Offering Security as a Service

SaaS may be opening new revenue streams for security contractors to offer managed services across a wide swath of market niches, but still there are difficulties to negotiate. Find out from a group of integrators how they are overcoming challenges common to this business model.

There are distinct nuances in the sales conversation that differentiate a traditional physical access control system, compared to a solution that offers advantages the end user is oftentimes not familiar with. Learning how to communicate those benefits is a much larger mountain to climb than dealers perceive it to be, Szell says.

“For us, we had to train the sales force on how to sell the benefit of having ADS handle the access control services for the customer. It can be a challenge,” he says. “If the benefit and the solution are presented properly, the customer sees that the RMR is worth it to them.”

Gary Venable, proprietor of Kansas City, Kan.-based All Systems Designed Solutions, discovered a similar training deficiency after his company began adding central video command center services, remote monitoring and MAC about three years ago.

The company soon realized something was amiss organizationally. There were the unforeseen potholes in instituting a new business model, and adjustments were made accordingly. But most unexpected was the root cause behind the company’s initial sluggish sales. “We found the system integration person doesn’t relate to the RMR sales model very well,” Venable says. “We weren’t getting much business from our sales team.”

Among the various training available to security dealers/integrators entering managed services is offerings by manufacturers, dealer programs, and conferences such as ISC West, ESX and PSA-TEC. It was the latter event where All Systems Designed Solutions staffers received their initial schooling. And while the training was important to the operation, ultimately Venable found it necessary to take further action.

So, about a year ago the company set out to hire a specialist who had previous experience setting up MAC solutions and would be able to instruct others on staff about the intricacies and differences of the managed services sales model. And the scheme worked. “We are having reasonable success in the middle of a recession and getting service contracts, testing/inspection, and the online access control,” Venable says.

Among other adjustments made by All Systems Designed Solutions in the early going was developing internal paperwork for its sales staff. The company discovered their existing contracts and other conventional forms did not dovetail with the requirements unique to a managed services offering.

“It is an ongoing learning process. As a contractor your paperwork doesn’t match, at a very fundamental level, what a lease-sale or a managed service sale or a service contract, any of that. So we had to adjust our paperwork for that kind of offering,” Venable says.

Similar to learning the fine distinctions necessary to communicate the benefits of managed services in a sales conversation, so too are there necessary measures to employ to counter objections frequently heard about the SaaS model.

A common refrain from prospective clients new to managed services: They fundamentally do not perceive its inherent value proposition to their organization.

“They haven’t been through that horror mill with their systems crashing. It is one of the biggest challenges we have with new customers because they haven’t experienced losing all of their data,” says Robert Shore, president and CEO of SDG Alarmtronics of Flemington, N.J.

The objection stems from a customer mindset that is generally, I can buy this software and put it on a computer myself, so why would I want to go on your server?

“The way I overcome that objection is, ‘Yes, you can, but who is going to do backups? Who is going to update that software? Who is going to put a UPS on that system? Who is going to make sure the system is secure so not just anyone can get to it? If you are serious about security, you’ll let the professionals take it on,’” says Shore. “Only then do they begin to see the value of what we are doing.”

Shore is finding his greatest success selling MAC in the commercial office space market. Most of SDG’s MAC sales come via new clients, so the aforementioned objection is a common occurrence for its sales staff.

Tagged with: Features SaaS

About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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