Security Questionnaires and the Sales Cycle: How to Shorten the Vendor Management Process Using Automation

By ProcessBolt | June 11, 2019

The sales cycle has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the days of a simple handshake to close the deal. A typical sales cycle can include numerous steps including prospecting, setting appointments, qualifying, presentation, handling objections, closing, and follow-up. Today, many companies are requesting an additional critical step as part of vendor management: security risk assessments.

All account executives strive to shorten the sales cycle to hit goals and bring in more revenue. So this additional vendor management step is causing many account executives to cry out in frustration. Submitting a lengthy security questionnaire to their infosec team often becomes a roadblock to closing the deal. The cycle stalls at this point and some quickly lose the deal to companies that have automated the vendor management process and provide a faster turnaround.

Some account executives regard these questionnaires as laborious and pointless, dragging on the sales cycle far beyond what is reasonable. However, security breach headlines tell us why this is the new norm. The vendor security questionnaire is not going away any time soon, and is increasingly a critical part of vendor management, so your best course of action is to accept the security questionnaire as part of the sales cycle. However, the time it takes your infosec team to complete it can change dramatically.

Speed Up Your Sales Cycle
If you’re a seasoned account executive, think back to the days when your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, such as Salesforce, didn’t exist. Everything was a manual process, from prospecting new clients to closing the deal. Keeping track of correspondence with potential customers was a lesson in email management. Spreadsheets were used to track accounts, client information and deal status.

As CRMs flooded the market, access to sales information became lightning-fast. All client data was right at your fingertips. Prospects could be found and closed in a single day. The sales cycle decreased dramatically through automation.

Vendor management is now following a similar path. Security risk questionnaires no longer need to be the roadblocks to your sales cycle. The key is automation. Any process that is repetitive and utilizes the same inputs to generate similar outputs can benefit from automation. Your information security team is manually inputting identical answers into countless security questionnaire spreadsheets, wasting hours each week. So why not automate the process?

To speed up the sales cycle, begin by breaking the routine of receiving spreadsheets from your clients and handing them off to your infosec team to manually complete. Instead, introduce a solution to automate this process: a vendor risk management (VRM) platform. Not just for the customer side, today’s top VRM platforms also automate the collection of vendors’ answers, artifacts and documents. This data is stored in the cloud and auto-matched to your customers’ security questionnaires and requests, eliminating hours, and quite possibly days, from your sales cycle.

Why Automate Security Questionnaires?
There are many benefits to adding a VRM platform to your sales process:

  • Your infosec team will thank you: Your security analysts did not enter into their careers to manually complete spreadsheets. Up to 95% of the process can be automated, freeing up their time to do what they enjoy.
  • Win more deals: Automating the security questionnaire step removes the roadblock and speeds up the sales cycle. A faster sales cycle gives you a leg-up on those vendors still completing questionnaires manually.
  • Generate customer trust: A quick turnaround on security questionnaires tells your customers that vendor assessments are ingrained into your processes, giving them peace of mind.
  • Central repository for your assessment answers: If your senior security analyst resigns tomorrow, not only will you lose a valuable member of your team, you’ll also lose knowledge of your internal security practices. By automating the process, answers to security questionnaires can be stored in the cloud and accessed on demand.
  • Increased security for your business: Your infosec team’s primary role is protecting your business. When they spend hours or days each week on security questionnaires, it puts your business at risk.

Finding the Right Vendor Management Platform
Many VRM tools on the market today only focus on helping organizations assess vendors. Most have simply moved the spreadsheet to the cloud, automating the process for customers but not vendors. Your infosec team will still be required to login to the platform and manually complete the questionnaire.

ProcessBolt focuses on eliminating this pain point for vendors. We’ve removed the manual spreadsheet process completely by storing your common assessment answers in our Knowledge Base. Once a security questionnaire is received, ProcessBolt uses state-of-the-art proprietary matching technology to match your answers to the questions, saving your team up to 90% of the time it typically takes to complete a questionnaire. Unique questions that cannot be auto-matched are sent to your infosec team to answer, and these answers are added into the Knowledge Base for future use.

To learn more about how ProcessBolt can automate the vendor management process and dramatically reduce your sales cycle, schedule a demo.

ProcessBolt Empowers Your Process

Whether you're an enterprise, vendor or service provider, ProcessBolt can not only simplify but accelerate your vendor risk management process. Schedule a demo today to see just how easy vendor risk assessment questionnaires can be.

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