Risk of Hiring IT Sales People

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 16, 2008

One of the sexiest but riskiest ideas in video surveillance is hiring IT sales people. It's easy to think that we are now moving into IT, the technology is new, the problems are different, the industry is being transformed. Unfortunately, it's just not the case.

In my experience, IT sales hires have been consistently poor performers. By contrast, good security sales people have been able to improve their IT skills to make a successful transition.

Here are the dangers:

1. IT sales people lack relationships in security. This cripples their ability to grow business.

2. IT sales people don't really know that much about technology so it's easier to train your existing sales people.

3. IT sales people are arrogant. Their arrogance makes them underestimate learning about security.

4. IT sales people expect to make more money than security sales people.

1 and 2 are the most critical explanations for the failures that I have seen.

Lack of Relationships:

As a sales person, your existing relationships are critical to meet your numbers. It's your biggest asset to cut down the time and costs it takes to close deals. When an IT sales person makes the transition to security, it takes them 6 months to simply figure who's who in the industry. They obviously are missing their numbers and struggle to make up for it. Say what you will about IT being the future but most deals are closed by working with security managers or security integrators. It's hard to have no relationships in these areas and win deals. Maybe if they struggle for a few years building relationships, it will eventually work but that's not a good result for either employee or employeer.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The main counterargument to this is that pucrhasing power is shifting from physical security to IT. Therefore, the value of security sales people relationships is being eliminated. If this is correct, then hiring IT sales people makes sense. However, this has been predicted for 3 years now and most industry participants (including myself) have been surprised about how slow that shift has been (e.g., the CEO of Intransa, an IT storage company, recently discussed their strategy of targeting security integrators). This is a strong indicator that this phenomenon is not as powerful as many have predicted.

Secondly, I believe that what is happening is that IT is generally not making decisions but is being called in to review (a different and secondary role in the sales process). With the first generation of DVRs and access control systems, the same dynamic occurred but power returned to security managers. I believe this will repeat iself (IT influence will decline in physical security)

Lack of Technology Knowledge:

90% of sales people's technology knowledge is a bunch of acronyms and canned phrases about market trends. That's ok. It's probably preferable because sales people win deals based on relationships and knowledge about the pricing and product offerings they have. Nevertheless, this reduces the value of the IT sales person. It's fairly easy to train security sales people on IT acronyms and market trends and much cheaper than bringing in a new person who knows nothing about your products or industry. (I worked in IT/telecommunications before entering security so this is not philosophizing, it's based on direct detailed experiences.)

The main counterargument to this is that security integrators lack the technical expertise and therefore should partner with IT companies. One, security integrators have been integrating IT systems for a decade (e.g., access control and DVRs). That is not to say, security integrators are as good as IT integrators technically. However, most security integrators have a solid foundation for today's IP video systems. If you are a security integrator and need to partner, it is best to partner with a smaller IT company or an individual. The amount of technical expertise you need is small and by partnering with companies smaller than you, you keep costs down and eliminate any conflicts over who is the prime contractor on the deal.

These two are the heart of the matter. But there are two other phenomenon I have noticed that make it worse.

Often companies try to hire senior IT sales people. Generally those sales people make significantly more money than their security counterparts (whether this is an integrator or manufacturer). They expect to make the same or more when making the transition to security. This puts burden on the hiring company to justify their pay, especially when they have difficulties performing (especially in year 1 when they are learning the ropes). Moreover, senior IT people generally look down on security because it is perceived as being less sophisticated. However, their hubris undermines deals because security managers and integrators can see the IT sales person's arrogance. Similarly, it hurts the IT person from really buckling down and learning the nuances of the people, players and practices of the security market.

The pattern of success I have seen is bring in younger people who have at most a few years of technology experience (sales or operational). These people are more hungry to become successful, less wedded to IT and will be ok with making less money while they are learning the ropes.

Keep your strong security sales people, provide them training, hire young tech guys but please, for everyone's sake, be careful with IT sales people.

Related Reports

VSaaS Usage Statistics 2018 on Jan 18, 2018
VSaaS has been a 'next big thing' for more than a decade. The prospect of managing, storing and streaming video from the cloud rather than...
Vivint Streety Video Strengthens Door Knocking on Jan 17, 2018
Vivint is famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) for mastering large scale door to door selling. The company has skyrocketed from a...
The 2018 Surveillance Industry Guide on Jan 16, 2018
The 300 page, 2018 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covering the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Hikvision NA Biggest Sale of 2017 (Twice) on Dec 28, 2017
Hikvision North America has been relatively disciplined the past 5 months, reducing the number of sales and the breadth of what is on sale. No...
Strong Outlook For 2018 on Dec 27, 2017
Integrators entered 2017 with a positive outlook on the industry. During 2017 we saw the race to the bottom hit bottom, cyber security...
NVRs - Embedded vs Separate PoE Switch (Statistics) on Dec 21, 2017
Many NVRs now offer PoE switches embedded, allowing IP cameras to be connected directly to the recorder. On the plus side, these units can...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Vivint Streety Video Strengthens Door Knocking on Jan 17, 2018
Vivint is famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) for mastering large scale door to door selling. The company has skyrocketed from a...
Axis: "It’s A Question Of Trust And Who You Want To Be Associated With" on Jan 17, 2018
Who do you trust? Who do you want to be associated with? Axis is raising hard questions to start 2018. In this note, we examine these questions,...
Software House Vulnerability Allows Inside Attacker To Open Doors on Jan 17, 2018
A vulnerability in Software House IP-ACM modules allows an attacker to potentially unlock doors, or perform other actions, on affected systems....
'Defiant' Hikvision 'Strikes Back' At WSJ And US on Jan 16, 2018
The fight is on. Hikvision and their owner, the Chinese government, 'strikes back' against the Wall Street Journal and US politicians raising...
Camera Course - Last Day - Save $50 on Jan 16, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 - register now. Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the...
The 2018 Surveillance Industry Guide on Jan 16, 2018
The 300 page, 2018 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covering the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
Edward Snowden Haven App Tested on Jan 16, 2018
Global coverage followed the December 2017 announcement that Edward Snowden was leading a team developing Haven, an app "that leverages on-device...
This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact