Dikla Shabtay is a seasoned customer success manager who started off as an entrepreneur, founding and managing her own startups in the US, before returning to Israel to lend her commercial expertise to the Israeli cybersecurity scene. We sat down with Dikla to hear about how and why she chose customer success as her next professional endeavor, and what it is about the CSM job that is both maddening and uniquely rewarding. Plus, we asked Dikla about what sets buying security apart from buying any other tool or service for your company.
The Impact of Customer Success
How did you get to be a CSM at CYE?
My journey is not typical. I have been a storyteller for over 25 years, and I’m also a certified life coach. I started off in sales and marketing, then I had my own startup. I then decided I wanted to get into customer success because, to me, that’s the most meaningful part of the customer journey. I took a job as a CSM for a SAAS company in the cybersecurity space. After a few years there, I got a call from CYE that they were building a new CS team.
How does customer success add value to cybersecurity?
The cybersecurity industry is teeming with products and services. This abundance gets confusing for CISOs who get offers thrown at them all the time claiming to be just what they need. In a place where there is so much to offer, a good CSM will cut through the clutter and noise, and really help the CISO get the job done.
CISOs are our main champions at CYE, so being able to differentiate ourselves by not being another voice pushing products at them without listening to what they really need helps to develop relationships.
Is customer success more difficult in the security industry than it is in other industries?
Yes, it is harder to sell security than other products, and there are two main reasons for that. Firstly, (and this goes back to my previous answer) there is such an abundance of products and solutions in this space that it’s hard to set yourself apart and stand out. Secondly, the price point. These products are not cheap, so the sales cycle is longer, and a security provider really needs to prove its worth if a company is going to invest in it. In these conditions, it’s not an easy task to explain your value.
This is in so far as selling security in general. Specifically at CYE, we have two sides to the operation. We have a SaaS product that offers a comprehensive analysis of cyber risk, and takes that analysis a step further by correlating it with a company’s business assets to quantify the cost of breaches. And then we have the services side of things, which offer national-level expert risk assessments, red teaming, pen testing, etc. We’re not a simple “elevator pitch”; our offering really depends on what a customer needs.
What is the goal of customer success at CYE?
When the customer success team at CYE started, our goal was to maintain and deepen the relationship we had with our customers. The trust was there, but there was work to be done on helping them see the value we bring to them. It’s one of those fields where if the product is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, that means you’ve avoided incidents and, essentially, the client isn’t “seeing” anything. It sometimes takes reminding CISOs that in our line of work, when nothing happens, you know we’re doing a good job.
The Challenges of Customer Success
What are some of the challenges that you face?
This job presents various challenges, both internally and externally. Internally, we’re a new department, so we push the boundaries and reshape the environment that the departments we work with are used to. This requires defining and building our relationships with the different departments. Another part of our growing pains is setting up new processes and procedures, which takes time and dedication. Finally, we get some pushback from the technical account managers because it may feel like we overlap at times. But we don’t, and it’s a matter of taking the time to reiterate that we’re here to take the load off of them. To take the commercial part out of TAMs’ communication with the customer allows them to focus on what they do best.
Externally, we’re now dealing with the aftereffects of COVID. We have a lot of customers that we acquired during the height of COVID, when physical meetings were not possible. It was harder to create the kind of personal rapport we aim for with our clients when we couldn’t fly out to meet them face-to-face. So, we’re now making up for lost time and strengthening these relationships.
What are some of the metrics you use in your conversations with customers?
We measure adoption rate, usage, and overall satisfaction. Which is what every customer success person dealing with a SaaS product would be looking at, regardless of the industry. But it’s more how we collect this data, or how hard it is to gain accurate data, that is a real pain point.
Most of customer success’s data is qualitative and not quantitative. It relies on human feedback in the form of weekly conversations with the clients. Which is great if you have a strong and honest relationship with your customers, but not a great barometer if your clients don’t feel they can really speak their mind. This is why building strong, meaningful relationships with CISOs is so important. This is where the CSM’s interpersonal and relationship-building skills come into play.
On a Personal Note
Can you share an experience with a customer that stands out in your mind?
We had a client who was on the verge of renewing a contract. The CISO was dealing with changes in management and the entire roadmap that he had built had shifted unexpectedly. To make matters worse, this was all happening during the annual budgetary discussions. When we got on our weekly call that week, the CISO was visibly disturbed. He was clearly overwhelmed. The TAM started the meeting and immediately got down to business, but I read the CISO’s face and just said, “Let’s stop. Tell me what’s going on.”
He broke down and told us how much pressure he was under. Their main competitors had just experienced a breach and that was putting management in his company on edge. I responded by asking how we can help. And just like that, a bond was formed that this CISO won’t soon forget.
Can you describe a successful outcome that you experienced with a customer?
The end of the story with this CISO was a successful one. We devised a new security plan for him and prepared him to present it to management. He didn’t get the budget he was hoping for, but he got some of it. At that point, we could have turned our back on him and said we couldn’t help him if his budget was slashed. But we didn’t. We reworked the plan to fit it into the budget he had. We stretched the numbers and made it work. Going that extra mile when the large deal was not our primary objective proved successful, because that moment of grace resulted in multiple renewals and a fruitful relationship down the line.
Want to learn more about how CYE’s customer success adds value to organizational cybersecurity? Contact us to learn more.