4 Tips for Selling Security
Selling security solutions is a uniquely challenging endeavor for many technology partners. The market is vast and in many ways oversaturated, not to mention that the types of problems these solutions aim to solve are complex and multifaceted. As someone who has spent more than a decade in security sales, I’ve found that the following tips can help:
1. Know the market. Many partners assume security selling is similar to information technology (IT) selling, but it is not. IT solutions are about enablement and growth, whereas security solutions are more about protection. This difference also translates to buyers’ mindsets and motivations. While IT buyers might be drawn to how a given solution helps increase productivity or reduces customer-acquisition costs, security buyers are motivated by the critical need to safeguard their assets from active threats.
It’s also important to recognize that the security market is informally divided into two categories: standard solutions and disruptive technologies. Standard solutions are more familiar because they have been around for years and are widely adopted, such as firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs). Disruptive technologies, meanwhile, are designed to reflect the dynamic nature of the threats, adversaries and resulting security challenges organizations face. These offerings and the problems they aim to solve tend to evolve quickly, which in turn can create a steep learning curve for sales teams.
2. Embrace the inch-wide, mile-deep approach. For partners seeking to break into security selling, I’d recommend choosing a select few solutions to represent in the standard and disruptive categories, and then get to know them thoroughly. Regardless of the offering, it’s absolutely crucial to understand 1) the problem it’s designed to solve, and 2) how it solves that problem. This is why training sessions, market and industry research, and product demos are essential — and should occur regularly.
For disruptive technologies in particular, partners should also seek to maintain alignment with product and support teams in order to stay informed of new updates, features, value propositions and road maps. Keep in mind that security selling is solution-oriented, so if you don’t understand the full extent of the prospective customer’s problem and/or how a given solution can help solve their problem, you’re going to have a hard time making a sale.
3. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. The security market, as I mentioned, is oversaturated, noisy, and opaque in many areas. Buyers can easily feel overwhelmed by the seemingly countless and poorly differentiated options. And because no security team has limitless resources, the often substantial price tags of many such options can pose a barrier to a sale.
With this in mind, you should aim to serve as a trusted adviser to buyers. Get to know them, their business, their problem, and what they’re looking for in a security solution. You should also seek to understand how their security program operates and what technologies it relies on. If a suitable solution is also able to integrate with a buyer’s existing technologies, it will enable them to reap an even greater benefit from an existing investment, which can help assuage budgetary concerns as well.
Validation that your solution has been deployed by customers with similar needs is also critical. As such, partners should come prepared with customer case studies, use cases and testimonials – especially ones that correspond to the buyer’s industry and/or problem set – to help them recognize that they are not alone and that feasible solutions do exist for problems such as theirs.
4. Recognize that the sales pitch is changing. As disruptive technologies continue to emerge and comprise more of the security market, the security sales pitch is evolving. For one, gap-analysis selling has become critical. With so many new technologies with groundbreaking capabilities, many buyers aren’t aware of the types of solutions they actually need. This is another reason why partners need to thoroughly understand a buyer’s problem, and what and how a solution can help solve it.
This abundance of disruptive technologies has also given rise to new, and sometimes confusing, marketing tactics. Many solutions are positioned as “security silver bullets,” even though achieving and maintaining security requires far more than just one seemingly perfect solution. Indeed, buyers are becoming more aware that regardless of how an offering is marketed, if a solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Partners that position any solution as such are likely to lose the buyer’s trust and sale very quickly.
It’s also important to recognize that many security marketing tactics often focus more on product functions and features and less on data and analysis that back up why a function or feature is worth the investment. Although buyers do care about the specific features, functions, and even aesthetics of a solution, more than anything else they want proof that it will work for them — and how. This is another reason why partners should come prepared with customer case studies and use cases, especially those supported by concrete data and analysis.
Brian Costello is senior vice president, global sales, solution architecture and professional services, at Flashpoint.