Awecomm CEO: Security Products Must Be Tied To Business Priorities

‘It’s just the normal stuff that we sell, but now they’re motivated because it’s a productivity-increasing tool, not because we want to sell them new hardware,’ said Awecomm Technologies CEO Brent Yax.

Security solution providers must shift their conversations away from risk management to better address business priorities like data digitization, said Awecomm Technologies CEO Brent Yax.

A 2019 Gartner survey of business priorities found that only 7 percent of companies considered security to be one of their top three priorities, according to Yax. That pales in comparison to the 53 percent of businesses that told Gartner they want growth, Yax said, 80 percent of whom identified the digitization of data as the way to growth.

The Troy, Mich.-based MSP had historically focused on selling technical products rather than explaining how those technologies could add value to their business, Yax said. But given that customers typically saw their priorities as being misaligned with the security products Awecomm was bringing to the table, Yax said the likelihood of closing such opportunities was very low.

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“People are no longer concerned about what technical things they’re getting,” said Yax on Wednesday at NexGen 2019, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company. “They’re concerned about what they’re getting in terms of their business priorities.”

But by taking a different approach, Yax said that channel partners like Awecomm have enjoyed much more success.

For instance, Yax said Awecomm would have historically presented customers with an internal threat solution by emphasizing the enhanced monitoring, alerting, auditing, and endpoint security capabilities. However, Gartner found that risk management is only a priority to 7 percent of Tbusinesses, meaning that the solution provider would be unlikely to seal the deal.

But by focusing on digitization opportunities provided by the solution, Yax said Awecomm would be better positioned to speak to the 53 percent of businesses that consider growth to be a top priority. Similarly, Yax said the solution could help address the 23 percent of businesses that have prioritized improving their financial footing.

The internal threat solution is a monthly recurring operational expenditure, which Yax said will allow businesses to get away from unexpected capital expenditures. Operational expenditures offer more financial stability since they make it easier for businesses to forecast and predict future spending, according to Yax.

And for the 32 percent of customers looking for more stability and redundancy, Yax said the Awecomm solution addresses that as well by moving from an internal email server to the cloud-based Office 365 platform. Moreover, from an efficiency and productivity standpoint, Yax said the mobile capabilities in the solution make it easier for customers to collaborate and communication anytime anywhere.

The great part is that solution providers don’t even have to change any of their products they’re selling today to take advantage of this, Yax said. All channel partners need to do is adjust their messaging and build out the ability of their sales force to have business conversations, according to Yax.

“We change how we’re speaking about these things to address what’s important to the customer now, but we’re not necessarily changing the capabilities of our teams that are delivering the services,” Yax said.

The shift for partners is primarily around new education and delivery models, Yax said, and explaining to employees and engineers why certain metrics are more important now.

For instance, Yax said Awecomm created a productivity scorecard for clients that tracks the percentage of the workforce with dual monitors, the average age of their workstations, and the percentage of employees with laptops rather than desktops. Giving the customers a productivity rating based off these metrics motivates them to replace equipment to boost their employee’s mobility and performance.

“It’s just the normal stuff that we sell, but now they’re motivated because it’s a productivity-increasing tool, not because we want to sell them new hardware,” Yax said. “It’s just a change of conversation with the exact same services.”

Most MSPs are very technically inclined and used to talking about the features and functions in a product rather than the associated opportunities for customer growth and productivity gains, according to Martin Perkins, director of managed services at Fort Wayne, Ind.-based ABM.

It’s therefore very important for solution providers like ABM to reframe the security conversation by developing talking points for the sales staff that align the product bundle to business opportunities, according to Perkins. ABM plans to adopt this approach as it moves more into the security space, Perkins said.