So much of my background comes from being an end user and working as an integrator. Managed services aren’t new for so many of us; but selling them can be challenging. Especially when you may be essentially trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, as many customers are used to buying technology, having it installed and then being left to “run” it.

One of the biggest things that must shift when a security integrator begins to offer managed services is the understanding of the customer and the challenges they face. The idea is shifting your thinking from the “how” (the product) to the “why” (the problem being solved). There are a few steps involved in this process:

Listen. Before you ever mention a product or service — and arguably, before you ever talk about what you have to offer — a critical part in reaching the end-user customer is by listening. Listen to their story, mission, values and how they do what they do. Ensure you can grasp the concept of their business and its model for success. This critical information can tell you so much more about their needs than any RFP can.

Understand the challenges. Once you have a firm grasp of who the customer is, begin asking questions. What are the biggest challenges they face as an organization overall? What about the challenges they have with security? Who makes the decisions? Do they have an IT department? How are changes made to technology or purchases made? When an end customer is ideally suited to a managed service, it usually means they don’t have a lot of internal support to keep up with updates, manage the amount of data housed on a network or oversee day-to-day operations.

Take a pause. While many integrators can make the determination that a customer would benefit from a managed service quickly, it’s important to take a pause and really consider the fit. Allow customers to ask questions about the use of managed services, the implications and the cost so that they can determine if this is a good fit for their organization.

Start the relationship. I shy away from the phrase ‘make the sale’ because that’s not what the goal is of the managed service sales process. Instead, the ongoing nature of the ‘sale’ is about forming a relationship and ensuring that both parties have a stake in the success of it. For the integrator, it’s critical to keep the end user happy with the level of service being provided, starting with the set-up of the service and all the way through ongoing support. For the end user, it’s important to communicate regularly to ensure their needs are being met as new features are added, updates are conducted, and any issues are addressed in a timely manner.

The new way of doing business is shifting thinking and taking what the end user’s challenges are (the WHY) and seeing if you can offer them the HOW to get it done. The way forward for the modern integrator offering a managed service is shifting focus to how the customer needs to be treated: as a true partner in every sense of the word. — Contributed by Nigel Waterton, CRO, Arcules

This article is a companion article to SDM’s Security Services feature. Read the full feature on Opportunities in Security as a Service here!