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Cut the Bull & Focus to Speed Up the Cybersecurity Buying Process | Tal Arad

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Cybersecurity buyers do not have a lot of time to review long RFPs with hundreds of pages.

Instead, provide technical diagrams, high-level explanations, and a few slides that provide a focused message.

Buyers are going to read as little as possible to make a decision.

No one's gonna read a hundred of pages.

They don't have the time and the capacity.

No one can digest that.

So cut the bullshit and provide as much focused information as possible.

That will really help everyone make a decision.

Guest at a Glance

💡 Name: Tal Arad

💡 What he does: Tal is the Global CISO and Head of Global Infrastructure at Carlsberg Group, the third largest beer manufacturer in the world.

💡 Where to find Tal: LinkedIn

Episode Insights:

Tal’s goal:

  • On a day-to-day basis, Tal’s goal is to make sure everything is safe and to limit any attempt to “stop the beer.”

  • Also, to try to make it as painless as possible for the user community and for the organization, especially since he wears the second hat of Head of Infrastructure.

“I also feel the pain that my security hat is causing to the other side.”

  • To make his environment as least appealing as possible for the attacker.

“If I'm not already breached, and I'm not saying we are breached, but if not, then we will be breached at some point, right? You can't avoid it. That's the normal paradigm today within the security industry, at least with more mature organizations. You can't stop attackers.

If the attacker is persistent enough and good enough, they'll go in. So, what we are trying to do is just make sure that even if they go in, they won't get very far, at least not without putting in so much effort that the whole access becomes unappealing to them.”

Tal’s motivation for working in cybersecurity:

“There are a lot of people saying that you can't really do security without really believing in it because it's quite a brutal field.

You're going to get hit by never-ending problems. You're going to be away 24/7 and most people are not going to like you for that.

So, you really need to believe that you're doing something good for the company that you work for, for the organization, for yourself, and for your team as well. I've been doing this for a while and I think it's mostly because I like it.

I feel that I'm doing something that matters and it also keeps me challenged all the time because it's never-ending. There’s always something new or something evil coming around the corner.”

What Tal hates most about the cybersecurity industry:

The gatekeeping from some security practitioners towards those wanting to break into the cybersecurity industry.

There’s a “certain generation of security practitioners that seems to think that you need to have 20 years experience, five different certifications, and about three advanced degrees before you are allowed to apply for a first-year SOC analyst job.

It seems like it's kind of become the Valhalla of IT - that you have to be the most experienced person in everything.

That really pisses me off because, on the one hand, we keep complaining that we have zero people. On the other hand, we do everything possible to actually stop new people from coming into the industry or moving from other parts of IT.”

Tal’s bleeding-neck challenge:

Too many moving parts in complexity.

“Carlsberg is a company that grows inorganically. We do a lot of acquisitions and then you end up a few years after the fact with so many variations in what you need to secure.

I think any big enterprise that goes through acquisitions will have the same pain with a few exceptions, like Microsoft and Salesforce which have all the money in the world to make this a bit easier for them.”

Triggers to evaluate a new security technology:

Tal and his team want to find quick ways to complete fundamental tasks so they can move away from traditional ways of doing things, like endpoint protection, incident response, and SIEM, to smarter, more sophisticated ways of doing things.

“We want to have visibility almost instantaneously and we want to have all the solutions we have talking with other solutions. So, you'll have a real complete ecosystem"

Once Tal and his team got to the point in their five-year roadmap where they got the fundamentals done, they became interested in the more advanced stuff, like hygiene management.

Reducing friction to speed up the cybersecurity buying process

Cybersecurity buyers do not have a lot of time to review long RFPs with hundreds of pages.

Instead, provide technical diagrams, high-level explanations, and a few slides that provide a focused message.

“We're going to read as little as possible to make a decision. No one's gonna read a hundred pages. We don't have the time. We don't have the capacity. No one can digest that. So cut the bullshit and provide as much focused information as possible - that will really help everyone to make a decision.”

When you’re giving presentations, bring in the people that will actually deliver the project and stay with the client to present it.

“It was clear for us from the get-go that the people giving the presentation are the ones that will actually carry out the project. And they were impressive.

We had other companies that brought 20 partners to the presentation and, you know, we've been around the industry for a while.

It's clear to everyone that not a single one of them will stay once the project will start.”

How Tal separates the wheat from the chaff among vendors, solutions, and technologies:

  • Gut feeling

“We've heard so many pitches. We can already identify from the beginning if someone is trying to sell something that doesn't work.

If you're saying something that is too good to be true, it probably is.

If we ask you a technical question and you come back and say, "oh, that's a really good question. I'll ask my presales” then no, you're not gonna pass the first hurdle.”

  • Having a network of colleagues

“I feel a bit sorry for new vendors that don't have the network or the people that know them. It's going to be much more difficult for them to grow. But it helps.

Then I can ask around the industry with peers and with colleagues and say, “have you heard about them, how are they working, are they giving you any trouble? Do they actually give you real value?”

  • Connecting with ecosystems

“We kind of moved in the last few years from having 50 different solutions and none of them are talking with each other.

If I buy something, it needs to be able to talk with the rest of my environment, not necessarily with everything, but at least with the kind of cornerstones.

It needs to be able to communicate with and give me not just its own value, but also value to other systems to overall enrich the security ecosystem.”

What is innovative and new to Tal?

  • Easy deployment and getting real value from day one.

“I'm just thinking in the past, when you had to deploy new a solution, it's months of change boards and plans and rollbacks and people losing access to this and that, and it was a nightmare.

So, the newer generation of solutions, in many cases, it's done by people that felt the pain by themselves and they know how to do it in a way that makes it easier.”

  • Reporting capabilities

“New vendors understand that the security organization is flooded by so much data. If you don't really flag exactly the five things you need to do this week, it's wasted.

I'm not gonna buy something that will give me a lot of data, but I can't actually understand what I need to do next.”

Bonus recommendation to stand out:

  • Reach out to natural partners in terms of vendors to enrich each other.

“It maybe sounds a bit counterintuitive because you are competing right against other vendors, but if a BAS solution can talk with my MDR and my cloud security solution, they can only enrich each other.

I think that that's a slam dunk because that means that I'm getting the instant benefit, not just from that solution, but for anything else. The whole system grows.”

Cardinal rules vendors, marketers, and sellers are breaking:

  • Cold calling and cold email. Particularly, out of the blue, repetitive emails.

“Have you seen my email? Have you seen my email? HAVE YOU SEEN MY EMAIL? Are you busy? Have you seen my email?”

  • Sending very generic information that doesn't fit a need or not really trying to understand what is Tal is trying to do or what he needs.

“Basically just trying to push without any context.”

Why cold calling does not work.

Tal spends most of his day in meetings, so he does not have the time to pick up the phone or have conversations.

According to Tal, the phone calls go something like this:

Vendor: Hi, is this Tal? I heard you are involved with the security of Carlsberg.”

Tal: You can say that I'm involved. Yes. What can I do for you?

Vendor: Uh, I'm calling from company X and Y and I want to talk with you about your cybersecurity strategy.

“I'm not going to discuss anything about my security with someone I don't know and I have no relationship with.

So, it's very uncommon for me to actually do anything or even pick up a phone that I don’t recognize.”

Cold email isn’t lost if you give context relevant to your buyer

Rather than send me an email saying:

“We do this and this and this, let's talk tomorrow.”


“I see that you are running this and this technology. I think you run this technology. I know that you have manufacturing facilities. We think we might be relevant to you. And if it's okay, we'll be happy to have a conversation and just let us know.”

Rather than:

“Do you have time tomorrow at 2:00 PM?”

“Just assume that the guy or the girl you are trying to talk to is just busy.

I don't have the time to necessarily respond back to you immediately or at all.

And the more understanding you have of my business, my needs, and maybe also my experience, that might actually work.”

One thing a vendor has done that has made Tal feel good:

An MDR vendor won an RFP and they did everything possible for the project and for Tal to succeed.

“They were so excited by the fact that we were going to work together, that they did everything possible for this to actually succeed. We just love working with them.

They're absolutely a hundred percent honest with us. We never got the feeling that they're trying to sell something for the sake of selling.

If they cannot do something, they will tell us we're not doing that because this is not something which we can do, and it will not bring you any benefit. We trust their opinion.

Good honest relationships have to continue throughout the lifecycle because if you get to year four of the contract and nothing is working more, no one's going to remember the honeymoon first year.”

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