Responding to security questionnaires (SQs) swiftly is a critical part of maintaining a business. It’s essential for winning new business, as well as quality-checking security health.
But, there’s a catch: solutions or security teams will only succeed if they’re able to balance how quickly they respond to lengthy questionnaires without sacrificing accuracy.
This is why we compiled dozens of expert tips—including wise words from infosec legend, Troy Hunt—in our new guide, Rapidfire Security Questionnaire Responses.
Check out a sneak peek of our top advice below—or download the full guide (it’s free!) to learn more.
The Secret To Getting Ahead? A Pre-Written Package
Whether you’re a team of 1 or 100+, pre-written resources will help you get a head start on questionnaires.
“The more proactive you can be, the better,” says Linda White, Former Director of Cyber Security, UiPath on using security questionnaires templates.
Keep ahead of requests by preparing responses in a database. Or better yet, put together your own trust package, which should include:
- Your company overview
- Security incident management procedures
- Personal information processed by your product or service
- Reliability proof and data backups
Create a Better Process By Streamlining Your Intake
Agile, swift steps—that’s what it takes to close out a questionnaire for a competitive deal. But above all else, there’s an essential first step: streamlining security questionnaire intake.
Before you begin the security questionnaire itself, it’s important to assess the opportunity by creating a go/no-go test. You and your team should always ask yourselves these two essential questions:
- Does this opportunity match our core values and solutions?
- How much value does this bring in for the business?
These answers will inform whether your team should move forward with a questionnaire, or not. If the opportunity is not a match for your company, don't put resources towards it.
Balance Marketing Speak with Clarity & Accuracy
Security questionnaires are all about trust. And as a sales opportunity, they need to be balanced with clear and direct answers.
So how can teams differentiate themselves from the competition? Our experts recommend:
1. Cross-Compare With Competitors for Differentiation
“If we knew it was a competitive situation, our salespeople would bring me the competitor’s whitepapers. I would also look over their website and do a cross-comparison,” explains Linda White, on how to beat out the competition.
2. Customize if You’re in A Competitive Situation
“There’s always an opportunity to explain how you do things differently. If you’re going to say ‘no,’ it should be ‘no, but here’s how we do it better.’ It’s especially important if you’re in a head-to-head competition—it can be the difference between you and another vendor,” says Andrew de Geofroy, VP of Solutions Consulting, VTS.
Upgrade Your Tech Stack (Hint: Integrations Are Key)
Due to the repetitive nature of SQs (who hasn’t gotten similar questions a million times?), the market for security questionnaire automation software has exploded in the past few years.
Knock out questionnaires quickly, by using tools that simplify your team’s search for answers. According to our experts, here are your tech stack must-haves:
- Collaboration software for storing and searching important information, such as a Confluence page for your most important documents, or the Slack integration for Loopio.
- Response software, like Loopio, helps with security questionnaire automation.
- Content management software—take Highspot for example. This platform integrates with Gmail, serves as a central location for documents, and provides valuable engagement analytics.
Build Company-Wide Partnerships by Leading With Empathy
Security wants to focus on keeping their company secure. Sales and Solutions Engineers want to move deals forward. To make Security Questionnaires a collective effort (and get buy-in), collaboration at all levels is key.
To help forge strong relationships—and an accurate, speedy response process—Clari’s Sales Engineering Manager, Ben Chen, recommends dedicated ownership for each part of the process. Plus, training multiple team members for every stage.
“If we have a super long questionnaire, we distribute it evenly between three sales engineers. I am the first-line reviewer, so we edit and make sure that our team’s responses are mostly correct—about 90-95%. Whatever is remaining goes to the final reviewer, our Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This greatly reduces our CISO’s time for review.”
Everyone has their own approach, but by using these expert tips, your team will be able to gain efficiencies in your own security questionnaire response process.