As a software company, you might be hyper-focused on how to unlock value for customers by making product adoption easy (we know we are). Even in the most forward-thinking, product-led models, there's a tendency to center our sales processes around our internal motions to qualify the buyer.
Whether you’re measuring your buyer's interest and engagement through marketing qualified leads (MQL), sales engagement (SAL), or product-based utilization (PQL), these benchmarks are missing a critical step in the buyer’s journey—determining whether or not they can even trust you.
SaaS organizations are under more pressure than ever before to make sure their product or platforms is protecting their customers’ data, which includes being hyper-vigilant about the tools they use to power their business. Whether you’re working with someone shopping for their first tool or an experienced software buyer, they need to know you can pass their security requirements in order to adopt your products.
You’re likely getting caught up in one of the following approaches that's missing the mark for you and your buyer:
You know the time and resources required of your technical team to go through customers’ security reviews, and it’s a tall order. So, you save addressing this until the end of your sales cycle, or hope it never comes up. We get why—it’s easier to justify going through these traditionally complex processes with an opportunity that is already qualified and aligned on solution, budget and timing.
Spoiler alert: this isn't ideal for you or your buyer.
They go through a long, drawn out process only to be delayed in the final stages by the requirements that matter to them most: security. While you’re spending your time selling product features to a business buyer and battling for vendor-of-choice, you’re missing the real buyer: their technical team. You could win the vendor-of-choice race all day, but the technical team has the power to make the call on the purchase based only on the maturity of your security program.
Introduce your security practices early and often in the sales cycle. Lean on trust as a competitive differentiator. Sell security as core part of the product to build customer confidence in your buyer to take your product to their tech team for review.
Product-led growth is a hot topic these days so your team is hard at work building experiences that prompt users to get to their “aha” moments as quickly as possible. Usually to do this, we ask users to import their data or integrate with your solution. This uncovers another problem—any experienced buyer knows they can’t share this information until your organization passes their security requirements. Your perfectly-planned self-serve process just quickly turned into an enterprise-grade sales experience, and now you’re back at approach number one.
Publish a dynamic trust center where customers can find the information they need in a self-serve way. Ideally this trust center can also drive leads to your team by capturing trust qualified leads who interact with various public or gated documentation, policies, or certification reports.
What if the real key to customer acquisition and adoption was actually leading with the buyers’ requirements to use us, not our requirements to qualify them? This requires a trust-led growth approach.
Trust-led growth (TLG) is a methodology in which user acquisition, expansion, and adoption are all driven by building and establishing trust throughout the customer journey.
Trust-led growth prioritizes the buyer’s requirements and creates a pathway to customer acquisition based off what they actually need to work with you—trust. So, what does it really look like to truly become trust-led?
Here are the seven ways we recommend to become truly trust-led:
You shouldn’t be surprised that B2B buyers are doing a majority of their research about you before they even talk to you. The more information you make available upfront, the more you demonstrate your commitment to trust and transparency. This builds deeper confidence in customers, longer-term relationships, and less questions your technical team will need to be pulled into to answer.
Most sales people shy away from talking about security in the sales cycle, and we get why... it’s traditionally messy, complex and are legal ramifications for getting the answers wrong. But imagine if instead of avoiding the conversation, they were equipped with information directly from security and legal to educate your buyer on how to purchase and adopt your product as quickly as possible? By proactively leading with trust early, you build customer confidence and invite more stakeholders to the table sooner—quickly establishing yourself as the expert in your space. By doing so, you truly can turn security from a hurdle into a competitive advantage.
Building trust doesn’t happen as soon as you close your security review. It takes nurturing and a commitment to demonstrate over time & at key points of your customer journey that your claims are credible. This is why it’s time to stop thinking about security as a sales-cycle step that only happens with prospects. Establishing customer confidence from the beginning means that when it’s time for a yearly review or audit, you’re maintaining a relationship you’ve already built rather than starting at square one.
Trust information is usually living in a few different places—most notably in the brains of your technical teams. In every interaction where InfoSec is discussed they’re responsible for communicating it directly to customers, or to your sales team.
This means that demonstrating your policies is happening one-off on a customer by customer basis. By having one source of truth for trust and security, you are empowering your internal team to confidently (and accurately) answer customer questions without needing to involve your team’s top technical minds.
You’ve put in the time and energy to build a security program that outlines the overall architecture of your platform, and it contains the most sensitive information about your company. Yet today, most teams are sharing this as an attachment in an email—the easiest (and most common) place for a cybersecurity attack.
Beyond being an insecure way to share this information, it can be unsettling for a buyer to receive your sensitive information in this way too. By utilizing a secure way to share with prospects and customers, you’re going one layer further to demonstrate your commitment to upholding security.
For most companies, the idea of doing more security reviews is daunting. But, if there were a more streamlined and automated way to engage with reviews that helped you actualize revenue, build confidence, and drive product adoption sooner, why shy away? If we know this is the most important part of the buying process, it’s time to find a way to encourage reviews at every point.
For being such a massive part of your buyers’ process, it’s sometimes shocking how little visibility we really have. In most cases, it’s InfoSec is a black box. We send off documentation to a customer and follow up multiple times to ask if the right person has even seen it. By providing visibility into who is accessing documents, viewing questionnaires, or the overall status of a review, we can pipe that information into the places we spend our time (Slack, CRMs, etc.) and stay up-to-date without the annoying “any update?” emails.
Establishing transparent security policies will speed up sales cycles, make happier buyers, and build a more trusted software ecosystem. Claiming your Trust Center is a great first step towards joining the movement of leading with Trust. It’s free—because we think all organizations should publish their security posture—and getting started takes minutes, not months.
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