Your sales team is one of the most powerful tools you have to get the word out about your cybersecurity assessment. A-LIGN’s SVP of Marketing, Brian Gladstein, describes how to arm them with your audit report and teach them how to use it so they can win more frequently and close more deals.
In this post, I’ll continue to explore ways of getting the word out about your cybersecurity assessment – SOC 2, ISO 27001, HITRUST, FedRAMP, or any of the others – once that report has been delivered. Third-party cybersecurity assurance is fundamental in ensuring that businesses can trust each other when it comes to sensitive data or private information. So if you aren’t including your final report as part of your sales and marketing efforts, it’s almost as if you never completed it in the first place.
So far we’ve talked about announcing your assessment with a press release and featuring your audit report on your website. Those are both very important steps, but they don’t necessarily deliver your report to a prospect at exactly the time it’s needed – nor are they able to relate the audit to the specific nature of the business partner sitting across the table from you. For that, you need to turn to one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal – your sales team.
Your sellers are on the phone and in email, having one-on-one conversations with customers every day. They shape the discussion and frame the competition. They provide compelling answers to specific questions with finesse. If your cybersecurity assessment is a weapon, your sales team is the army that can most effectively wield it.
Don’t “Throw It Over the Wall”
Sales people are generally creatures of habit. They look for signals of success in the relationships they maintain and rely on proven patterns to drive opportunities forward and ultimately close deals. That can make it difficult to introduce something new to your sales team, especially if they don’t instinctively know how to use it and where it fits.
I’ve spent most of my career as a marketer working closely with sales, and I’ve learned over and over again (sometimes painfully) that the best way to ensure your new materials are ignored is to “throw it over the wall” to sales. So don’t do that.
Instead, you need to work hand-in-hand with your counterparts in sales. Understand the process they go through and how they use various tools at their disposal to overcome challenges and objections. What you will likely find is that there are a few places where your assessment can easily fit into their process. I’ll get into the most likely candidates below – but the point is that by understanding their needs, and fitting into their workflow, you can make it easy for them.
Work With Sellers to Understand What They Need
In most sales teams you’ll find a few individuals who love to experiment and try new things. It can be hard to change the behavior of a full team, but if you lock arms with these scrappy sellers and get a couple successful examples under your belt, the rest of the team will look to duplicate those patterns and it’ll make adoption much easier.
Generally, it won’t be difficult to figure out who these team members are – just ask around. Once you do, grab some time with them, explain how a cybersecurity assessment can be used to put your competition at a disadvantage, and explore how they might use the report. Here are some questions to ask:
- Do customers ever require us to fill out a security questionnaire?
- When in the sales process do we normally position our technical strengths?
- At a typical customer, what roles care about security the most?
- Which competitors haven’t gone through their audit process – and how do we use our report against them?
Build Your Sales Enablement Plan and Materials
A productive conversation with those key sales reps should help you put together everything you need for enabling the rest of the team, including:
- Specific language that describes the report and its benefits that the sales team can use in emails, messages, and phone calls
- Where in the sales process a rep would most likely introduce the report
- An understanding of why the sales rep will benefit – for example, closing deals faster or winning more against a key competitor
From there, you’ll want to prepare your materials. The following items are a good example of what you might need, but obviously your plan will depend on the specific needs of your organization.
Messaging & Sales Tool: Capture all the relevant information into a single tool that sales can use. Include messaging that articulates how reps should describe the report, as well as ways to handle questions or objections that may come up. Include links to where they can download the report when needed, and your own contact information for when they need additional help.
Presentation Slide: Most sales teams have a standard presentation deck they use when meeting with customers. Prepare a slide to include in the presentation that displays your report and includes high-level information about the nature of the report and who your independent auditor is. Be sure to articulate the benefits to the customer – materials like this should always speak directly to what the customer cares about.
Sales Process: Help your sales team understand when and how to introduce your audit report by incorporating appropriate steps into their sales process. It’s not a bad idea to describe this in the sales tool you create (above). Most sales teams manage their process through a CRM that allows reps to access documents and trigger processes they need at exactly the right time on a customer-by-customer basis. If you have a Sales Operations team they should be able to help here.
Proposal Template: Finally, include a reference to your audit report in your standard proposal template. This single document tends to be the culmination of all your strong selling points combined with the actual financial proposal that goes out to the customer. It’s a great place to provide a succinct statement on how you take your customers’ security seriously.
Train the Team and Roll It Out
Take a few minutes in a weekly sales call to train the team. Show them where all the resources are, walk through the messaging and the process, and ask that pioneering sales rep who helped you understand the dynamics of the organization in the first place to help bridge the gap.
Once the team has been trained, check in with them every so often to see how it’s going. Make adjustments where needed and celebrate any wins in a public way to reinforce the value that your cybersecurity assessment provides.
Working with sales teams and playing a role in winning business can be exhilarating. I always love talking about this, and any other aspect of marketing your audit report. Contact us if you’d like to chat more!