Resellers have to be well prepared to convince small and medium-sized businesses to put money into security products, according to a network specialist.

“”Talk about the threats, talk about what it can cost the customer, and position yourself not only as the network guy but the security guy,

too,”” Emanuel Green, a systems engineer at Cisco Canada who works with distributors, told channel players at an Ingram Micro Canada product fair on Tuesday.

The one-day session on storage and security saw vendors such as Cisco, IBM, Veritas, Citrix and Symantec discuss products and strategies for selling to small and mid-sized companies.

These firms usually can’t afford the technology staff or have the financial resources to keep up with security issues, Green said, which makes opportunities for system integrators and resellers.

One of the first blocks resellers have to get past is the belief by smaller businesses that a firewall is enough protection from network intrusions, he said. Often that problem starts at the top.

“”A lot of times decision makers are not up to speed on what the threats are, so their security gets lax,”” said Green. “”We have to get them to understand all the parts of security.”” Demonstrate the return on investment and buyers will understand the value of what is being offered, he said.

Technical decision makers can be allies, Green added. Because they’re not as focused on money, they need to be shown the benefits of products and services. But, he cautioned, the weapons of persuasion shouldn’t be vendor marketing sheets boasting product of the year awards. Instead, let customers try hardware and software.

Start with helping the customer build a complete network strategy that includes security, Green advised, leveraging the existing infrastructure and addressing business and technical concerns.

There’s no reason everything has to be done at once, he added. Solutions deployed in modules will meet the financial concerns of smaller customers, who will be able to pay for parts as they can be afforded.

Finally, he said, “don’t leave money on the table” – keep the relationship with the customer going. As you become a trusted advisor on security, more business will flow your way.

Green used to help resellers deal with enterprise-sized customers with big budgets for expensive Cisco equipment, so he knows how hard dealers have to work.

“”If we can educate partners to sell on value, not price, it can work out,” he said. “But,” he added, in the SMB market, “it’s a tough sell.””

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