By David Rodger –

When I was working at Mimecast, I remember watching a presentation by the then CEO, Peter Bauer, who talked about things he wanted the company to focus on that he thought would be key to success, and one of those was “Be easy to do business with”. It wasn’t the only one, but it’s one that I think is probably undervalued in the cyber security space, and when I was asked to come up with some ideas for a blog post, it’s one that I thought I could talk about with a degree of experience, because dealing with other businesses is something that every business has to do! “Be easy to do business with” is both a very simple proposition, but also not something that everyone (or even most people) achieve all of the time. It’s also potentially a really broad topic, so I’m going to narrow it down a bit for today! I should probably say at this point that the following is very much based on a collection of my experience and anecdotal evidence from others I’ve worked with and spoken to, certainly not an exhaustively studied piece of research, but I’m hopeful that if nothing else, it gives some food for thought.

I am going to make one claim towards the end that I think some people will on the surface see as a little outlandish, but I’m going to justify it (I’m just going to ask you to read the rest of the article to get to that point).


In the IT industry, and in Cyber security in particular, we all spend a huge amount of time looking at who has “the best technology” for solving particular problems. Marketing Pounds and Dollars are spent (sometimes in incredible amounts) on making prospects and customers aware of the latest innovations, and how each new feature and improvement will be the difference maker between a vendor and their competitors. I’ve certainly spoken to Product Managers and developers at multiple vendors who believed that if a product was good enough, it would just sell itself. (Obviously as someone in Sales, I took this in a positive light and with good grace, and certainly didn’t ask them why they didn’t join the sales team…)

But there is another differentiator that I don’t think gets talked about as much. Technology is clearly important, but the element that often seems to be ignored is the people and culture of a company, and particularly how that impacts how a company communicates with it’s customers, partners, and suppliers. I’m sure there are a raft of other things that could be written on other areas where people are a differentiator for a business (in fact I’ve ended up rewriting parts of this a number of times because of going off on tangents around them!). but for the sake of making this a readable length, I’m going to try and limit this to communication, because in my experience there are a couple of areas where it makes a difference that don’t get enough attention. Similarly I’m only going to focus on this from the point of view of cyber security vendors. There are absolutely ways that I can see this applying to Resellers, Managed Service Providers, Professional Services businesses, and many others, but space is limited. Perhaps I’ll revisit those if people are interested enough in what I have to say on vendors…


In my mind, there are (at least) 4 ways in which good communication helps businesses when viewed through that lens, and those are:

• Making bringing on board new customers easier and smoother
• Giving you cheerleaders in the Channel
• Improving customer relationships and retention
• Increasing your product’s efficacy (Potentially controversial, but bear with me)

To look at the first point, I don’t think it’s a struggle to see how good communication helps with the sales process. Going back to the first paragraph, technology is important, but in most areas of cybersecurity, there are at least one or two, often more, vendors who are competing for being the top technology in that space, and frequently they will be leapfrogging each other every few months with the latest and greatest innovation, and so who is “the best” for a customer becomes more than a question of matching a particular set of customer requirements, as the technology change outpaces the contract length. Instead, it’s often the vendor who best demonstrates that they understand the customer’s priorities and requirements, and who the customer trusts most to deliver on those who is most likely to win the business. In an environment where technology struggles to be the differentiator, it’s who best listens to the customer, and can communicate back to them how they match what a customer is looking for, who wins the business.


When it comes to the Channel (from a vendor’s point of view), communication is also a key differentiator. Firstly, from a reseller’s point of view, if a vendor has a clearly communicated and easy to understand message and value proposition, a reseller is far more likely to have a conversation around it with their customers and prospects, and thus discover (and win) more opportunities for that vendor. Secondly, in a similar way to how they can win with customers, if all else is equal from a technology point of view, if a vendor is able to demonstrate to their channel partners that they understand the needs, challenges, and priorities of each partner, and how those match their channel program and activities, then those partners will be more inclined to introduce that vendor to their customers. If a vendor makes it easy to qualify potential customers, works in a clear and collaborative way with the channel partner in engagements, and makes onboarding and retaining those customers easy at the completion of a sales process, that’s incredibly valuable to those channel partners. I’m sure others have written on that at length, and indeed there are companies and careers built on the benefits of a strong channel program, but in short, good communication with the channel gains a vendor a huge pool of people with facetime in front of potential customers who will proactively want to introduce the vendor and the customer to each other.