Thinking Man #1: Downey and Selling Security

Analytics/ Analysis

As I spoke with Continuum executives at the Navigate 2019 conference in Pittsburgh, I was struck by how CEO Michael George has surrounded himself with highly educated professionals. It’s speaks to the corporate culture. So Thinking Man #1 is

Brian Downey, VP Security Product (and holder of a Doctorate in Business (DBA) from Temple University). 

brian downey vp security

Figure 1: In addition to being a Continuum executive, Downey is also an adjunct professor at Temple University.

We chatted about the challenges facing managed services providers (MSPs) selling security in the small and medium business (SMB) space. Downey framed it up as transactional sales versus selling insurance. The easy sale for SMB MSPs is at the transactional level. The MSPs sells stuff that brings instant gratification to the customer – a geek gadget perhaps that triggers an endorphin response. But the security sale is more of a prevention-based insurance policy sales cycle. “It’s also hard to sell deeply technical solutions to SMBs.” Downey said. I equated that observation to my time in the predictive analytics startup LeadScorz I was involved in where the customer essentially wanted to know what time that wristwatch revealed (but not how to build a watch).

“Another challenge for the SMB MSP is to convince his/her client that they need another tool. For example, the MSP has already sold 11 “tools” so why does the small business owner need a 12th tool?” Downey stated. “Finally its important to recognize the difference between an enterprise sale versus the SMB sale where the MSP tends to have strong individual relationships.

Fun fact: 78 percent of SMBs say they are spending more on security this year v last year