A wise person once said: there are only two levers available to senior management that can have an immediate commercial impact on your growing SaaS business. The first is sales compensation - change sales compensation and you change behaviour almost instantaneously. The second is pricing. Change either of these and the super tanker starts to shift direction.
Wise words for sure but, on reflection, they might have missed a trick. There is one more lever at management's disposal and that is compliance. Change your compliance posture for the better and that super tanker starts to change direction indeed.
Let's explore this in more detail.
Compliance reduces sales friction
Large corporates, government and mid-market companies are accelerating their adoption of SaaS applications. This has never been more prevalent than today, following the Covid-19 pandemic. These serious organisations are open to working with young and innovative SaaS providers. But they expect you to be able to prove conformance to international standards.
At this stage of the game, SaaS buyers are growing tired of the excuses, promises and inevitable dancing that ensues when you can't provide certification. It's unnecessary, awkward and avoidable friction. We all know sales is hard, and enterprise sales is especially hard. Enterprise sales takes time, money and consumes a considerable amount of energy from your growing SaaS company. Don't make this any harder than it needs to be - get the certificate and instantly reduce friction in the sales process.
Get the certificate and instantly reduce friction in the sales process.
Compliance saves everyone time
Let's imagine for a moment that you have captured the attention of a big business. You don't have ISO certification, but you have advanced through the procurement process. Hooray, they still want to work with you!
This isn't that unusual by the way, and happens all the time. Oftentimes, a buyer has a strong desire or immediate need to work with the most fitting solution. This can overcome their desire to save themselves some effort in the procurement process.
But this is where the real work for everyone begins. Cue the 200 question security questionnaire and the request for pen-tests. Out come the security policies and procedures (that you haven't looked at since you downloaded them from the internet or bought them on eBay). Better keep lots of time aside for this as you're going to need it. Unless of course you had that ISO certification.
Compliance levels the playing field
If you're a SaaS business without a competitor, then you're delusional. If you're a SaaS business without an ISO certified competitor, then you just need to look a little harder. The fact is that ISO 27001 certification (and to a lesser extent SOC 2) is becoming ubiquitous within the SaaS industry. In time, every SaaS company will be certified to an information security framework, to have any chance of staying in business.
In time, every SaaS company will be certified to an information security framework.
We already compete with our competitors on dozens of things. Product features, price, financial means, talent, customer logos, brand, culture, ethics and the list goes on. Many of these are largely outside of our control, or at least out of reach. If your competitor truly has a better product, or has a larger financial war chest then we have to do better in all other areas.
But, one area which is completely binary is compliance. You either have it, or you don't. It isn't particularly more difficult, or more within reach for your competitor as it is for you. So why even compete on this? The answer is: we shouldn't. If your competition has ISO 27001 certification now (which it does), then you need it too. There is no justification for handing them this competitive edge, when it is within your control to level the playing field.
Compliance gives us the headspace to do better
It has been widely studied and reported that one of the few things people fear more than death is public speaking. For SaaS founders, what we fear more than death and public speaking combined(!) is our valuable IP or our customer's data being hacked and exposed to the internet.
The truth is that enterprise customers have a high tolerance for many things. Bugs, mediocre support, price increases and maybe even occasional downtime. But not this. Not a security breach where their data gets into the public domain and into the hands of third parties. This is a SaaS company's greatest risk and a SaaS founder's greatest fear. It's one of the few things, maybe even the only thing, that can kill our business in an instant. It's also the one big thing that keeps us awake at night.
Enterprise customers have zero tolerance for a security breach.
So how does compliance to ISO standards help? Simply put, ISO 27001 ensures that we are doing all that we can, within reason, to keep our information systems safe and secure.
The process of going through an ISO certification has a transformative effect on the people working in the business. This includes the founders, the senior management team and all staff. You will sleep better at night - seriously! And that knot in your stomach from knowing that things aren't quite at the level they should be will quickly dissipate. The psychological and physiological benefits of ISO certification will clear your head and allow for greater focus. This will help you close more enterprise sales and deliver more success for your business.
We've talked about how compliance to ISO standards can be a tremendous advantage in enterprise sales. We would go as far as saying that it is only a matter of time before a lack of compliance will rule you out of enterprise sales entirely. So, time is of the essence. There is no point waiting until it's too late and your company's greatest opportunity lands on your desk before you react and scramble for a solution.
This won't work, because compliance takes time. ISO certification is not something that you can turnaround at short notice. You can't effortlessly deliver it to a customer while on the cusp of closing a sales cycle. If you are serious about enterprise sales, then you need to be serious about compliance.
The good news is that we can help. Using Upscaler, you can comply with ISO 27001 and other standards in the least amount of time. And you'll do it with less effort, less cost and less confusion than any other solution in the market.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Upscaler don't hesitate to contact our team. We love to talk with SaaS companies and help them on their journey in any way that we can.