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

Startup Flock Declares Itself "The New Standard For Neighborhood Security" on Dec 15, 2017
Mega startup generator YCombinator has backed a startup targeting neighborhood video surveillance and security. Flock Safety is taking a...
Integrator Managing Projects Statistics on Dec 14, 2017
Who actually manages projects for security integrators? Does the average security integrator have dedicated project managers, or are technicians,...
Testing DMP XTLPlus / Virtual Keypad Vs Alarm.com & Honeywell on Dec 13, 2017
DMP has a strong presence in commercial intrusion alarms, but not in residential. However, the company's XTLPLus wireless combo panel and Virtual...
Integrator GPS Vehicle Tracking Statistics and Success Examined on Dec 08, 2017
GPS vehicle tracking is a growing but somewhat controversial topic. On the plus side, tracking may increases productivity by providing greater...
Security Integrator IT Expertise Statistics on Dec 07, 2017
20 years ago, putting physical security systems on IP networks was just emerging. Today, almost every system is networked in some way, IP cameras...
Risks Of Managing End User Passwords (Statistics) on Dec 05, 2017
Integrators know admin passwords for nearly all end-user systems, according to IPVM statistics. But how do they manage them? How do they ensure...
Top Recommended Home Video Surveillance Systems By Integrators on Dec 01, 2017
Friends regularly ask security integrators for their recommendations for video surveillance systems, trying to tap into the expertise of their...
Favorite Surveillance Monitors Statistics on Nov 29, 2017
What monitors are most commonly used for video surveillance? Are they more typically consumer or professional? Are there specific brands that...
The Race To The Bottom Is Over on Nov 28, 2017
The race to the bottom in video surveillance is over. After 3 years of aggressive price cuts and heavy sales and marketing expenditures, the...
IndigoVision's CEO Out / Ex-Avigilon Exec In on Nov 27, 2017
After 6 years as CEO of IndigoVision Marcus Kneen has abruptly resigned, with the board nominating Pedro Simoes, IndigoVision's recently hired SVP...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Startup Flock Declares Itself "The New Standard For Neighborhood Security" on Dec 15, 2017
Mega startup generator YCombinator has backed a startup targeting neighborhood video surveillance and security. Flock Safety is taking a...
Directory of VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Dec 15, 2017
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2018 State...
Integrator Managing Projects Statistics on Dec 14, 2017
Who actually manages projects for security integrators? Does the average security integrator have dedicated project managers, or are technicians,...
Hikvision NVR Load Testing on Dec 14, 2017
IPVM members recently debated Hikvision NVR's performance under load in Hikvision 30+ Cameras On NVR - Apps And Client Really Slow Down And CPU...
This Manufacturer Shuns IP Cameras on Dec 14, 2017
One manufacturer has chosen a bold strategy in avoiding getting caught up in the race to the bottom: shun IP solutions. We spoke with an executive...
Testing DMP XTLPlus / Virtual Keypad Vs Alarm.com & Honeywell on Dec 13, 2017
DMP has a strong presence in commercial intrusion alarms, but not in residential. However, the company's XTLPLus wireless combo panel and Virtual...
BBC Features Dahua on Dec 13, 2017
Hikvision is not the only mega-Chinese video surveillance manufacturer getting global attention. Last month, the WSJ investigated Hikvision and now...
Hiring Camera Calculator Product Manager on Dec 12, 2017
We are working on making the Camera Calculator even better and hoping you can help us find the right person to join our team. IPVM is hiring a...
Testing $20 WyzeCam, The Money Losing Amazon Vet Startup on Dec 12, 2017
This startup is perfecting the old adage: We lose money on every sale, but make it up on volume But it is no joke. The company, Wyze Labs, is...
Xiongmai New Critical Vulnerability - Same Manufacturer Whose Products Drove Mirai Botnet Attacks on Dec 12, 2017
The Chinese manufacturer whose products were primarily responsible for the 2016 Mirai botnet attack has a new critical vulnerability, confirmed by...

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