How to Drive 30% Growth During a Pandemic: A Sales Veteran’s Take

As the old sales adage goes: “A crisis brings along opportunities as well.”

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that one should take advantage of others’ weaknesses or troubles. Quite the opposite. Instead, this alludes to the notion of putting aside paradigms and forgetting what you “know” – this is a time for creativity, experimentation, decision, and action. It’s a time when one must consider “what could I change and improve in order to see success with great uncertainty laid upon me by the COVID-19 pandemic?”

As a business with global operations, Portnox was not immune to this global pandemic. But as a cybersecurity technology vendor delivering network access control (NAC) solutions and competing with tech giants like Cisco, HP), we knew our unique value proposition would remain product-centric. Portnox has two products:

  1. Portnox CORE: our legacy on-prem NAC solution
  2. Portnox CLEAR: our cloud-delivered NAC-as-a-Service solution

Once the COVID-19 pandemic entered our lives, most companies required their employees to work from home. As we’ve discussed in detail in a series of recent blog posts, working from home (or remotely, in general) poses a variety of new challenges for CISOs and their teams. In particular, one new question that’s arisen is: how should companies provide secure access to their remote employees? Most organizations, regardless of size or industry, found themselves in uncharted territory. To date, most did not have a solution to effectively enable secure remote access, particularly at scale.

Cybersecurity vendors and their dedicated trade publications immediately pivoted and flooded the digital airways with webinars, eBooks, white papers, research, and more on how to secure remote access via VPN, virtual desktops, and beyond. It seems like everywhere you turn – Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – you’re seeing this message running on all cylinders. There’s no escaping it – Check Point, Palo Alto, Cisco, VMWare, and every other vendor (Portnox included) is out there touting their remote access solutions.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Portnox did its best to align itself with these evolving trends. We’ve learned quickly that standing out in such a hyper-focused and saturated market is no easy task.

Given the challenge of competing head-to-head with some of the world’s largest cybersecurity technology vendors,  we paused and revisited our origin story. As I mentioned above, we have two products at Portnox. During the current crisis, this has created new opportunities for us. For the first time, we now had the chance to pursue two avenues of business:

  1. We could continue working with companies to solve their remote access needs with our cloud-delivered NAC-as-a-Service
  2. We could also work with organizations to enhance their security controllers since their corporate networks were effectively empty, allowing for changes to be made without fear of business disruption

As such, we shifted focus from region to region as the pandemic spread to different parts of the world. For instance, when Italy went into lockdown, we focused our efforts on Africa and vice versa. From there, we move on to Russia, and so on and so forth.

We took it upon ourselves to find out who we could effectively work with at different points in time. We were sure to remind ourselves that, for example, it doesn’t make sense to push an on-prem solution in a region where people were subject to total lockdown. This common-sense thinking went a long way.

By now, the writing is on the wall – it’s not always in your best interest to follow the herd. Adopting a focused, small team mindset during the pandemic gave the Portnox sales team a big advantage. In one sense, it’s a matter of what you can do today for your partners, prospects, and customers, without worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

This approach yielded great results for us. In EMEA, our year-over-year H1 sales grew by 30%!

But there’s no rest for the weary. H2 is here, and it’s time to get back to work.