Cybersecurity sales: Do you have what it takes to succeed?

Technology is at the heart of the world economy, and we’re moving into a new age of business where its technology – not people – is becoming the differentiator, says Terry Greer-King, VP EMEA at SonicWall.

cybersecurity sales

From engineering to sales to cybersecurity sales

Though he started his working life in electronics engineering, the world of sales and marketing “really lit a fire,” and he’s been growing his career for years by purposely seeking sales experience across as many mediums as possible.

Currently the VP EMEA at SonicWall, Greer-King landed the position at the network security company after a string of top cybersecurity leadership roles at CheckPoint, Cisco and Akamai.

“A sale of a cybersecurity solution is not quite the same as in many other areas of technology, because the risk and therefore the opportunity is constantly evolving,” he told Help Net Security.

“Sales success should be based on helping customers protect themselves in line with their view of risk and associated profile. Nirvana has yet to be achieved, through, so there is constant sales opportunity to continue to work with customers to constantly adjust their defenses. This extends to connecting as far as possible not just on current state, but projecting the future and considering risk as an integral concern along with how a business transforms digitally.”

Also, we should keep in mind that as the cybersecurity industry has grown from identifying particular threats and developing and marketing appropriate solutions, the bad actors have been developing their “industry” as well, so protection is not as straightforward as implementing specific technology solutions.

“The bad guys are extremely agile and motivated, which means that nothing about the cyber world should be ‘fit and forget.’ My advice to customers is to constantly check and validate their defenses against what should be a constant appraisal and rating of risk. In short, cybersecurity is an ongoing, unending process, and defense is a combination of human behavior and technology that should be deployed in a considered way.”

As the potential reward for malicious behavior increases and the drive towards digital transformation – accelerated by the remote working requirements of the pandemic restrictions – continues, the future looks even more challenging. The requirements to secure and protect will become ever greater.

It is crucial that cybersecurity transcends from a bolt-on fix to being at the core of business thought and strategy, he points out. “Technology is moving to the centre of all that we do. Consequently, we are becoming increasingly reliant on it and its security.”

Advice for people in sales

With a career in sales and customer-facing functions that stretched across many markets – industrial automation, personal computers, office automation, networking, and cybersecurity – Greer-King says that one of the keys to success is to be constantly growing your knowledge.

“I’ve learned much over the years, often through failures. It seems to me that if you don’t fail, you’re not pushing hard enough. Another challenge, of course, is to reflect and learn from the experience. Learning is gradual, but will happen only if you’re open to new things, able to listen and are constantly pushing boundaries,” he told Help Net Security.

Another thing that’s essential for a successful career in sales is an appreciation of interdependence.

“Independence is a trait often looked for in particular functions like sales, but it focuses on the self. Success, on the other hand, is built though cooperation and teamwork. I think one of the greatest lessons I learned through the years is that you have to make sure you’ve got smart people around you – smart people, aligned with the overall strategy and working towards a common goal, can achieve great things.”

Finally, he says he has benefited hugely from a year-long senior leader development program in recent years, which taught him that successful leadership isn’t just about strong leadership from the top, but also hinges a lot on one’s ability to adapt to circumstances and people.

“Leadership requires listening, motivation, implementing process, guiding, mentoring and so much more,” he concluded.

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