IT vs. Sales - Turning Cybersecurity Into a Revenue Center

May 6, 2019 | BY Armistead Whitney

Overview

Through my many conversations with CIOs, CISOs, and IT professionals, the role cybersecurity plays in the sales process comes up almost every time.   

I can identify.  While I was CEO of a SaaS company a few years ago, we negotiated a contract with a large Fortune 1000 company. They loved our product.  Negotiations flowed smoothly for several weeks as we headed towards an agreed-upon close date. With two weeks to go, our buyer threw us the curveball – they wanted a full review of our cybersecurity program. They sent us a 200 question questionnaire. They demanded several due diligence phone calls with our CTO. Back and forth we went for two weeks, three weeks, then four weeks. Each time they asked for more and more information. We missed our close date, which was not fun relaying to our Board.  We learned a valuable lesson - we didn't lead with security. Meaning, we didn’t proactively promote our great security program early enough in the sales process. We were reactive and it was painful. We ended up closing the customer to a contract - six weeks after we thought we would.  In today’s world of threats, 360 degree vendor auditing and 200 question questionnaires IT teams should help sales lead with security, not hide behind it. And cybersecurity automation can help save the day.

Why So Much Friction Between IT and Sales?

The friction between technology teams and sales teams is real, if not sometimes borderline humorous.  

Many companies physically separate sales and IT on purpose – so sales won’t tell engineering what they just heard on their last call about their organization’s products. And IT teams don’t want to hear a sales rep on the phone all day incorrectly articulating their technology. So apart they sit – physically and emotionally – until there is a uniting cause: closing that big sale. This is where it gets interesting. CEOs want the big deal to close ‘no matter what’ so it usually goes something like this: the sales rep contacts IT at 4pm on a Thursday and says “just take care of this cybersecurity stuff they are asking about” and “hey – I just got this security questionnaire and I have no idea what it is, so can you take care of it - and, oh, this must be completed by tomorrow so we can close this big deal.”

Drop Everything You’re Doing IT – We Need to Close This Deal!

So the fun begins – you’re pulling old reports, going through questionnaires, scouring Excel and Word docs, sending requests to HR, legal, finance and others for their information. Waiting for them to get back to you. Assembling reports. Telling the sales rep to back off a bit, you’re working on it. Getting on due diligence calls and answering the same security questions again and again.  And this is just one deal. If your company is growing, you’re doing this dozens of times a month. There is another way.

The New Way – Partnering with Sales Through Cybersecurity Automation

IT and sales have the same goals – to build and sell great products and services, create happy customers, and invest in innovation. Yet, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way IT and sales engage to respond to the growing scrutiny, time and effort in cybersecurity due diligence. Imagine being able to report your security program in real-time.  In in one click.  Mapped to established industry frameworks and best practices. Imagine showing your organization’s end-to-end security posture while addressing most of the questions found in due diligence questionnaires. Imagine creating a standard report for your sales organization to send early in the sales process selling the strengths of your security program better than the competition. Imagine telling your Board how much new business you impacted by leading with security. This is here today – with cybersecurity automation by Apptega. Apptega delivers dashboards and reporting for every type of request - from full program reports and customized reports, to PowerPoint summaries for Board meetings.  With Apptega you can create any type of report in one click down to the subcontrol level the way you want – even a report just for sales. The next time you’re facing due diligence drama, remember the Apptega cavalry can help – our reporting automation will bring the love back between IT and sales.

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