A security company’s three keys to compete

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What does it take to be successful in the noisy, competitive security market? Based on the data we have on over 4,000 security salespeople, it takes three key competences, “Hunter,” “Qualifier,” and “Consultative Seller.” I thought it would be fun to dive into that data further for more insights.

Where Are the Hunters? 

Security company owners frequently seek our help because they are frustrated their salespeople just don’t hunt. After analyzing the data, I am not surprised. Only 24 percent of the security salespeople have the necessary traits to be proficient at hunting, compared to 70 percent of the general sales population. See the Hunter Competency table for what these traits are. 

So, does this mean they don’t know how to hunt? More likely, it means they just don’t do it or if they do, they’re not good at it. Either way, it’s a big opportunity cost.

What to do about it:

• If salespeople are not going to hunt or are ill-equipped to do it, can they be effective in other selling roles? If so, their compensation may need alteration to accommodate this.

• Have a compensation plan that both rewards closed business AND required hunting activities. Salespeople must create a certain number of their own leads AND close business to receive full commission.

• Don’t supply them leads unless they produce their own. Those “fat and happy” salespeople with a big existing client base may be less impacted by this approach and need comp-plan alterations instead. 

Inbound Marketing Produces Enough Leads

If your security company has a great marketing presence that produces plenty of inbound leads based on digital marketing efforts, social media, and good old-fashioned word of mouth—fantastic. But, insure your salespeople are most exceptional qualifiers.

Sorry for this bad news, but our data indicates only 15 percent of security salespeople are proficient at qualifying. They’re likely spending too much time on the wrong opportunities, believing that every lead that comes in is a good lead. Especially in a competitive market, wasting time is deadly. Your salespeople need to have the Qualifier Competency (see table) to insure they spend time closing the right opportunities.

What to do about it:

• Identify what makes a perfect target and why. Accept that not every potential customer is really a good lead and make sure everyone understands this. 

• Create a scorecard or checklist for qualifying to help weed out the wrong leads. Adopt the mentality of disqualifying.

• Focus on the AGREED UPON next step to determine if the opportunity is real or not. Be skeptical if a lead will not commit.

Distinguishing from All the Noise

The number of competitors, both traditional and new entrants, have blurred the lines between security and many other elements of IoT. Plus, the competitive onslaught comes from many different places that it’s even more critical salespeople are consultative. It’s a controversial term, but at its core, it means the prospect views the salesperson as a valuable consultant. This is the pinnacle of professional sales today. 

Sadly, only 16 percent of security salespeople are proficient at this competency. The number isn’t off much, however, from the general selling population, where only 22 percent are proficient.

Salespeople who become truly consultative will be most successful, whether hunting, managing existing accounts or receiving inbound leads to close. See the Consultative Seller Competency table for those traits that will distinguish the salesperson and the company from the competition. 

What to do about it:

• Establish a sales process focused on the “why” as opposed to the “what”. The true consultant salesperson strives to understand what really matters to the prospect or client rather than selling them their solution.

• Equip salespeople with a well-constructed value proposition that oozes what differentiates your company from the competition, and why. Avoid canned presentations and scripted responses.

• Focus on thought-provoking questions that demonstrate expertise, rather than claim statements that sound like every other weak salesperson. Use the value proposition to both create questions that help the prospect think about what they need while highlighting the differences between your solutions and the competitions. 

The Keys to Compete

There’s little that can be done to make the security market less competitive, but you can still compete effectively. Just get precise with the three sales competencies “Hunter,” “Qualifier,” and “Consultative Seller,” and you’ll have what is necessary to truly succeed.

*Source:  Objective Management Group

Gretchen Gordon is the president of Braveheart Sales Performance, which solves sales problems for security clients of all sizes. Gordon authors an award-winning sales management blog and was named a Top 50 Sales Influencer in 2017.