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

Competing Against Siemens on Oct 16, 2017
Siemens entered the integration business with 15,000+ customers, through their acquisition of Security Technologies Group in 2001. Since that time,...
Long Time Industry Exec Leads New Security Franchise Offering on Oct 12, 2017
John Nemerofsky previously built and sold a $150 million dollar integration business, and then was VP of Niscayah from its spinout of Securitas,...
Surveillance Systems Remote Access Usage Statistics on Oct 11, 2017
Remote access is a major benefit and risk for video surveillance. It is a benefit because it allows users to manage security or review...
Genetec Launches Streamvault Hardware Revamp on Oct 10, 2017
Genetec is launching a new series of hardware appliances, dubbed "Streamvault", with updated capabilities and design. These units will replace...
Arecont EVP Schafer Ousted on Oct 09, 2017
Days after IPVM reported Troubles At Arecont Vision, the public face of Arecont and the incoming Chairman of the Security Industry Association,...
Ex-Avigilon SVP Global Sales Joins IndigoVision on Oct 09, 2017
IndigoVision has pulled a well-known ex-Avigilon sales leader back into the security industry to head up their global sales...
Favorite Integrator Mobile Phones 2017 on Oct 06, 2017
Smartphones are more critical than ever before, with integrators relying on them not only for contact while in the field, but for business...
Troubles At Arecont Vision on Oct 03, 2017
Arecont is facing big problems. But Arecont says the future is 'bright'. In this note, we share feedback from Arecont and from sources close to...
Vivotek Delta Acquisition Concludes on Oct 02, 2017
On August 8, 2017, Delta Group made an offer to acquire Vivotek. Now, the acquisition process has concluded. Inside this note, we examine the...
Knightscope Financials Reveal Huge Increase In Expenses And Incorrect Accounting on Oct 02, 2017
Knightscope's H1 2017 financials are out, in the midst of their ongoing crowd funding approaching $17 million. In this note, we analyze...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Buy From B&H, Ship Direct From ADI on Oct 16, 2017
B&H, one of the largest online sellers of video surveillance equipment to end users, regularly purchases their video surveillance equipment...
Competing Against Siemens on Oct 16, 2017
Siemens entered the integration business with 15,000+ customers, through their acquisition of Security Technologies Group in 2001. Since that time,...
Geovision GV-EDR2100 Tested Vs Hikvision on Oct 16, 2017
A number of ADI's top selling IP cameras are, at least surprisingly to us, from Geovision. We recently bought and tested the Geovision EDR2100...
Top Problems Searching Surveillance Video (Statistics) on Oct 13, 2017
When crimes, accidents or incidents happen, the video surveillance system is a key component in finding out and proving what actually...
Exacq M Series Low Cost NVR Tested on Oct 12, 2017
With recent cyber security issues hitting NVRs and cameras from low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision, users are increasingly seeking alternatives...
Long Time Industry Exec Leads New Security Franchise Offering on Oct 12, 2017
John Nemerofsky previously built and sold a $150 million dollar integration business, and then was VP of Niscayah from its spinout of Securitas,...
PoE Powered Access Control Tutorial on Oct 12, 2017
Powering access control with Power over Ethernet, like for IP cameras, has become increasingly common.  However, the demands for access power are...
Knightscope Rockets To $20 Million Funding on Oct 11, 2017
Knightscope is celebrating. 15 months after running over a child and 3 months after a Knightscope robot drowned, Knightscope is having the last...
Avigilon / Canon New Lawsuits, No Settlement on Oct 11, 2017
In July, Canon sued Avigilon, a notably rare move amongst major players in the industry, including Canon's subsidiaries Axis and Milestone. At...
Surveillance Systems Remote Access Usage Statistics on Oct 11, 2017
Remote access is a major benefit and risk for video surveillance. It is a benefit because it allows users to manage security or review...

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