It’s time to rethink how we market and sell security products

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Written by Eoin HinchyCo-founder & CEO, Tines

With changing technology, evolving security threats, and the vast number of vendors out there, companies intent on successfully selling their products need new approaches. At the end of the day, it isn’t about convincing someone to buy your product whether they need it or not, but ensuring that your product is the right fit for them and that it will solve their problems—some of which they probably don’t realize they have.

As organizations seek better ways to protect against attacks, let’s seek better ways to improve the cybersecurity community as well. Here’s a primer on how to shift your security product sales approach to actually be a benefit for your customer.

Out with the old approach to selling and marketing security tools 

Over the years, security vendors have adopted an enterprise sales-focused strategy of targeting CISOs and security decision-makers and convincing them that their product is the next best thing that they’d be lost without. However, this approach tends to circle around several themes that don’t necessarily convert:

• FUD: Too often, vendors use fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to sell their security products, saying that “If you don’t implement this platform or feature, you will get breached.” Considering that even one worst-case scenario event could greatly impact a company—the average cost of a data breach is around $3.86 million—this approach is still quite effective. But it results in a panic purchase that may not be the right fit for the organization.

• Jargon: Vendors want to look smart and capable to the teams they’re selling to, and so may up the jargon in their sales approach, filling their pitches with acronyms and technical language. While this may make vendors sound like they’re on the cutting edge of security technology and truly understand a customer’s business needs, they may just be throwing around language with nothing behind it.

• Tell, don’t show: Finally, many vendors want to tell their customers a lot about their product but are hesitant to show it to them, knowing that it isn’t as robust, as flexible, or as accessible as they can make it out to be. This crops up in “book a demo” sales gates and a lack of screenshots or product videos and can even extend to a lack of transparency around pricing, support, and other essentials.

A better way to sell and market security tools 

What’s the alternative? The modern way of selling is a bottoms-up approach through product-led growth. Not only can you tout your product and its features first, but you can also ensure that your product is actually filling their needs.

• Product-first: Companies that take a product-first approach do just that: they showcase their product to the world. They’re proud of what they’ve built and know that it can solve a customer’s problems. As such, they’re going to show it off as much as they can and encourage potential customers to see and use the product—not just talk it up.

• Inclusive: Too much jargon or technical language may not make you seem like an expert and may just trigger alarm bells for those who can’t keep up. A better way to connect with a future customer is to use simple, clear, and friendly language that includes both technical and non-technical users.

• Aggressively refine: A good company shouldn’t stay stagnant in its offerings and should continue to evolve and grow its products. We’re constantly adding new features and capabilities based on customer feedback and our own ideas. But we also say “no” frequently as well, and love to replace and remove features that aren’t serving customers as well as they should. Prioritize creating a more perfect product in the long term rather than closing a deal in the short term.

• Positive, human-centric marketing: Finally, reject FUD tactics, remember your customers are people and tell them a better, more optimistic story rather than one based on fear. What problems can your product solve for them? What benefits can those solutions bring? If your product is saving them time, what can they do with that new-found time? Positivity is always a better motivator than panic.

Benefits of taking this approach 

For companies that take a product-led growth approach, the cumulative market capitalization has increased more than one hundred-fold since 2016. But in looking beyond just sales, companies that adopt a positive, product-first approach can open themselves up to the following benefits as well.

• Follow broader trends: The usability of security products has lagged behind products for other business functions, but they can catch up. Rising companies that serve enterprise needs in areas like marketing and HR have vastly more user-friendly products with consumer-level design, engineering, and product-led growth strategies. Why shouldn’t security? The companies that succeed in security in the long term should exhibit these consumer-like qualities and standards in how their software is built and adopted.

• Build for the long term: Word of mouth is powerful in the security industry. Using FUD to sell products and hiding bad products behind fake claims and jargon can certainly land deals in the short term, but eventually, your customers will see through snake-oil salesman tactics, discover that your product isn’t really helping them, go elsewhere, and vent about their negative experience to their peers. By resisting these tactics and taking a product-first approach, you can create more enduring products and a company positioned for growth.

• Increased TAM and growth: Finally, inclusivity in product design and marketing can naturally grow the market, as seen above, as well as prospective companies, users within those companies, and use cases. Also, by making security software easier to use and more generally appealing, you can leverage that credibility and trust to unlock opportunities in adjacent teams, beginners, students, etc.

In with the new 

The old approaches to selling security products are stagnating, damaging, and not really moving the needle anymore. It’s time to take a new approach to selling security software by focusing on making a great product, showcasing that great product, and meeting customer needs.

If you're interested in learning more, hear directly from Tines customers! Discover how companies, including R3, Canva, Sophos, and KnowBe4, are using our no-code automation platform to transform their security operations and increase their impact.

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