Sales is difficult enough in the best of times. You need to learn your product or service, cull through leads and locate prospects, deliver your best sales presentation and follow up until, hopefully, you get a sale. The sales cycle can take as little as a few days to multiple months depending on your product or service and your industry.
Anything that slows down your sales cycle slows down the revenue flowing into your company, so you do everything within your control to keep your sales cycles as short as possible. But today you are faced with a major issue that is outside your control—a substantial economic slowdown verging on recession.
Over two-thirds of survey respondents in 2020 reported that due to the global slowdown the B2B sales cycle has increased and one in five reported that the number of decision-makers has also grown. Yet most sales organizations aren’t prepared for a slowdown or recession. Only 43% of sales organizations develop plans for a recession well in advance of it.
But there is something you can do about it.
Cybersecurity as a Sales Cycle Accelerator
Often companies try making tactical adjustments to try to accelerate the sales cycle, such as focusing on particular channels, scoring and prioritizing leads more aggressively, leveraging new marketing tools and asking better questions in presales activities. But what is being overlooked is that your cybersecurity posture, and what you do with it, can be a true sales accelerator.
With security breaches occurring on an almost daily basis, it’s never been more important to keep your data and infrastructure safe. That’s obvious. But what about your customers? They want to know that they are dealing with a company that is implementing strong cybersecurity measures before they commit to doing business with you. They want to know how dealing with you might affect their data, systems, and operations.
So any hint of a cybersecurity problem or soft spot in your organization needs to be addressed. For example, 65% of companies worldwide report significant sales cycle delays, averaging 7.8 weeks, due to data privacy concerns. It is not uncommon for a sales process to slow or even grind to a halt when you go through the lengthy process of proving your security posture to your customer.
Why not be proactive and use cybersecurity as a sales tool? If you can demonstrate to your prospects that you have a strong cybersecurity posture, you may be able to circumvent the need to devote time and resources to prove it during the sales process. If you are prepared and have all certifications, attestations, and pre-filled questionnaires, you’ll be able to assure your customers and remove the issue of security as a stumbling block up front.
Don’t Forget Your Third Parties
In proving your cybersecurity posture to your prospects, don’t forget to include your third parties. Every third party you have contact with to do business – IT services, business partners, vendors, service providers, etc. – represents a potential entry point into your systems and premises.
CBI Insight reported that 44% of data breaches are caused by a third party. A security breach in any of your third parties immediately puts you at risk as well. And your customers may not see much of a distinction between you and your third party. So you need to ensure that your third parties are taking the right steps to secure their operations from attack.