Intel Security CTO: Partners have to understand customer limitations

Intel Security CTO Mike Fey says partners who can work around customers' infrastructure and budget limitations will prosper, urges upsale model.

Michael Fey, CTO of Intel Security

Michael Fey, CTO of Intel Security

LAS VEGAS – In order to be truly successful in selling security, solution providers have to understand limitations – not so much the limitations of security solutions available in the market, but rather, the limitations of their own customers.

That was the message from Intel Security CTO Michael Fey to the company’s channel partners at its annual Partner Summit held here ahead of its broader Focus 2014 conference.

“The industry can do anything. But what are the real limitations the customer is up against? What can they, and can’t they, change in their infrastructure? What’s their budget pressure,” Fey counseled partners. “If you can bring in modifications to their environments that meets their needs and respects their limitations, that’s always a home run.”

Customer, Fey said are not afraid to try new solutions when it comes to security. But they are very afraid of those solutions failing. Therefore, he urged partners to “own the confidence” with the customer that failure is not an option with the new solution(s) the partner may be pitching. When they do that, “that partner wins every time,” Fey said.

Fey also focused on upsale, calling Intel Security a “better business” for partners because of the tendency of sales of one of the company’s products to drag additional purchases. Overall, a partner who sells a first product into a customer has an “eighty-something per cent” likelihood of bringing a second solution into the same customer.

“It grows and rolls. You can sell any endpoint you like. But what happens after that? Do you get five more deals, or do you have to start over?” Fey asked partners.

Some of the company’s biggest partners, he said, are partners for whom security is not their core focus, but rather their upsell or value-add, the “fries with that” portion of their sales.

“If you’re a security-only partner, your methodology dictates your partners, and your challenge becomes what your methodology is, and whether or not you can explain it to a prospect in three minutes. That’s where most partners fall down,” Fey said.

Fey, who will demonstrate the company’s new Threat Intelligence Exchange offering in a Wednesday morning keynote here, gave partners a preview to his pitch in his presentation at the Partner Summit. He said the strength of the product is its ability to react to potential threats in real time, while still allowing users to go about their business as much as possible.

“We are giving security defenses the ability say ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure.’ We’ve never had that before,” Fey said. “We’ve had the requirement to make instant decisions at line speed without impacting the user. When those are the requirements, you’ve got to let a lot through.”

TIE, he said, allows users to continue what they were doing while the system investigate and then remediates if it uncovers a problem.

“By next year, [customers will understand that it’s fundamentally different than anything else we’ve ever done in this industry,” Fey told partners.