Defensive IT Solutions is a consultancy firm with expertise in digital and physical security solutions. Cyber security is an extremely competitive industry to be in, however, Defensive IT Solutions have secured a continuous increase in gross profit, going from DKK 2.4 mil in 2019, to DKK 4.7 mil in 2020, to DKK 7.4 mil in 2021. An increase in gross profit of 208.33% in three years. We had an interview with Melanie Thygesen, who is Partner Director and Head of Sales in Defensive IT Solutions, to learn how they manage to stay ahead in such a competitive industry.
Melanie has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She started at a distributor as back office sales coordinator, and when colleagues started their own company, she was asked to join, where she took on a more product oriented role with focus on the distribution process. Melanie later worked with cyber security companies such as McAfee and always with focus on the distribution process. She didn’t find Defensive IT Solutions by coincidence, in fact, her husband and his business partner are the founders. During Melanie’s last maternity leave, she did some market research and consolidated with her network to find out whether there was a foundation for a partner channel strategy at Defensive IT Solutions. Her conclusion was that there was a gap in the market that they could fill, therefore, after her maternity leave ended, she started full time at Defensive IT Solutions.
As external consultants in the cyber security industry, Defensive IT Solutions experience initial hesitation from potential customers when they introduce themselves. Melanie states that it’s because of the general approach in the industry:
“If we come to a client and tell them about all their challenges, well, that is not always a fun conversation to have. So, it has to be delivered gently. When going out to clients and partners, we experience that when we tell them that we don’t sell hardware or software, their defenses come down. After we tell them that, they can likely sense that we are less biased, we are here to help, and they can actually get something out of this partnership. So that is one of our absolute biggest competitive advantages.”
A simplified way to look at Defensive IT Solutions’ approach, is push/pull strategy.
The market seen in this instance is defined by a push strategy where products are matched with clients. As argued by Melanie, certain products are being pushed by firms due to their partnerships with the companies who create those products. Often, the companies who made the products also work with different kinds of cyber security analysis themselves, with the purpose of pushing their own products.
In order to stand out and be closer to objectiveness in a rather subjective industry, Defensive IT Solutions have chosen not to sell any products. They can make recommendations as to which product would suit the client’s needs best, therefore pulling them towards certain products, but by going to the client without a product to push, Defensive IT Solutions gain the clients’ trust easier than competitors.
CSR benefits usually falls into two camps: 1) Direct, such as increased sales, and 2) indirect, such as name recognition, increased goodwill, and risk avoidance. Both types are worth pursuing, and for Defensive IT Solutions, both indirect and direct benefits can be seen.
Many companies post on social media platforms to give out advice to potential clients for free (you’re looking at one), sharing information that has been obtained through their work. With Defensive IT Solutions managing cyber security, their insights are quite valuable and could save many companies a lot of trouble in regard to cyber threats. To the point where they have key information about cyber threats that are likely to occur in certain industries, which they see as their moral obligation to share with the market at risk. Such actions have granted them trust from potential clients that have led to partnerships later on, hence, a direct benefit through increased sales as well as the indirect benefits; name recognition and goodwill.
There is a plethora of cultural backgrounds at the office at Defensive IT Solutions. From the scope of organizational theory on cultural diversity it is an advantage for Defensive IT Solutions, as they benefit from the different perspectives that such organizational culture creates. It also becomes an advantage in attracting and retaining the best talent, as it widens the labor pool. Furthermore, a multicultural organization is better suited to serve a diverse client base, as Defensive IT Solutions expand their market across borders.
The reason behind their cultural diversity is highly coincidental, according to Melanie:
“It hasn’t been a conscious choice to have a very culturally diverse team, but we have, as an example, 4 Italian employees. The first one we hired, who’s responsible for one of our departments, had a really competent hacker in his network, who happened to be from Italy as well. One of our graphic designers is from Spain and in specialized services we have a person from Peru, again because an employee had them in their network. So, it really comes from us at Defensive IT Solutions asking our employees if they have anyone in their network they would recommend. And it works really well, having such a diverse work culture.”
In addition, hiring the right people also means that there has to be a cultural match between Defensive IT Solutions and their employees. There is a focus on the value of integrity and honesty, taking pride in their work, and therefore also knowing the limitations of their capabilities.
“We say it as it is. We had a potential client who would have been a huge project for us, but after evaluating their business, we saw that they weren’t ready for what they were asking for – and we told them that. They were grateful for the honesty, and we ended up consulting them towards what they were aiming for, instead of implementing it too early.”
With their current success on the Danish market, Defensive IT Solutions have their eyes on the rest of the Nordics. They have decided on the market they want to focus on and are looking to expand in 2023.
“We see a need, specifically in the mid-market. Often, they have one IT person with plenty of tasks already. We have experienced that customers want to externalize some of that responsibility to a partner they can trust to have their best interests in mind.”
In order to focus on what is most important for Defensive IT Solutions, it could be valuable to outsource parts of the expansion process. At Adaptik, we have experience on both the Norwegian and Swedish markets and have specialized ourselves in the presales process for multiple clients.
The groundwork of an expansion can be done by a partner that understands and shares your values. It lets you focus on the complexity of the job - likely what you find most interesting - and leaves room for reflection on the more intricate parts of the sales process, while granting you valuable insights on the new market from a trusted partner.