Pay ASIS, Get Meetings With Security Whales

By John Honovich, Published Jul 26, 2013, 12:00am EDT (Info+)

Manufacturers, like casinos, want whales - huge customers who will spend the big bucks. Getting them, of course, can be difficult. Now ASIS has a new program that makes it easy for manufacturers to get guaranteed introductions and meetings with whales. It is called the Diamond Club Security Buyer's Forum [link no longer available] and all manufacturers need is $12,500 each.

ASIS picks the whales, noting that they restrict entrance to those security end users meeting these criteria:

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Comments (16)

If I was a manufacturer, I would not pay for this.

If I were a manufacturer, I would get as much info on the date, time, and location of the meeting and setup a booth outside the hotel where they are meeting on my own dime. Would likely cost much less than the $12,500 entry fee and you could set up your own tent or what have you.

Gary, to clarify, it's not just about being on site. I am sure it would be easy enough to go to the same hotel and 'network'.

The benefit is that ASIS sets these meetings up ahead of time, saying at 1pm you will meet with the CSO from BigCo, at 9am you will meet with the VP of LP at MegaRetailer, etc.

I am not sure if they have booths there but even if they do that's not where the main value is - it's the scheduled private meetings.

Having gone to the event in Tucson for the first time last week, my opinion of the event has changed. I went to it with a jaded pre-conception and I'm not a fan of the old wine, dine and 69 sales antics of our industry past. Pelco's private jet being one of the more notorious examples of such techniques or "events".

But seeing this one in action changed my thoughts about it. This wasn't a manufacturer hosting a resort event to "train" A&E "consultants" on how to properly spec their gear to ensure that they (and their spuse) are invited back to the next "training event". It was a few dozen motivated and active security product buyers looking to actively increase their knowledge about currently available products/solutions.

The arranged meetings allowed just enough time for 5-10 minute review of manufacturer's entire (or specific) product/solution and 10-20 minutes of discussion on customers problems, needs and plans. The value was not really in landing that one big "whale" customer. It was more in being able to have direct access to the one person at a few dozen such organizations that makes informed decisions for their company/institution. Just having that magic wormhole that bypasses all layers of sales including RSM's, Reps, Inside Sales, Consultants etc. and having a chance to speak directly with the person most interested in learning what's available. It actually removes a lot of the politics and sleazy schmoozing.

And to ASIS's credit, they picked an excellent assortment of cross-technology vendors to participate. Whether by design or by accident, they had one good company from most security disciplines. One pure IP/MP camera powerhouse. One pure SW IPVMS, One good hybrid/cross company of the above with large analog offering. The main thermal camera company. Solid access control co. Major door hardware company... I would bet that if you polled both the end users and the manufacturer participants, both would give high marks to the events knowledge transfer.

I was only there to support one of our partner companies and as such did a lot more watching and listening rather than speaking. Went to the dinner and breakfast mixers/presentations and overall there was very little sleaze or schmooze factor. In my opinion ASIS executes these with a good deal of class and professionalism and they seem to be providing value to both sides of the participants. Hopefully the same can be said for this year's main event in Chicago.

Undisclosed manufacturer, thanks. The issue I see is structural. Regardless of how 'classy' it was, the inherent setup means that certain manufacturers are going to get an 'in' over others, simply because they were willing to pay the $12,500 and their rivals were not. And if this was a distributor, that's totally understandable. However, this is ASIS and I though they were above this pay for access approach.

It may remove 'sleazy schmoozing' but it replaces it with sleazy payments. If ASIS felt specific manufacturers were best for certain end users, more power to them but why make it premised on manufacturers having to pay ASIS $12,500 for it?

Hi John,

It would be curious to find out how they do the vendor selection. There weren't many "competitors" there so it may be that they intentionally select one from each "category". I don't know if other vendors had the option to also come or if others were squeezed out once they had selected their one manufacturer from that category. If so, was it first come, first serve? Did they select one by thorough analysis and refuse the others this year? Do they give those that weren't there a chance to come the following year? Etc. Since they need to maintain a reaonable ratio vendors to the amount of end users that are agreeing to meetings, it may likely be that they are limiting it.

If on the other hand, the other manufacturers could have come to provided they paid the costs, then it really doesn't seem that untoward of a system. Like I said above, I think it was valuable for both sides of the attendees. The question just becomes, "How do they choose those on the vendor side?"

"If on the other hand, the other manufacturers could have come to provided they paid the costs, then it really doesn't seem that untoward of a system."

You know, now you got me thinking. Perhaps IPVM should do the same thing. From now on, let's feature any manufacturer who pays $12,500 say per quarter (or year, etc.). And if they don't pay, boom. We pull all our coverage on them. OK?

This strikes me as absurd. Organizations that claim to be dedicated to end users (whether ASIS or IPVM) should not be impacting their coverage / recommendations based on who is willing to pay them, right?

As an end user with a budget of over $1 million annually ($6 million this year) I would not be doing my company any favors by attending this type of limited access event.

Where's the competition? Where's the research? Where's the due diligence that must be associated with this type of budget?

To limit my options to only those companies that (essentially) paid for my access strikes me as absurd as well.

I would be extremely interested to know the skill set / background of those end users that felt the need to attend this conference rather than spend the time researching all options available. It would be even more interesting to get a glimpse at the systems / solutions these companies elect to deploy.

Finding out who attended them would be very interesting. Perhaps in the future, Carlton can make a trip to one of these events ;)

These events are more common in Europe, I've been invited to several with costs ranging from $5K - $15K EUR. Depending on MFR attendance the sponsor of the event may even call you back and offer you a "deal" to attend. The company sponsoring these events was not an ASIS type Org, but rather a private 'consulting" group

One of the things I'd ask for before considering was a list of the attendees. In one case the titles shown were almost all IT. Even though it was billed as a Security Consortium, it wasn't physical security but network security that seemed to be the focus.

The other had actual security titles and seemed legit, although I thought the whole "speed dating" concept wouldn't lend itself to much more than just paying to get a name, card and handshake to call later for an actual appointment. When i looked at budget, I decided I'd get more exposure for the buck doing an additional trade show. One other thought struck me when I looked at the CSO / VP titles - that being they're just going to refer me down to someone in their org that actually evaluates, recommends and may even be the final decision maker

To me this seemed a lot like being offered a free weekend at a Time Share if I was willing to set through the sales pitch. I wondered how many just took the free weekend and actually had any interest in the products presented?

Undisclosed, thanks for the feedback.

On the aspect of others offering similar events, SDM has been doing this for years - Security XChange - though, my understanding is that this event is more focused on connecting integrators to manufacturers and, of course, as a trade magazine that's what they are designed to do - market for manufacturers.

If I were a rinky dink, cracker jack manufacturer, I would jump at this. Respected manufacturers get meetings.

Hal, there are actually some big companies listed:

My guess is that the big manufacturers can more easily justify the costs.

Interesting. I suppose for these guys, its just another dip into a very deep marketing bucket. I think if I was sales management at these manufacturers, I'd be asking the reps responsible for these "Whale" end users why they weren't engaged already. I would expect, at the least, to see that significant attempts were made.

While I cannot address the ASIS event my two cents on a similar event:

As a Utility company with assets in 26 states we would fall into the “Whale” category however I’d prefer to think of us as a Fortune 150 company.

SecurityXchange has a similar format that I attended two years ago. I found the SecurityXchange conference very helpful.

I found the event very helpful as I had the opportunity to schedule (in advance) time with manufacturers that I was interested in. The meetings lasted 50 min. and I was busy all day long. I am still working with approximately 40% of the manufactures that I met during the trip. I attended the conference with my current Supplier. My supplier assisted in setting up the meetings and helped with the follow up meetings that we scheduled.

I’m not a big fan of wine and dine preferring to meet over coffee. The events at SecurityXchange did include a welcome reception and dinner each night however it was not “over the top”.

I did not attend this year’s SecurityXchange as we are in the middle of several Capital projects and I just can’t justify the time away from work. East coast to West coast costs me two days of work.

I think these events if done properly and without limiting the manufactures would be a benefit as long as you are in the market. Buyers have a duty to their companies and to the industry to be ethical and develop relationships that benefit their organizations. Partnerships that are developed over time and are mutually beneficial last the test of time.

John M. Lineweaver, Jr.

Update: The Diamond Club 2015 event is being prepared.

Rates have increased from $12,500 to $15,000, though early bird until April 17th is just $12,500.

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