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Aug. 18, 2022

How to answer the "what do you do" question

“So, what does your company do?”

It’s a simple, common question, but most of us in cybersecurity sales are just not good at answering it.  In this blog, we explain why and how to be great at answering it.

It’s a question that comes up all the time, and with over 5,000 vendors in cyber security, it’s super important that we get it right.  It’s your one chance to capture your prospects' attention, their head and their heart.

Unfortunately, cyber security sales is ravaged by boring, confusing, buzzword-laden answers to the “what do you do” question.

I spent 3 days at the recent RSA convention where I visited 40+ booths and I can assure you that this is still true.

The trouble is we are so damn proud of our products we want to talk about them, hype them up and SELL them.  And we better clearly explain the amazing things it does otherwise we are accused of UNDERSELLING it.  Who has been told, “you should have talked about X”?

I get it!! We are building something great.  It is advanced.  It is potentially groundbreaking.  It might even change the industry. And we want to tell people about it.

But, answering the question “what do you do” by telling them what your product does, is a bad way to answer the question.

And that’s because that’s not really the question you are being asked.

You are actually being asked these 3 questions:

  • “What could you do for me?”

  • “How do you deliver that?”

  • “How do you do it differently?”

Understanding this nuance is the key to making your answer STICK.  But why these 3?

What do you do for me?

Human nature is to think of ourselves first.  To worry over our own real problems, before we are interested in someone else’s. So, we need to clearly tell our prospects which potential problems we solve.

How do you deliver that?

Once your prospect is interested in solving their problem, we need to simply explain how we deliver our solution.  Is it software or hardware?  On-prem or in the cloud?  A consulting engagement? 

How do you do it differently?

And finally, it is normal to compare something new against something you already know about.  Your prospect will be wondering how you are different from the 3 other companies that we sound like.

If you can answer these questions in a way that clarifies, not confuses, you will be ahead of 75% of the other cybersecurity sellers out there.

Here’s a simple structure to use:


1. The people you solve problems for

Tailor your answer for who you are talking to.  If you are talking with your ICP, you can see “We hear from other security leaders…”  If your partner is not your ICP, simply say “Security leaders often tell us… Make this start to your answer succinct!

2. The problem you solve

This is when you introduce the biggest problems you solve for your ICP.  If you think you solve 25 potential problems, challenge yourself to think higher level and to think about which are the most prevalent and important ones.

Ideally, you can get this down to one clearly explained problem.  Sometimes you can have two, but you have to make this hard-hitting and short.  Don’t use 50 words and 30 seconds to do this!  It should be as short as you can get it.

Express the problem using emotional words (because your prospect is a human with emotions too!!) 

So instead of saying “CISOs have to reduce costs…” say, “CISOs have been challenged by their CFOs to reduce spending and they are struggling to balance cost reduction while still reducing risk.  Frankly, many are feeling a little vulnerable with the direction this is going inside their organization.”

3. Describe what you do in simple words

Humans need some context here to remove potential confusion.  They (and you!) don’t want them thinking you are offering a service, when in fact you have software.

So, explain, very simply, how you solve the problem.  Avoid buzzwords and any phrase that will make your prospect inwardly (or outwardly!) groan!  

Don’t say “We have the world's first AI platform that optimizes your breach remediation process taking into account threat modeling heuristics and human intelligence.  It also integrates with other vendors through a JSON API that is hardened and resilient."

Do say “Our software takes in your breach information.  It analyzes the data to see what happened and then tells you where you can improve your processes and policies.  in the analysis phase, it uses things like AI and our own algorithms to make this more accurate and faster”. 

4. Outcome

State the business outcome that your customers get from using your solution.  Again, be concise and clear.  Don’t use hyperbole!

Something as simple as “What this means is that CISOs are able to reduce spend as well as be much more efficient in their breach remediation process” If you have concrete numbers make sure to add them in too!

5. Ask a thoughtful question

Finally, remember the purpose is to draw your prospect into a longer conversation, so ask them a thoughtful question.  Don’t leave this to chance! And don’t ask a lame question like “does that make sense?”

Instead, how about “How are you working on improving your breach remediation process today?” or “What challenges are you currently facing when it comes to cleaning up after breaches?”

Remember the goal is not to explain everything.  Your goal is to answer the question so that they are more informed AND want to learn more.

And also remember that it is a framework, not a script.  You need to bring your own style and words to make it work for you.

It is a super simple framework for cybersecurity sellers to use. It works. And I highly encourage you to take it and apply it to what you sell.

Because, when you explain what you do clearly in a compelling way you vastly increase the chances of your prospect understanding it and remembering it.


You might also like this blog: 1st meeting checklist


Unstoppable’s sales operating system is designed for cybersecurity startups and removes the random guesswork, provides repeatable sales plays, and enables you to grow more consistently, and faster. Schedule a strategy call