How to Navigate the Vendor Assessment Process So Sales Can Close Deals Faster

September 08, 2021

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to accelerate their digital adoption strategy to help support a remote work environment for their employees and online interactions for their customers. This resulted in a spike in SaaS software sales that will only continue to grow in the coming years. Research by Google shows that cloud sales will triple by 2025 to $760B.

This uptick in SaaS adoption is having a significant impact on cloud vendors. Virtually every sale they make requires them to respond to a security questionnaire. Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to respond to all of the requests, but if you make a few tweaks to your process highlighted in this section, you will save a significant amount of time for your InfoSec team while helping your sales team close deals faster. 

 

Have clearly defined owners with clearly defined roles

Because security is involved in virtually every business-to-business transaction, it’s important that you have all your ducks in a row. Having multiple functional groups, including sales and infosec responding questionnaires might seem like the right idea, but having too many cooks in the kitchen can ultimately slow down the process.

That’s why Gartner suggests that determining clear roles and responsibilities should be the first step in businesses take when building out your questionnaire response strategy—even more important than the technology you select to support your efforts. 

The key is to collaborate and share information across the organization and make sure everyone knows what their responsibility is. Empowering sales to respond to portions of the questionnaires they know the answers to or share security profile early in the sales process is a good place to start, but if each team doesn’t know what their role is, it could cause the sales process to grind to a halt.

 

Consolidate your documentation in one place

Next, you’ll want to collect all of your relevant security documentation, including questionnaires, certifications, audits, policies and other documentation (basically everything your customers need to assess your business) and package it together so it’s easier for your customers to review.

Fortunately, this is a growing trend and there are now a few solutions out there that can help you do this (including Whistic). Having all of your information in one place eases the burden on the InfoSec team and simplifies the assessment process for your customers.

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Standout with Standards

There’s a reason why standard questionnaires, like CAIQ, SIG, NIST 800-53 and VSA, are so popular. It’s because they work. The questions and controls contained in them have been vetted by industry experts and are used by hundreds of thousands of businesses. That’s why vendors should proactively conduct self assessments using the most relevant questionnaires to the verticals they serve. 

This will ensure that you are prepared to respond quickly when you receive a request from one of their customers—or even better, they can publish their security documentation publicly or share it with customers proactively before the request even comes in.

 

Provide on-demand access to security documentation

One place you can publish your security documentation is to data exchanges or marketplaces frequented by your customers. This makes it easy for customers and prospects to access your information in an environment that you control and helps them make informed decisions about whether or not your solution will fit well in their environment from a security standpoint.

Another good place to publish security documentation is on the security page of your website. Doing so puts the burden on your customer to request access and review your information and allows your InfoSec team to focus on more strategic initiatives related to the security of your business.

 

Empower your sales team

In addition to publishing your security documentation to data exchanges and marketplaces and posting it on your website, you should also make it possible for your sales team to easily share that with customers. When this is done early in the sales process, it helps to build trust with customers and prospects and sets you apart from the competition. 

Your business can have the best documentation in the world, but if sharing it causes a disruption in the sales process, they’ll only share it if they absolutely have to. Fortunately, tools like Whistic make this simple and easy because they’re integrated with Salesforce, which enables sales teams to share security documentation directly from a Salesforce record. 

 

Finding the right technology solution

In the past, InfoSec teams have had to deal with cobbled together systems where their security documentation was spread across multiple applications, which made it difficult to efficiently respond to security questionnaires or proactively share your profile. A good solution will help you consolidate all of the information and security documentation needed to build a detailed security profile and share it with prospects proactively before questionnaire requests even come in..

Additionally, the tool you choose should be built with collaboration. A collaborative tool breaks down silos that may have previously existed and enables your profile to be shared across the whole organization, ensuring that everyone is aware of the status of profiles after they’re shared and whether or not your customer has viewed it.

 

Don't be afraid to ask for help

If you don’t have experience responding to questionnaires or if your team is understaffed, there is a wide range of consultants available to help. Their services range from helping you define and set up your program all the way to groups that will manage the program end-to-end.

 

How Whistic can help

Whistic is the best way to assess, publish, and share vendor security information. Automate vendor assessments, share security documentation, and create trusted connections—all from the Whistic Vendor Security Network. To learn more about how to build a vendor security process that helps your sales teams close deals faster, check out our latest ebook.

 

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Whistic
Whistic

The latest insights and updates on information security and third party risk management.

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