Selling a solution

Demand for security solutions is at an all time-high with spend in the billions. Off the back of high-profile hacking, ransomware and malware, cyber security is under scrutiny more than ever. Jonathan
speaks to the Channel to find out how retailers can take advantage of the fervent demand and how it’s not quite as simple as selling any old product

Business is booming… if you’re a hacker. The recent spate of ransomware and malware attacks has cost organisations around the globe hundreds of thousands, and has fetched the nefarious programmers a pretty penny as well. 

As a result, demand for security solutions has gone through the roof with last year’s Cybersecurity Ventures’ Cybersecurity Market Report predicting that cybersecurity spend will top $1 trillion between 2017 and 2021. And high-profile examples like the much talked about WannaCry and Mirai botnet attacks are key contributing factors, says Heimdal Security UK and Ireland country manager Alan Case and CEO Morten Kjaersgaard. ‘Cyber attacks on a large scale and malware in large volumes’ are ‘fueling the growing appetite and interest for cyber security tools and services’, they claim.

But it’s not just the scale of attacks that is driving demand for cyber security solutions, say the pair, identifying ‘aging technological infrastructure’ and ‘new regulations’ as other aspects at play. Likewise, Kaspersky’s head of retail sales David Mole notes ‘the growth of the internet and the IoT’. 

Now, with security organisations and consumers, as BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman puts it, ‘taking cyber security a lot more seriously than they have in the past’, many more opportunities have opened up for the Channel to provide solutions, but the biggest question facing the industry is how best to get those solutions to the people who need them. 

While it’s easier than ever for consumers and businesses alike to go directly to vendors and buy security software from them, retailers can still play a vital role, but they have to be smart about it and adapt to their evolving role. 

“Don’t just offer products, offer a solution,” asserts Westcoast technology solutions business manager Wesley Lawrence. “Show you understand what the customer’s problem is, and offer a multi-vendor solution stack instead of point products.” 

It may take something of a change in tact, but in order to sell security more effectively in the long-term, retailers need to think of the software they’re selling as less of a product and more of as a service.

“Keep in contact and prove your worth to your customers, is my advice,” says Lawrence. After three or four deals that prove they work and solves the customer’s pain is usually where they start to see you as an advisor instead of a person trying to get them to buy something.”

As with most things in business, strong relationships are key to seeing success with security. And this may all stem from, oddly, services like Spotify and Netflix.

“Don’t just offer products, offer a solution” 
Wesley Lawrence, Westcoast

“Increasingly, as consumers we are becoming more accustomed to paying for things via a subscription model,” says Mole. “Subscriptions may start with a free trial and later move to a paid service at a later date. Or, the service can be enhanced driving increased value over time, for example, by upgrading functionality or offering new features. It can also allow consumers to pay only for the specific level of service that they want with the result of maintaining higher loyalty. 

“All these monetisation methods can help to build a positive relationship with the subscription consumer. As a result there is significant potential for a much higher lifetime value.”

However, it’s not just the core security software that is on offer these days. With an increasing number of connected devices entering both the home and the workplace, vendors are going to what Symantec EMEA consumer product specialist Gareth Lockwood refers to as the ‘point of contact with the outside world and with the internet’ by producing hardware with in-built security software – and selling hardware is something that retailers know very well.

Symantec (featured in our Big Interview on Page 18) is one such firm, with its soon-to-be released Norton Core. Likewise, BullGuard has a similar product called Dojo which, as Lipman says, ‘is designed to exclusively protect IoT devices’. And TP-Link has its Deco M5 which is so popular that retail sales director Lino Notaro announced that the company ‘is struggling to keep up with demand’.

But before everyone shifts their cyber security business model to be based primarily around hardware, it’s worth noting that these are largely new and expensive bits of tech that are still early in their lives. 

“For the moment, the adoption of hardware with built-in security software is rather slow and software is still bound to dominate the market in the next few years,” note Kjaersgaard and Case. “However, the tendency to integrate and make things easier for the home user is very strong. And it makes perfect sense to simplify the tools that security companies provide for their customers, while enabling them to make the most of their purchase through education.”

So that might be the long-term, but what about now? What can retailers do to make sure that they are providing a compelling solutions service to their customers? The most vital thing for retailers to do, according to Lawrence, is to ‘arm yourself with knowledge’. He adds: “Reach out to your distribution security partners and ask questions. Attend vendors webinars and simply up skill yourself.”

Business may be booming in the security world, but the Channel will miss out unless it has the knowledge necessary to take advantage. 

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Security – in association with BullGuard – is running throughout September 2017 – click here for more articles

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