If SOC 2 isn’t Accelerating Sales, You’re Doing it Wrong

Learn how to maximize the investment in your SOC 2 program to accelerate business growth.

Cate Callegari
5 min read

SOC 2 is more than a security compliance framework – it is a business enabler. The majority of technical and business leaders are managing all types of risk, and knowing how and when to invest in security to help scale their revenue and growth is a common concern for organizations of all sizes. Owning and building your security program for the first time can be daunting, but when done properly can reap benefits beyond security. It is important to understand the pain points of building and maintaining a security compliance program, and how quality can go a long way when acquiring new business and retaining enterprise customers and partners.

Demands for Saas Organizations to Prove Their Security Maturity

The demands for SaaS organizations to showcase their security maturity have undergone significant shifts in the past few years. Larger organizations are increasingly prioritizing Vendor Risk Management, subjecting vendors to more rigorous scrutiny and requiring multiple security credentials. Even within the startup ecosystem, there's a noticeable increase in security expectations from enterprise deals and clients. Venture capitalists are increasing pressure on startups to establish robust security programs that extend beyond compliance. While some market pressures remain constant, the pace has accelerated. A decade ago, security was primarily an enterprise concern, with an emphasis on perimeter and endpoint security. Startups often relied on their enterprise counterparts to finance security measures. 

Today's security landscape is vastly different. Security questionnaires, proof of security maturity, and comprehensive pentests have become prerequisites, even for initial engagements with vendors. Organizations must present certificates like SOC 2 or other compliance frameworks, as well as pentests that demonstrate the depth of coverage and clean certificates to even enter into discussions. However, the journey doesn't end there. For many clients, particularly in the Financial Services sector, ongoing monitoring and improvements are essential. Financial services make up 24.5% of Software Secured’s client base, as the industry remains one of the most highly regulated sectors when it comes to security and compliance. Quarterly updates on vulnerabilities are not just recommended, they are expected, in addition to biannual pentesting on the application, external network and internal network for those PCI-compliant firms. Staying ahead requires not only meeting current standards but also anticipating future requirements as organizations are becoming more security-minded. Building your first security program can be challenging, and it is common to make mistakes along the way, check out the top pitfalls organizations experience and how to avoid them below. 

Common Security Pitfalls That Startups Make As They Are Building Their First Security Program

When it comes to startups embarking on their journey to establish their first security programs, common pitfalls occur at various stages of growth. 

Pre-Seed Problems and Pitfalls: 

In the pre-seed phase, these organizations eagerly seek their first major deals or partnerships and often encounter demands for compliance certifications like SOC 2 or requests for pentesting. The pitfall here lies in underestimating the importance of investing in robust security protocols and programs early on in their growth stage while balancing these demands with a limited budget. Neglecting to prioritize security while completing SOC 2 is common at this stage, as many organizations don’t invest in quality pentesting during their compliance journey. In very rare cases, a vulnerability scan is enough, though a penetration test is your safest bet if you want to maximize ROI from your spending. Not only will you find more vulnerabilities, but you will also receive support for remediating these security gaps before your compliance audit. You will have much higher confidence in the software you are delivering and you will prove your commitment to security to your enterprise clients early on with a quality report you can rely on for the next year of growth.

Round A Problems and Pitfalls:

As organizations progress to the Round A stage, having solved initial compliance hurdles and secured revenue streams, they face heightened scrutiny from enterprise clients, particularly regarding the scope of their security program (for example are all relevant Trust Service Criteria (TSCs) included in your SOC 2 given the functionality of your application and the types of vulnerabilities that are open from a last pentest. Despite their evolving status, some organizations fail to adjust their security budgets to align with their growth trajectory. This oversight can leave them vulnerable to unforeseen threats and compromises. 

Round B & C Problems and Pitfalls:

By the time organizations reach Rounds B and C, boasting impressive client portfolios along with complex product lines and internal structures, security challenges escalate dramatically. A common pitfall at this stage (and all stages) is the misconception that compliance is the same as security. While achieving certifications like SOC 2 is a snapshot of an organization's security posture, it's important to understand that compliance is just one aspect of a comprehensive security program. If you are preparing for an M&A or simply looking to deliver to your shareholders by speeding up your sales cycles and increasing revenue with larger clients, quarterly pentesting, ongoing vulnerability scanning on your network, application and source code and quick, informed responses to security questions elevate your company value.

Viewing compliance as a one-time achievement rather than an ongoing commitment can be detrimental to an organization's success. As organizations expand into larger enterprise markets, credentials alone won't suffice—they must demonstrate the continuous operation of an effective security program. Quality partnerships like vCISO and penetration testing firms play a crucial role in navigating these challenges, particularly in security. Partners who can adapt to evolving security landscapes and operate within these environments are invaluable assets to your technical team and your bottom line. Ultimately, achieving lasting security requires an approach that integrates people, processes, and technology, ensuring resilience against evolving threats and regulatory demands.

15 Technical Controls to Help Build A Quality Security Program and Achieve SOC 2

Now that we have covered the common problems and pitfalls for organizations who are starting to build their first security program, it is crucial to explore key focus areas to help build a strong foundation alongside your SOC 2 requirements.

These foundational elements not only demonstrate your commitment to security but also serve as vital components for due diligence processes and future investments.

Key technical controls to focus on:

  1. Creating a culture of security across all teams at all levels
  2. Ensuring policies aren’t cookie cutter and actually achievable 
  3. Securing Identity and Access Management early
  4. MFA across all accounts for all employees
  5. On/Offboard security processes for all employees
  6. Conditional access and least privilege principle baked into your product and software
  7. Stamp out Access Keys 
  8. Implement Roles (groups vs. individual users), RBAC
  9. Continually understand, monitor and tighten your Risk Registry
  10. Third-Party Risk Management (establishing a Vendor Risk Management)
  11. Investing in a proper penetration test, conducting in a cadence that makes sense for the data you process, store and access
  12. Default to encrypt everything at rest and in transit
  13. Review all Firewall rules, truly understand exposure and points of entry
  14. Proper logging and monitoring to assist observability and incident detection and response
  15. Resilience and Fault Tolerance

How to Maximize SOC 2 Benefits Beyond Compliance 

For organizations seeking to maximize the return on their investment in SOC 2 certification, there are several strategies to ensure that it translates into increased revenue, faster deal cycles, and attracting the right investors.

Quality Security as a Selling Point

A robust security infrastructure not only enhances your organization's resilience but also serves as a powerful selling point. Vendors are no longer accepting compliance as a form of security. To set yourself apart from your competition, compliance paired with a strong security program will give you a competitive edge in the sales process for both enterprise clients and security customers and partners in regulated sectors. A high-quality pentest report, demonstrating your commitment to enterprise-grade security, can significantly accelerate the sales lifecycle. Stakeholders will be more likely to close a deal with you if you can provide them with hard proof of your regularly updated and monitored security program along with your SOC 2 certification, quickly upon request. Customers are becoming more aware of their data and what is being shared/processed by organizations, and 90% of people are more likely to trust an organization if they have a firm privacy policy.

Marketing SOC 2

Leverage your SOC 2 certification as a marketing asset by prominently featuring it on your organization’s website and marketing assets. However, we recommend you go beyond the standard privacy and security page by providing a detailed dive into the security controls you have in place to safeguard confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Showcasing your commitment to security, not just as a compliance checkbox, but as a fundamental aspect of your culture and product offering will help you further prove your security ethos to enterprise clients and customers

Empowering Your Sales Team 

Recognize that today's buyers are increasingly security-conscious. Proactively integrate discussions about your security controls into product demos and feature presentations, demonstrating your proactive approach to security and addressing potential concerns before they arise.

Empower your sales team to effectively communicate your security posture to potential clients. Collaborate with them to identify common security questions and provide them with the necessary verbiage and resources to address these inquiries confidently during product demos. When you equip your sales team with the tools and knowledge they need, you can enhance customer confidence and streamline the sales process, so deals you forecast to close this quarter don’t bleed into next year.

By emphasizing quality security measures, proactively showcasing your security controls, and empowering your sales team, you can effectively translate your investment in SOC 2 into tangible business outcomes, including increased revenue, accelerated deal cycles, and enhanced investor appeal.

Check out our webinar with Eden Data to learn more about how SOC 2 can accelerate business growth.

About the author

Cate Callegari

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