Breaking into a New Market: Cloud Security Alliance Grows its Membership
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a global, not-for-profit organization that promotes the use of best practices for providing security within cloud computing. Led by a broad coalition of industry practitioners, corporations, associations, and other key stakeholders, CSA is a membership organization that focuses on research, education, awareness, and certification of both individuals and corporations on secure cloud computing.
Arguably the largest information security community in the world, CSA members can access expert or analyst services, become certified in a number of areas related to cloud security, attend conferences, and collaborate with peers. Since its inception in 2008, CSA has successfully and rapidly grown its membership base to over 150 members. These members—including some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Amazon, Cisco, Deloitte, Google, and Microsoft—have primarily been technology or solution providers, essentially the creators of cloud computing.
In December 2012, CSA partnered with Mansfield Sales Partners to expand its membership to include the other side of the cloud equation—large enterprise users of cloud computing.
The Executive team at CSA quickly determined that engaging with the enterprise user community required a different sales approach. Whereas solution providers were familiar with CSA’s mission and value proposition, enterprise consumers of cloud computing did not have the same level of awareness. CSA realized that they needed the right partner to facilitate introductions and to convey the benefits and value of a membership for their team; they wanted to develop an outbound sales model aimed at this target market.
The alliance considered a number of different options to reach the user community and ultimately decided to partner with Mansfield Sales Partners (Mansfield) for two primary reasons. First, Mansfield has extensive experience in the information security industry, an industry based on relationships and trust. Second, through the strategic sales partnership, CSA was able to immediately leverage the Mansfield team’s years of expertise in enterprise sales and their breadth of contacts.
“Mansfield was able to penetrate this new market because they know enterprise users have goals and requirements that are different from those of CSA’s traditional members,” explains John Howie, Chief Operating Officer, CSA. “We hired them for their expertise in this area.”
Through a structured, collaborative approach with CSA, Mansfield developed a full-service sales model, which included finding qualified sales opportunities, building pipeline in CSA’s target market, and closing deals.
The first thing Mansfield did was cement the partnership with CSA, taking the time to understand the organization and the value it brings to its members. They then worked with CSA to determine the most attractive markets and actual prospects to target. Throughout the early phases of the sales process, Mansfield and CSA leveraged resources from both organizations to talk openly with prospects to (1) make sure they understood the market impact of CSA’s offerings to cloud computing users and (2) ensure the messages they were bringing to the marketplace resonated with the audience.
“Collaboration has been key to the success of the sales partnership,” says Jim Reavis, Executive Director of CSA. He explains that Mansfield and CSA meet weekly to discuss the market and the outreach activities, as well as to analyze where the sales approach is and is not working. “Because Mansfield scrutinizes their outreach and sales activities, the sales team is able to focus on what is important to us, address our concerns, and adjust on the fly.”
This sales approach has delivered results. CSA credits Mansfield for reaching out to prospects, bringing in qualified leads, closing key deals, and bringing on board new Corporate Enterprise members who are exactly the types of prospects CSA was targeting.
“We have seen some good strategic lighthouse types of accounts that have been closed as a result of the partnership with Mansfield,” Reavis adds. “And closed business is the bottom line.”
Because cloud computing is still in its infancy, CSA is not predicting exactly how its organization will grow in the long term. In the foreseeable future, though, CSA sees a long runway of opportunities in the enterprise user membership and plans to continue to work with Mansfield to grow this market to maturity.