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Death Of The Sleazy Salesperson

My first sales job was selling high end windows. My trainer had sold windows to almost everybody in a ramshackled part of town. We sometimes walked into these homes and pitched $50,000 worth of windows to someone whose entire dwelling wasn’t worth that much! He would encourage the prospect to get loans to buy these windows, when literally they didn’t have money to put food on their table.

That was my first foray into SLEAZY sales. (It was a very short venture, as I quit about a week into the job. Ethically, I couldn’t sell them something they couldn’t afford.) So if you’re feeling unethical or uneasy about closing a prospect on a service they don’t need, I 100% understand. But here’s the reality: your clients DO need what you are selling them.

Assuming you have a solid managed services offer, cybersecurity solution, or can co-manage IT with them, they need you. You are not unethical to pitch those services. Sales is not, at its core, an unethical profession. However, the way SOME people approach sales is wrong.

I am the Cybersecurity Sherpa; I help IT companies sell cybersecurity. Recently, I had a coaching session with one of my clients, and he said something shocking. He was having trouble closing sales, and as we diagnosed his challenges, he mentioned, “I’m not sure whether my small business clients really need cybersecurity.” 

WOW! You could have knocked me over with a feather duster! How would a technology professional think that cybersecurity is unnecessary for his small business clients? Of course he felt sleazy and slimy; he felt like he was selling ice to an eskimo! Which is the exact opposite of how you should feel! Without cybersecurity measures in place, small businesses will likely not survive. 

You Are Not An Unethical Salesperson

If you’ve read this far because you feel unethical or sleazy because you’ve been tasked with selling something that you feel your targeted buyers don’t need, then congratulations you are not an unethical salesperson. 

An unethical salesperson does not care what product he/she is selling, whether the buyers need it, or how much it costs. He/she simply focuses on how to manipulate them to make the sale. In fact, most salespeople are judged based on whether or not they hit quota, regardless of whether or not the prospect actually needs the service that’s being provided. 

Talk To Victims

If you feel uneasy selling cybersecurity to your prospects, the best way to gain confidence in sales (and overcome that sleazy feeling) is to talk to victims of cyber attacks. Reach out to other MSPs who have faced a ransomware attack or a breach (for one of their clients or for themselves.) During your conversation, you should focus on business impacts and how they felt about the situation (focus on their emotions before the attack, during the incident response, and after the fact.) Have this conversation with at least three different colleagues. At that point, you’ll be crystal clear on how a lack of cybersecurity can impact your prospects and their companies.

Market Research

Finally, you should talk with a few of your clients or prospects. Armed with the information from the conversations with your peers, you want to ask specific questions like: 

  • If your business data is stolen and sold to your competition, how much impact will it have on your business? What kind of impact? How does that impact affect your acquisition plans or hiring schedule?
  • If your business is shut down for few days or a few weeks, how will you affect your customer support, ability to track your hours, or perform other crucial business functions?
  • If you get hit with a ransomware attack, data breach, malware, or any other cyber attack, do you have systems in place to restore your operations in a short amount of time?

Because of the peer interviews, you’re now able to have a more focused discussion on the business complications that can arise if your clients don’t purchase cybersecurity services from you. 

If you need a list of business implications, mapped to which role would feel the effect most strongly, download our business implications cheat sheet here.

By highlighting genuine business implications, you will be confident that your cybersecurity services are needed AND that you are serving your clients well by offering them this valuable service.

Final Thoughts

Many business owners struggle with the slimy salesperson feeling. But if you are selling valuable services to buyers with a need (ahem, all small business owners need what you’re selling) then you have zero reason to feel this way.