When it comes to selling just about any IT product — computers, servers, network security software and/or appliances, etc. it can be very difficult to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Maybe their products are a little cheaper but yours have a few different features. Some VARs and MSPs create IT bundles to differentiate themselves, but if all your competitors figure that out and start offering similar bundles, you’re back in the same predicament.
One way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to become an expert in a particular vertical market. Take the finance market, for example. According to data published on the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) website, there are approximately 1.3 million current and former FINRA-registered brokers and 17,400 current and former FINRA-registered brokerage firms in the United States. Additionally, there are 441,000 current and former investment advisor representatives and 45,700 current and former investment advisor firms according to data provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database. Although these firms and individual advisors have different areas of financial expertise, what they all share in common is that they are governed by the SEC and FINRA.
Neal Bradbury, VP of Channel Development and a Co-Founder at Intronis, talks about opportunities in this market in his latest blog, “Discover Sticky BDR Sales in the Financial Sector.”
Here’s a highlight from this informative article:
While it might be helpful to have a high-level understanding of all the SEC’s and FINRA’s rules, you need to become very well versed in these four rules:
1. SEC 17a-3. This section of the SEC’s guidelines addresses records requirements for certain exchange members, brokers, and dealers.
2. SEC 17a-4. This section defines books and records retention and archiving requirements.
3. FINRA rule 3510. This section of FINRA’s rules outlines business continuity planning requirements.
4. FINRA rule 3010. This section of FINRA’s rules details the requirements for the supervision of member firms. After you become well versed in these four rules, you’ll be ready for the next prerequisite necessary to win business in this market.
One of the reasons you should consider specializing in a vertical like finance is because unlike some of the other markets you may sell to, this one is much more concerned about avoiding stiff fines than it is about finding the cheapest IT to keep its business running. Also, once you earn a finance client’s business, and they entrust you to protect their sensitive data in the cloud, they are well aware that pulling that data out and moving it to another cloud provider’s data center would be a sure trigger for an audit — something every broker-dealer firm wants to avoid at all costs.