Inside Realnets Partnership With Kisi

By Ashley Davis
February 20, 2020

Realnets, a Chicago-based technology solutions firm has been selling Kisi for several years. With over 20 years of experience in IT consulting, Realnets has experienced every industry and technological challenge that businesses face, and is constantly adopting innovative solutions to offer their clients. We sat down with Andy Gibbs, a senior account executive at Realnets, to discover how the journey has been in selling Kisi to a wide range of customers.

Why did you decide to start selling Kisi through your company?

We actually stumbled into it! One of our development clients wanted to bring us in to evaluate their existing security solution, and find out how they could work smarter and be more centralized. The installer that he was using couldn't figure Kisi out. We immediately thought of Kisi! So without ever working with the system before, we were able to get their Kisi system up and running with strong IT knowledge and the ability to read very clear directions provided by Kisi for MSPs. 

Most of our IT clients are really compliance-driven. So having a solution that can integrate with active directory, that fits into our realm of being cloud-based and IT-based was really neat for us, so we just did more training and started from there. 

How big is your team and how did you onboard them?

Our team now consists of about 8 technicians and 5 engineers. I trained them quickly, and everyone in the company is now familiar with the Kisi system. We have our own voltage installer, so even our entry-level personnel can program Kisi; they can do all the edits and all the configuration. And then our separate installer can do all the wiring. Now that we have a standard flow with everything and an internal quote template that we use, our statements of work are all consistent. 

So then you would just work with them on a case-by-case basis and try to make a tailored solution?

Yes, and we have other solutions we sell on the access control side. Kisi fits into our MSP program as they relate to our managed services offering at large, but we install all sorts of access control. But when I'm talking to a customer about managed services and building security, it's always leading with Kisi because our managed services has a monthly offering built into it. Sometimes if it's the right opportunity, we'll do door access as a service where we're subsidizing all the Kisi stuff over a five-year contract and show customers how they can simply pay the monthly software cost, and they get an excellent access control system for their facility.

 We have also started conversations with commercial clients that have many doors with incoming tenants, and we pitch Kisi such that these clients can offer a centrally managed key system to their tenants as an access-as-a-service solution. 

Do you have specific literature to help your customers learn about various products? Based on your experience, how can Kisi  help resellers to sell more easily?

Kisi has great documentation! On our website, we have a little Kisi blurb to introduce the solution. I take the larger conversation from access control to, “How are you trying to secure your space?”, and then work backwards from there to a solution, eventually pointing customers to Kisi. Often times customers have this idea of what they think they need, but they don't really understand how some of these solutions work. 

The hardest part of my job is educating the customer on what they really want. It’s tricky now that other solutions are trying to catch up with the software model. Right now we sell Kisi mainly for clients with commercial usage. Clients are starting to understand that beyond the hardware aspect of a lock, there's also a software aspect now - that's adding a lot of value. Kisi was one of the earliest solutions to provide a software model.

Part of what has already been addressed by your team is bulk pricing. That definitely helps us be more competitive on the software side.

Is there a specific customer that enjoys using Kisi?

Yes, one of the commercial customers that we're working on for the door access-as-a-service offering - he’s actually the one that pointed us to Kisi - really enjoys it for the ability to create sub-places within his space. In this case, his ownership can run the entire space, but then he can also delegate to his staff and say, “Hey, these locks are for the ninth floor, and whoever the office admin is can get access and get things rolled out.” With this, we can control the access of all the vendors that are going in and out of the space.

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Could you elaborate on how other technologies (like Cisco Meraki and HP) run their resellers program in comparison to Kisi? Is it that Kisi is an easy solution for your customers, or being able to get on the phone and augment the way that you guys do things? What's the sell for you?

Kisi really fits into our mold of being a forward-facing solution. The big speech on our end to customers is, “Look, you're paying the software cost for a month, and you're getting all of this centralization and audit trail, all without having to set up a VPN or remote access with a static IP in a traditional sense.” It's also the knowledge that Kis is constantly working on the platform and on new features. When you buy a traditional door access control system, the platform will be the same today as it is in 10-15 years. What would help is being able to loop in a customer as a partner, so that they get a quarterly product roadmap. When you're selling these recurring costs, it's all about value. When customers think of Kisi as  something that is just going to open their doors, Kisi loses to 90% of the other competitors who will do it for a fixed cost just the same. 

So being able to say a camera integration is coming, or a more secure single sign on, or Windows active directory integration is coming really helps us engage our customers. We get a decent following on our website and blog, where customers can learn how Kisi is releasing new integrations, - but it will help to have somebody that I could just point to, just to let people know that those dollars are going to more than the features they're getting. 

Since Realnets uses Solarwinds for remote management monitoring software, how would it change your day-to-day, if there were an integration between that and Kisi? 

It would be great because we could incorporate it more into our system. It's hard to incorporate into our managed service offering, but if we can get an alert from a Kisi reader being down, that will be great. We have a lot of footholds in Solarwinds that point out if a port is offline for a certain amount of time - all these little things that we could essentially just adopt into Kisi. 

We also have a software that grabs those alerts and then dispatches them out based on resource and response time needed. So obviously when a Kisi reader or controller is down, it's always an emergency, but a typical building services customer doesn't have monthly engagement with us. So we turn a one-time project into a small monthly check-in while monitoring our stuff. If we get an alert, it's a good call-to-action to be able to sell other services onsite. If I get an alert on Saturday from Kisi through my ticketing system, I can email my customer from that ticket.

And would you say most resellers are using Solarwinds?

It's all over the place. Your installers are probably a mixed bag of people like us who are very tech-focused and really enjoy the software side, and then people who are very analog and are still just installing security systems. I would imagine at least some don't even have any aspect of ticketing and help desk within their business offering. But the ones that do are probably on Solarwinds. I think most MSPs would appreciate a Kisi + Solarwinds integration if they have their alerting set up correctly, in order to show a Kisi alert in their ticketing system, whether directly or through their RMM. 

Did you choose to sell Cisco Meraki cameras for a specific reason?

Cisco Meraki is just one of the examples. We also sell HighQ vision OEM. We're looking at Access and another American-made brand.

Is there anything else that Kisi can improve in or any type of resources that our marketing team could make? We're open to hearing any feedback you have.

Being able to engage customers on the new features and further push the value of the software is really the only gap I see - keeping up with educating the marketplace. It's on us to educate the market on these value-driven features, and pushing the idea that your traditional contractor is only doing half the job to fulfill your installation needs. 

Ashley Davis

Ashley is obsessed with words, Chinese food and all things tech.