Choose Your Own Go-to-Market Approach: Platform vs. Product

Author: Joseph Tavano, product marketing manager, Watchguard Technologies
Author: Joseph Tavano, channel marketing specialist, WatchGuard Technologies

Years ago, providing IT to customers was relatively less complex – a customer contacted you with a broad request for work they needed done, you provided an assessment, deployed hardware and/or software, and then you might not speak to that customer again until something broke or needed to be replaced.

How times have changed.

Today, IT providers have a plethora of decisions to make in how they go to market with their offerings. The advent of cloud-based services and solutions, combined with the rise of the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model over the past decade has transformed channel sales dramatically. Now, how you sell your solutions can be as important as the solution itself in terms of profitability, account growth, and customer retention.

In fact, many IT providers offering security are facing such choices today, asking themselves whether they should go to market with a full security platform approach, or to offer a more à la carte, product-based approach. And, with many factors to consider, the answer is not clear cut. Let’s explore these two strategies so you can decide which may be right for you.

Product Approach

This approach can be effective in two situations. First, if you know the customer neither wants nor requires ongoing services or management, then it can be a relatively straightforward transaction. However, given the overwhelming profitability of recurring revenue transactions, it may not be the best use of your team’s time to seek this type of deal out.

The second situation is one where an opportunity may present itself to gain a foothold in a known customer organization and approach it with a “land and expand” strategy as competitor contracts come up for renewal. However, that expansion is a gamble, and it could take years to realize if it ever happens at all.

Platform Approach

On the other hand, a platform approach to security clearly acknowledges that one security product alone is no longer sufficient for adequate protection. It relies on a strategy of convergent, layered technologies, automation, AI, and tightly integrated products that are designed to utilize data efficiently to stop threats before they ever happen.

This comprehensive approach is compelling and can help assuage non-technically oriented customers that they will have peace of mind that they are protecting their business with a strong security solution managed by an IT provider they can trust.

However, the platform approach is not “one size fits all,” as customer needs and requirements are rarely ever identical. Instead, build tiered packages around your vendor’s unified security platform, coupled with management and services your team can provide. This will provide the necessary flexibility to cater to a variety of customer businesses while also allowing room for growth. As threats evolve and technology advances to meet them, platforms will provide multiple cross-sell paths to upgrade customer sites.

Finally, there are numerous advantages to taking a platform approach regarding your profitability, operations, and billing, which can make a major difference in your long-term success. Instead of a stack of disparate products from multiple vendors, an all-in approach with one vendor can be highly lucrative. Plus, your customers can benefit from simplified billing that’s easy for customers to understand and increases your operational efficiency.

The Verdict

In today’s market, for most customers, it likely makes more sense to present your services as one unified security platform, rather than take a piecemeal approach to selling services one by one. A platform approach aligns with many major security vendors’ purpose-built, tightly integrated product portfolios, allowing for stronger protection from threats as well as greater efficiencies for you. By pitching an all-in-one package with tiers to cater to a variety of businesses, you are providing a more comprehensive level of security, and with that also comes trust from your customer. That “security blanket” of protection covering their business provides peace of mind that an aggregate, product-based approach just does not convey.

Additionally, by delivering a platform to your customers, you will likely reap greater rewards from your vendor’s partner program; allowing you to achieve higher status levels, see greater discounts, meet thresholds for higher rebates and much more. The margin alone in selling a vendor’s unified security platform while participating in their partner program may make this a worthwhile option.

Therefore, to realize a more profitable sale that sets up you and your customer for a successful relationship for years to come, be sure to offer a comprehensive, unified security platform–not just a single security product–and be ready for whatever comes next in both the threat and security landscapes.

Guest blog courtesy of WatchGuard Technologies. Read more WatchGuard guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.