Beyond the Pitch: Strategies for Successfully Selling to CISOs with Kenneth Foster

A Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) leads an extremely demanding role and is constantly bombarded with numerous sales pitches.

So having a great product alone does not guarantee that a CISO will buy it.

To increase your chances of success, it is essential to tailor your approach to meet their specific needs and interests.

But there is more to it, and this raises the question…

What are the best practices when selling to a CISO?To help us with this topic today, we have Kenneth Foster, VP of IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance at FLEETCOR

How can you reach out and prepare for a conversation with a CISO??

It’s important to approach CISOs with a collaborative mindset rather than a presumptuous one. Instead of claiming to know their problems and offering a “magic bullet” solution, take the time to develop a relationship and understand their unique security challenges.

One way to start is by reaching out to the CISO on LinkedIn and providing them with relevant information about your product or service. However, it’s important to avoid spamming them with follow-up messages, as this can come across as pushy and unprofessional.

Another effective strategy is to engage with someone on the CISO’s team and get them excited about your product. By building a relationship with key stakeholders and demonstrating the value of your solution, you can increase the chances of securing a meeting with the CISO and ultimately closing a deal.

“Don’t ever come to me and tell me you’ve got the magic bullet, you know what my problems are, and you’ve come to fix them for me. What you need to do is develop a relationship.”

Kenneth Foster, VP of IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance at FLEETCOR

If you’re a startup, keep this in mind

Sales cycles in larger corporations typically span between twelve to eighteen months. During this time, startups aim to build strong relationships with CISOs who are impressed with their products. However, it is not uncommon for the person they have been working with to depart, leaving a new aggressive salesperson who wants to close the deal immediately. This can break the relationship that the CISO had with the startup, causing the process to start all over again.

Apart from the product itself, CISOs also evaluate a startup’s funding rounds, exit strategy, and future plans. While startups are known for their agility and quick problem-solving abilities, it’s crucial not to overpromise. Instead, be transparent about what you can deliver and how long it will take.

“You’ve got to build a relationship. And building a relationship takes time. And it’s building trust too.”

Kenneth Foster, VP of IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance at FLEETCOR

How to effectively engage and educate CISOs about your product

If you want to educate CISOs about your product, focus on small regional conferences. However, keep in mind that your main goal should be education rather than promoting your product. CISOs aren’t interested in a product demo. Instead, they want to understand the specific problem your product solves and why you developed it. Make sure to quickly and clearly communicate the problem you are trying to solve and why your product is the solution.

During your presentation, encourage CISOs to ask questions and share their ideas with you. They may have unique experiences and perspectives on market problems you haven’t considered. By inviting their feedback, you can gain valuable insights that can help you refine your product and improve its value to customers. Remember, the goal of these conferences is to educate and collaborate with CISOs, not just sell them a product.

“Get why you built your product and what problem you were looking at that you were trying to solve quickly. And then let’s let people ask you questions and tear apart your thinking.”

Kenneth Foster, VP of IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance at FLEETCOR

Now that you know how to successfully sell your product to a CISO…learn how to apply other tactics and tools for a disruptive B2B marketing and sales strategy. Check out the full list of episodes here: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience, and instructions on how to rate and review the show are here.

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