How To Sell Technology That Hasn't Hit Customer Radar

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Palisade Systems has built its channel sales from zero to 57 percent in just nine months through creative sales techniques that make the benefits of data loss prevention (DLP) real to end users.

A year into its new channel and sales strategy initiative, Palisade Systems has hit upon a winning technique that is helping resellers gain traction at end customers' sites for a technology that is still not on the radar of many companies – a data loss prevention device.

The sales technique has taken the company's channel program from zero to nearly 60 in just a year. That's 0 percent of sales through the channel in the first quarter of last year to 57 percent of sales through the channel in the fourth quarter.

The new technique? A try-before-you-buy program for end customers that places a Palisade Systems device at their site for five days during which the device performs an audit of data leaks. The device identifies sensitive data leaving the company through e-mail, instant messages and other means, and stops the flow.

"At the end of the day DLP is still a new category," says Monty Holloway, vice president of sales and channels at Palisade Systems. "Most organizations don't have budgets for it. So we rolled out a secure assessment program. Partners find an end user who is willing to receive the appliance for a five- day evaluation. At end of five days we'll give you 18 to 40 page customized report showing you data leakage."

And that's been a chillingly effective technique. Holloway says one health care company in the northeastern United States showed more than 200,000 violations of their company's data loss prevention policies during that five-day trial.

Demonstrating the actual data loss has served as an effective sales tactic for Palisade's channel partners, whose ranks have swelled from 16 to 130 over the course of 2008.

Another differentiator for Palisade Systems' sales process for channel partners comes in the form of a new pricing model that offers end-user companies the 36-month perpetual license but pays partners 30 points of margin on the deal upfront. .

Holloway says that Palisade Systems' technology is geared toward sales-minded resellers. The device can be shipped to the customer site and set up in just 30 minutes remotely, he says.

Palisade Systems also offers a deal registration program and a mandated dual engagement strategy for its inside sales reps.

So far the program has escaped much of the economic shockwaves from the current recession, says Steve Brining, director of channels at Palisade Systems.

"We anticipated there would be a big knock to sales," he tells Channel Insider. "But we haven't seen any declines. We think it's because of the fact that we are an operational expense and not a capital expense." 

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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