IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Selling Cybersecurity Even If You’re Not a Security Expert, Part 3: Qualifying Prospects for Cybersecurity Services

Many providers believe that selling security is significantly harder than selling managed IT services. It’s not. By Erick Simpson

Security is the No. 1 concern of business owners today. This isn’t surprising given the number of hacks, breaches, data thefts, ransomware attacks, and privacy violations that we hear about on a daily basis. And those are just the ones we know about. According to the Online Trust Alliance’s (OTA) most recent Cyber Incident & Breach Trends Report, cybersecurity incidents nearly doubled from about 82,000 in 2016 to 160,000 or so in 2017. But since so many breaches go unreported, the OTA notes that this number could easily be more than double that.

The necessity to thwart cybercriminals and protect critical business, financial, healthcare, and other data has created a tremendous opportunity for IT service providers to address this challenge while benefiting from a continually growing revenue stream.

In this series, I’ll dive deep into the topic of selling security services and cover essential topics such as the solutions available within different levels of security offerings; how to lead with security to prospect effectively and set appointments; and how to price, position, and sell these services, even if you’re not a security expert.

Cybersecurity Prospect Qualifying Overview

After Sales Prospecting and Preparation activities and conducting the Sales Warm-Up with your new prospect during your first meeting, Sales Qualifying is the third step of the 7 Step Sales Process you will conduct, and is a critical one towards your evolution as a prospective client’s trusted advisor.

Properly Positioning Cybersecurity Services Through Effective Qualifying

A successful qualifying process is necessary to uncover valuable information regarding your prospect’s cybersecurity needs, and to understand if they can be addressed and where they align within your cybersecurity services and deliverables. During the Qualifying phase of the sales process, you should ask a series of strategic questions that keeps your prospect’s curiosity piqued and strengthens your perceived competence by the prospect.

The most effective way to qualify a prospect for cybersecurity services is to identify their active security problems or pains and elevate the priority of their latent needs through a series of strategic diagnostic, issue, and implication questions designed to increase buying temperature and accelerate sales velocity. The next step is to position away typical alternatives the prospect may consider, such as waiting or doing nothing, trying to fix it themselves internally, or engaging a competitor of yours. Finally, the best solution to address their cybersecurity challenges is presented—to engage with you and your organization. When executed correctly, this strategy will noticeably improve your sales closing results.

Qualifying Prospects Using the QBS® Approach

My technique for training sales professionals is influenced by the Question Based Selling methodology pioneered by Thomas A. Freese at QBS Research. When qualifying prospects and clients using the QBS approach, you will: 

  1. Establish credibility by using Diagnostic or Status questions to uncover a prospect’s pain and needs
  2. Identify active needs and increase the priority of latent needs using Issue questions
  3. Use Implication questions to create a heightened sense of urgency in a prospect to resolve their active and latent pain and needs
  4. And let them know you can help by introducing your solution to them.

About the Author

Erick Simpson's picture

A Technology Businesses and Channel Growth and Transformation Consultant | Business Process Improvement, M&A and Integration Expert

Co-Founder of one of the first "Pure Play" MSPs in the industry, and creator of the MSP Mastered™ Methodology for Managed Services business performance improvement and the Vendor Channel Maturity Level Index™ that identifies IT channel program maturation for strategic growth, Erick Simpson is a strategic technology business growth and transformation specialist. He is experienced in improving top and bottom-line business performance by increasing operational efficiencies, boosting marketing and lead generation outcomes, accelerating sales velocity, shortening sales cycles and maximizing service efficiencies.

With over 30 years of experience in the IT industry as an Enterprise CIO, MSP, Strategic Coach and Consultant, Erick is a Business Process Improvement Expert with hundreds of successful IT Solution Provider, MSP, Cloud and Security practice business improvement consulting engagement outcomes.

One of the most prolific, recognized and sought-after  business improvement and transformation experts, authors and speakers in the industry, Erick has contributed to numerous industry publications and spoken at hundreds of events.

His published works include "The Guide to a Successful Managed Services Practice"; the definitive book on Managed Services, “The Best I.T. Sales & Marketing BOOK EVER!”, “The Best I.T. Service Delivery BOOK EVER!” and “The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations BOOK EVER!”, along with 50 Best Practice Guides.

Consulting Services for MSPs and Channel Vendors:



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