Cybersecurity is not the most glamorous career or, at least, not glamorous enough to fill all available vacancies. Selling cybersecurity is no different. Even those reps that are successful in cybersecurity sales need up-skilling and often leave for better conditions elsewhere. Companies are losing potential revenue and facing rising costs in new recruitment. That a certain type of salesman is better suited to cybersecurity is beyond doubt: where to find them is an enigma.
There are common traits that all hiring managers look for: vertical experience in similar positions for equally-sized firms, knowledge of the region and tier, proven wins from previous projects and ability to build personal ties. But there is one special element in the mix: that particular ‘fit’ to the corporate identity and to individual teams.
What is so particular in selling and purchasing cybersecurity?
If you compare the purchase of cybersecurity with, say, CRM, some steps are the same but others most certainly not. Both are IT department purchases, both to a C-suite exec but, whereas CRM will yield you such and such savings from just as predictable sources, cybersecurity spurns that predictability. The costs and savings of cybersecurity are in constant shift. You can look at case studies of companies similar to your own to receive a fair idea of cost-savings from CRM but with cybersecurity, you just can’t.
New technologies, software, network devices and setups all make assessing the risk from threats close to impossible. Any firm has only so many resources, including budget, to allocate to cybersecurity. Hedging all your bets on one point of entry is only as secure as that one point remains, including still being a limited resource. What if you’re attacked from behind that one point or just more comprehensively than all of your defenses? What if you don’t move that one point before some new form of attack gets around it?
Let’s look at how these dangers reflect on what makes a good rep?
The good reps will lap up that uncertainty. They understand that uncertainty is at the core of the problem and play the game. They adapt their sell for every single meeting: the pitch, the customer, the scenarios … and they expect to meet situations that they’ve never seen before, that they’re not prepared for and proactively create new solutions. Mayhem is in their sales-DNA.
Should you train new hires to be more resistant to uncertainty or look for aptitude in candidates?
Since resources are always stretched, I suggest the latter. You’ll want to gauge candidates at interview for their suitability for the position, the team, the company, career aspirations but you will also want to gauge their love of uncertainty. Do they take risks? How often? How severe? How many at once? How do they cope with failures – what do they do, how fast, how confidently? How do they react to life changes? Do they precipitate such changes? … As you see, the list runs on!
Is it enough just to hire based on proven results to date? Well, you may think so but other factors may account for those successes: high-quality leads, accounts ripened by others, one or a few large, established customers… Are you after an opportunity-detector? Keep in mind that good cybersecurity sales reps are thin on the ground, so most likely you will have to take a sales rep from another industry.
If that is the case, see what’s better; trainability in all necessary aspects of cybersecurity and selling it or the possession of inborn sales abilities relevant to cybersecurity.