Keys to a Thriving CISO-Vendor Partnership in 2024

  • UserVal Tsanev
  • April 19, 2024
  • 4 min read
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The ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape demands a strong alliance between CISOs and their security vendors. Building a partnership based on trust, open communication, and shared understanding can bring out the best in security investments. This helps strengthen a company's overall security approach. However, neglecting this partnership can have severe consequences, leaving a business exposed, vulnerable, and potentially wasting valuable resources.

In today's complex security environment, where organizations juggle numerous vendors, fostering thriving CISO-vendor relationships is more critical than ever. This article explores the key secrets to establishing and maintaining a successful and strong relationship with cybersecurity vendors.

Let’s start.

Before exploring the key factors involved in maintaining a strong CISO-Vendor partnership, let us first understand what both sides want from each other. This will help both parties understand each other's perspective, ultimately aiding in building a strong foundation for the relationship.

What CISOs Want From Cybersecurity Vendors?

In simple words, CISOs want:

  1. Good Security
  2. Lesser Cyber Attacks
  3. Value for money spent.

But on top of all, a well-oiled, trusted, and transparent relationship is what CISOs want from cybersecurity vendors.

With the fundamentals addressed, let's discuss the nuanced aspects of successful CISO-vendor relationships. A clear understanding of your security vendor requirements is paramount for any CISO aiming to establish a productive partnership. While specifics may vary, several universally essential prerequisites are highlighted by CISOs.

A well-defined engagement scope, featuring tangible KPIs and measurable deliverables or reporting, is crucial for compliance and to ensure effective resource allocation. Understanding the vendor's responsibilities and accountability to the organization through a clear engagement scope is critical. Lack of clarity may lead to silos or gaps.

CISOs seek clarity on a vendor's solutions—what problems they address, what they don't, and how they complement existing solutions. They require straightforward information on integration points, necessary actions from their team, designated technical liaisons from the vendor, ongoing operational engagement, and the technology's future evolution.

Gary Hayslip, Chief Information Security Officer at SoftBank Investment Advisers, says that he doesn’t trust vendors when they say their solution provides 100% results. He mentions, “This is a major pet peeve for me, don’t make sweeping statements like this because we all know there are no silver bullets. When we hear vendors say they do 100% of something, such as “We use blockchain to catch 100% of the vulnerabilities,” — many of us with cybersecurity experience cringe and tend to view these vendors negatively. To make a point about how important this is for me, I don’t allow my teams to say they know something is 100% or they can prove something to be 100%.”

CISOs seek vendors who have diligently researched their company's activities. Vendors who discuss how their solutions align with field-level encryption or boundary protection are particularly intriguing. This level of comprehension fosters essential trust in the relationship. They look for vendors who make it all easy for CISOs and manage various complexities and compliance on their end.

“I am also wary of vendors who can’t fully explain how their technology works because it’s a secret. CISOs have numerous security controls, compliance requirements, and risk mitigation initiatives they must manage with limited resources. I seek flexible solutions that can help provide resiliency, not proprietary, static, or rigid ones. So be Gumby! Help CISOs build resiliency into their security portfolios.” Gary continues.

Discover invaluable insights in Execweb's enlightening webinar as CISO ambassadors from Fortune 1000 companies unravel the true expectations of CISOs from vendors. Gain expert guidance on how vendors can secure coveted 1:1 meetings with CISOs, ensuring a pathway to successful partnerships and business growth.

What Cybersecurity Vendors Want From CISOs?

A successful relationship is always a two-way street. The foremost frustration expressed by cybersecurity vendors toward CISOs is the limited chance for dialogue, frequently leading to abrupt dismissals without a fair assessment. We understand that with thousands of vendors out there, CISOs are often bombarded with unlimited calls and messages, and a constant barrage of poor sales tactics. However, CISOs should consider offering a respectful response. A few words of coaching advice to a salesperson who's clearly new to the game can be more effective in the long run than simply ignoring them or firing back a harsh reply. Plus, honesty goes a long way. Be truthful about the likelihood of doing business with them, saving both your time and theirs.

Creating a strong partnership and getting great outcomes depends on CISOs giving vendors a chance to explain their solutions instead of being difficult to reach. This helps vendors to communicate their solution’s value and make sales to CISOs.

Here's what else vendors seek when interacting with CISOs.

Clear Communication: Vendors need a clear understanding of their security goals and challenges. Open communication about your environment and needs allows them to tailor solutions and support effectively.

Realistic Expectations: Let’s be clear: No vendor can guarantee 100% protection against cyber threats. But they can adapt to the needs of their clients when they have full clarity of their demands. A clearly defined scope of engagement for security services or products is crucial. This ensures the CISO has a transparent understanding of the vendor's responsibilities and accountability to the organization. Without clear expectations, silos or communication gaps can emerge, hindering successful collaboration.

In a nutshell, the key to a thriving CISO-vendor partnership can be summed up in one word: communication. Open and honest dialogue allows both parties to clearly convey expectations, understand each other's needs, and foster trust. This transparency is essential for building a strong, long-lasting relationship that ultimately benefits everyone involved.

Join Execweb to Forge Strategic Partnerships with Top CISOs from Fortune 1000

Cybersecurity vendors invest significant resources in various initiatives to connect and cultivate partnerships with CISOs, yet often yield no results. Partnering with Execweb alleviates the struggle of finding CISOs, granting you swift access. Our network comprises Fortune 1000 CISOs and top executives actively seeking innovative cybersecurity vendors. Just fill out the contact form, and our team will promptly reach out to provide more information.

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