As a newcomer within the cybersecurity industry, having joined ActZero just over eight months ago, there have been many learning opportunities to come my way. One of the biggest lessons when selling technology is learning how to talk to your prospects, and gearing the conversation towards what is important to a prospective buyer.
In talking to CIOs virtually every day, I have gotten to know their main concerns fairly well, and what seems most compelling to them when it comes to evaluating a cybersecurity service. I have noticed that oftentimes I do not need to get overly technical with fancy features we can supply, but focus instead on the outcomes our MDR service can provide to their organization - to innovatively better their current processes.
Of course, having amazing product features to offer businesses is a crucial part of the selling process. There would be no selling if there wasn’t any value to be sold. And we have built a pretty great service. Our MDR service provides an enterprise-grade tech stack and expert threat hunters to proactively detect and respond to threats on your behalf, 24/7, using both human and machine learning, to continually improve your security posture. But, as I have learned from many conversations with heads of IT, all these great features don’t mean much if it isn’t something that resonates with the buyer. Your product and service must be a solution to a problem the organization faces, or something that makes their day-to-day work life considerably easier.
One of the most important lessons my Head of Sales taught me was distinguishing the difference between two buying situations - a leaky roof, or a kitchen renovation. This scenario describes how your prospect sees the product you are selling. If you strive to simply sell features, they are going to see it as a ‘kitchen renovation’ - something that is nice to have, but won’t be an urgent need to purchase.
A leaky roof scenario describes a situation where there is an identifiable area of improvement that must be fixed, and with an outcome we can deliver (like proactive 24/7 threat responses). If you take the time to really understand a CIO’s needs and focus on the outcomes that can be achieved, you can show their leaky roof scenario, even if their leaky roof wasn’t apparent to them prior to that cold outreach to talk about ActZero MDR.
In order to be able to focus your conversation on outcomes with a CIO, or any prospective customer for that matter, I have found that I must first understand their needs. I ask questions, and figure out where there are gaps in their current process or a potential for improvement. There sometimes can be a very apparent outcome the CIO is after. When I spoke with a CIO of a hardware retail company, let’s call him Mr. Hardware, I discovered he was unhappy with his current MDR provider who claimed to respond to threats on their behalf, but fell short of this when they conducted a penetration test. He was looking for a more proactive approach. Sometimes the outcome isn’t so straightforward or directly in the CIO’s mind - You need to ask more questions to help them find what outcomes they care most about when it comes to their security posture. Also, you won’t always be able to shed light on a desired outcome because the customer’s desired state doesn’t fit within your deliverable outcomes… and that is okay, too. Identifying where there’s not a good fit (right now) can be just as important as suspecting that there is one.
Once you have identified the desired outcome, construct a story of how you can link their present situation to their desired outcome. For Mr. Hardware, it was most important to focus on how our MDR platform provides a 24/7 proactive response to any potential threats within his environment.
The most common outcomes I have heard in my conversation with CIOs typically seem to fall within four main categories: saving money, saving time, peace of mind, and having quick incident response time.
Saving money, decreasing potential downtime and reducing money lost during a breach are often crucial outcomes for an organization when evaluating a new service. I have found that many small- to medium-sized companies have limited money to spend on cybersecurity efforts, so ensuring that I am transparent on how we can achieve these all desired outcomes, while maintaining a low cost, is critical.
Within the SMB market particularly, IT teams are often at maximum capacity when it comes to their workload. One CIO within the education field told me there often are “not enough hours in the week”… “if anything happened that needs extra attention, like a security breach, it means working many, many unpaid overtime hours, or neglecting all other projects until things are resolved”. Being able to demonstrate how our cyber experts will manage the monitoring, detection, and response to a threat at any hour of the day not only saves the customer time to focus on other projects, but also their peace of mind to know that they can be protected while their focus is elsewhere - like when they go home at night, over the weekend, or during the holidays. No matter what, our focus remains on securing their environment.
Focusing and delivering on the desired outcomes of your customer is paramount - you need to put the prospective client’s vision above all else in order to drive a good relationship with them. Myself, and the ActZero team, strive to continually help CIOs and their organizations deliver on their desired security outcomes.
If you are an outcome-focused IT leader looking to continually improve your security posture, check out our website for more information on how we can help you achieve your desired state. Or book a meeting with me to learn more about the outcomes our MDR service can provide your organization.