Cisco in the Security Market
Part I - Get ready to change your sales cycles

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

The Cisco booth at the recent ISC West show in Las Vegas proudly displayed the video surveillance products of their recent acquisition, SyPixx. More than an acquisition or corporate strategy however, this direct move into the traditional physical security market by an IT powerhouse with one of the best sales organizations worldwide will change the playing field from a selling perspective. How could it not?

Not only do the traditional roles of corporate security and IT now converge within end user accounts, but as a result of new competition, the sales tactics and strategies of physical security manufacturers and their channels have been thrown a curveball. The days of security directors calling the buying shots without any concern about network infrastructure or involvement from the IT department are going the way of the VCR.

Today's security purchases involve more departments and people at higher levels, and must answer to business issues, not the least of which involve risk management and ROI. But today more security products are network-enabled, and the actual decision cycle for many vendors increasingly involves a person or group with whom the physical security market often has no experience at all, the Network Administrator. This new VIP in your sales cycle is the person or people who guarantee network connectivity and uptime so the business can run efficiently and make money.

The network equals corporate profits, and the security industry needs to understand and respect what network administrators do if they expect sales across corporate WANs.

Cisco and most IT vendors get it. They have made a living over the last 15-plus years making these folks very valuable to their selling cycles and very visible to executives within their corporate organizations. The network administrator holds the key to the IP kingdom and most physical security vendors and their channels have never spoken to them before

No wonder some in the physical security market want to ignore the convergence movement and open networking standards in favor of business as usual for the next five to 10 years. The problem is that the security market is moving quickly to IP and standards, with or without you. Interoperability issues aside, this is an entirely new sales process and it is every bit as important as your product strategy.

An actual example of the new sales cycle was explained to me recently when I spoke to one sales director at a major physical security manufacturer know for IP cameras and NVR products. He relayed a story about a sales call at a large internationally known company were several support folks from the manufacturer and representatives from their channel partner attended. Unfortunately for them, the network administrator showed up to the meeting "unexpectedly." He asked a lot of technical questions that the vendor and their channel partner could not answer. They took detailed notes and committed to get back to him with the answers.

Good Luck.

Read Part II: Last one to get his security application deployed across the WAN is a rotten egg! in the next issue of Today's Systems Integrator