Advising on matters of security is a technical sales game. And if fortune would have you succeed in this industry, you will quickly understand that selling a corporate security strategy to your client is ultimately an exchange of value.
What do I mean?
Well, essentially, an exchange of value in this domain is the salary or contract award a client provides for the expertise, services, and or counsel of his/her Security Advisor. The client could be a corporation or a private individual. It doesn’t matter. All the fundamentals remain true.
So how do we provide that added value to our client and the larger organization they are a part of?
Scale Security to the Business Model
Match your solutions to the demands of the client.
To do this effectively, study and understand the organization you are protecting. What industry are you serving? What piece of that industry will you be working in? Is your client in engineering, business, banking, or offshore construction?
Understand the business you are protecting and the concerns they have. Then, tailor your security design to the industry and the goals of the client. It goes without saying that, if your client is involved in upstream development in remote and austere locations, the tactic through which you succeed will be different than designing security solutions for meetings in Dubai.
But the corporate security strategy dictates tactics. The people we protect cannot be expected to be security-minded. On the contrary, they often only care about solving business problems and achieving exceptional results. In this situation, the key to gaining the trust of senior executives is to be able to connect with them about issues that are on their minds.
Before you scream at me hear me out.
A lot of what we do is consultative by design. So, you have to be able to communicate in a language your client understands. Most executives tend not to get involved in trivial details and minutiae. They certainly don’t care about the details of your security plan, mission, or background.
However, they care about solving big business problems and improving areas under their control. To capture and retain an executive client’s attention, that is what we must be talking about — improving areas under their control. And that is why having a sharp, client-focused security plan is essential.
Deliver Added Value
So how do we improve areas under our client’s control? The answer will come as you scale your solutions to the business model you are a part of. Trust the process and ask yourself some questions; Is your client’s organization restructuring globally?
If so, it’s possible that a corporate security strategy needs to scale to the redesign of the supply chain. Maybe the client is concerned about proprietary theft as the result of an insider threat or risky joint venture. If that is the case, your solution should still match to enable the success of business objectives.
Remaining client-focused will ensure that legacy security programs continue unabated. Once integrated at the proposal and operational stages, security is no longer viewed as a cost drain, non-revenue producing cog.
On the contrary, value-added security ensures the future success of the business line. You want the client to see your mission as important yes – but just as equally important as finance, engineering, proposals, and procurement. Projects don’t move forward without checking every box. Security should be no different.
Know Industry Trends
Demonstrate understanding of the market you find yourself in.
For instance, let’s say you work in oil and gas. But not just that, you work in a niche part of the industry focused directly on engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). As such, the industry you’re in is not an oil company itself, but one that enables international oil companies (IOCs) through technology that enables everything from extraction to market delivery.
Without your company’s technology, petroleum never leaves the ground or ocean floor. It’s a global mission and as such, some of the most dangerous places on earth could be your workplace.
The client is looking at the locations and customers he currently serves; but he is also looking at emerging markets and undeveloped areas of focus, just as his competitors are. CEOs are thinking forward and so should the security professional advising them. After all, a company or client is only as secure as the competency of those protecting them.
Believe me, the future is what your client is thinking about. So, if you are in that company, and your purpose is to advise and consult on the best course of protective action, you should be looking at the market areas your client is looking at. Because in all likelihood, that location will be a future stop.
Refine Communication… Then Refine Some More
Effective security is based on communication. Refine your pitch and keep it simple. Situation depending, it’s likely that your client does not think as you do. Remember, if your client is in business, then they are thinking about the business. So, designing your corporate security strategy to enable their success equals everything to building trust.
And trust is what it all comes down to. Trust from your client that you are securing the now and planning for the future. Trust that the security plan you have will ensure the success of the business, not hinder it. Scale your plan to the business. Demonstrate your added value. Refine your communication.
Because the same skills and tenacity that got you before top clients will also enable you to provide better solutions, regain prior accounts, expertly serve those who are referred to you, and actively generate new referrals. Your client is looking to you as an enabler.