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How to Create a Monopoly in an Esoteric Niche: Steelcloud CEO Brian Hajost (Part 4)

Posted on Friday, Jun 11th 2021

Sramana Mitra: Are the system integrators required to install something like this?

Brian Hajost: No, nobody is required to install it. Systems integrators use it because they have a program that requires that they do this hardening work. They use the product in that work. The product takes two minutes to install and two hours to train. We build it because we deliver products all over the world. My product is used in India by a large US medical device companies.

When the device comes out of the factory, it needs FDA and STIG compliance if they are going install it in a military hospital. We deliver all over the world. We developed a system from scratch where you could install it yourself. We provide training in that as well. It requires a lot of effort to make something that is hard simple enough where somebody can use it without tons of training.

Sramana Mitra: Do people write in, call in, or come through referrals, and then you let them do the trials and training? Is this done online or is there in-person selling involved?

Brian Hajost: We haven’t met half of our customers. I’ve sold to Fortune 20 companies without ever meeting them. I’ve sold to multiple government entities without having to meet them. Our sales cycle is fairly regimented. Someone calls or writes in and they say, “I want to talk about the solution.”

They want to find out if you are lying to them. They want to make sure that you don’t do all the things that they don’t want you to do and that you could do all the things that they want you to do. They want to veto the solution and make sure that it is going to work for them. They have a list of questions before they waste any more time.

An outcome of that is that our salespeople set up a demonstration. They need to organize their team of everyone who needs to see the solution. We either get them in a room or more than likely we are going to be doing a webinar call and we would go through a presentation and demonstration. All that takes 90 minutes. It almost never takes less than that. Sometimes it takes more. That is what it takes for them to see the solution.

The output of that is, “Do you want to evaluate?” When I say the system takes two minutes to install and two hours to train, every single one of our customers puts that to the test. Every one of them is going to install it and be trained on it before they buy it. What we say has to be what it is. During the evaluation, we found that our ability to train and install is so fast that it allows people to use that quickly. Sometimes it gets done within a week and it rarely goes more than 30 days.

When they are going for approval for the budget it’s not, “I believe this vendor and I took this trip and called this customer. I looked at the documentation and I think I know how it will work.” They see it working in their shop on their network and say, “Let me show you and let me give you a demo.” It reduces our sales cycle dramatically. The output of that is that you are going for approval to buy and once you get approval to buy then you go through the acquisition. Sometimes, in the government, the acquisition takes longer than it takes to sell them. That process takes usually 90 days. 

Sramana Mitra: How big is your inside sales force?

Brian Hajost: We have four people involved in sales. All of them do both inside and outside, but probably 90% are inside. 

Sramana Mitra: So they are four people doing all of this. How many customers do you have?

Brian Hajost: We are right now at 170.

This segment is part 4 in the series : How to Create a Monopoly in an Esoteric Niche: Steelcloud CEO Brian Hajost
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