SaaS already want it. They are aware of many of its benefits, but need reassurance that SaaS implementations exist that will fit their individual needs.
By and large, selling SaaS boils down to emphasizing seven key aspects and demonstrating how they can be adapted to the specific client’s business. Then, clients should really sell themselves on the relationship.
7 Key Factors Driving SaaS Sales
Outlining the seven key benefits of SaaS can help transition into a conversation about features and the client’s systems.
1. Lower upfront costs. SaaS requires little or no new on-site hardware, and other costs are often amoritized into the monthly bill.
2. Fewer IT burdens. SaaS moves most or all daily IT work onto off-site staff and reduces internal IT department needs.
3. Less long-term commitment. SaaS requires fewer hardware investments and usually no long-term contracts, so businesses have freedom to explore other services if the first try doesn’t work out.
4. Rapid rollout. Once again, less hardware and fewer employees required means a quicker path from planning to practical implementation.
5. Greater flexibility. Services can be added, changed, modified, or swapped out at will. For instance, if business needs change drastically in six months, SaaS services can be updated within days or even hours.
6. Modern software compatibility. Cloud-based software seems to be the wave of the future and being tied to terrestrial hardware can hold companies back. SaaS solutions can be easily updated to stay cutting-edge.
7. Go-anywhere access. It’s a global business environment. Employees should be able to work from anywhere.
With these key factors on the table, it should be easy to get potential clients to start thinking about how to improve their own systems. The only thing they really want to hear is that their desires can be fulfilled.
Helping Customers Sell Themselves
If the client needs a few incentives, these are the most effective at overcoming pain points, pricing concerns, or the fear of changing computer systems.
I. Free Demos
A month of free service won’t just sell a customer on the utility value of the software; it’s likely customers will have to migrate systems over just to try it out. And with that hard work done, why would they go back?
II. Low Introductory Rates
Make the up-front costs as low as possible and spread out the rest into the monthly service plan. Up-front costs are the #1 pain point for businesses upgrading systems.
Effective SaaS Sales Build Bridges and Trust
For most leads investigating SaaS, the question isn’t whether they want it. The question is whether they can find a SaaS implementation that meets their needs. A positive client-focused approach, paired with a can-happen attitude, builds the trust needed to seal a new partnership.
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