Cybersecurity software is any computer program designed to help companies, government organizations, and other entities with information security. It protects them against cyber-attacks and data breaches from spammers and hackers who may be trying to steal sensitive information or disrupt service.
As attack techniques and the criminals enacting them become more sophisticated, there’s a growing demand for cybersecurity software and the reps who sell it.
In this article, we’ll help you determine if cybersecurity software sales is a job you’d thrive at and enjoy. You’ll learn what it’s like to sell cybersecurity software, how much you can earn, some trends in the industry, and a few of the best tech companies hiring in the space.
What it’s Like to Work in Cybersecurity Software Sales
Like in any tech sales job, you’re going to spend the bulk of your time interacting with potential buyers and moving them through the sales process. If you’re a BDR, that means cold calling, cold emailing, qualifying, and securing a meeting between the buyer and an AE.
If you’re an AE, that means taking the prospect the rest of the way, giving them demos, presentations, sales pitches, contract negotiations, and anything they need to feel comfortable making the purchase.
Because this field is so technically challenging, there are usually Sales Engineers involved in the process. If you hold that position, you’ll conduct technical discoveries and find the right product fit for the business’s information system needs. You’ll also handle technical questions the AE needs help answering.
In cybersecurity sales, you’ll likely be selling to IT Directors or CEOs and VPs if you’re selling to smaller businesses without an IT staff. Regardless, since the risk is so high of purchasing faulty software, executives will likely be involved in the decision-making process, even if they’re lacking technical acumen. So you’re going to have to adjust your language to meet their level of comprehension.
Cybersecurity Software Sales Compensation
Cybersecurity software sales reps have a base salary of $104,073 per year on average, according to ZipRecruiter.
Image via ZipRecruiter
Top earners, in the 90th percentile, earn an average base salary of $159,000 per year.
Many cybersecurity software sales roles are commission-based, meaning reps have the opportunity to earn around double their base salary if they hit quota. Companies usually do a 50:50 split of base and commissions for earnings.
Although, Sales Engineers, which are popular positions in cybersecurity, often receive a ratio that is higher in base than the commission, perhaps 70:30.
To get a better sense of what sales reps are making in cybersecurity, let’s check out the average earnings for sales reps at a few of the top cybersecurity software companies, using Glassdoor’s data:
- McAfee: Sales Engineers earn around $182,000 per year and Account Managers earn around $86,000.
- CA Technologies: Sales Executives here earn just shy of $220,000 per year on average.
- Cisco Systems: Account Executives bring in about $140,000 per year and Account Managers earn $185,000.
Among all software sub-industries, cybersecurity seems to contain some of the highest-earning individuals and top-paying companies.
How to Succeed in Cybersecurity Software Sales
Unfortunately, the competition is steep in cybersecurity sales. Buyers are getting hit by numerous vendors, so you have to try extra hard to stand out from the crowd. Let’s learn how.
Here are some tips for succeeding in cybersecurity sales:
Build a Strong Network
One of the best ways to open a sales opportunity in this industry is through a referral. Buyers are spammed by competitors with emails and cold calls, so this can help you stand out.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you routinely tap into your customer base to find recommendations and make an effort to build your relationships with industry members by attending networking events. You can also connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn.
Position Yourself as an Educator and Advisor
It’s important that you take advantage of networks like LinkedIn to position yourself as an expert in the field. That’s how you get potential buyers to trust you. To come across as an educator, try writing and publishing your own articles covering cybersecurity trends, issues, and solutions on LinkedIn.
People will start to recognize you as an expert and want to work with you. Once you get meetings, show them you truly are an advisor by asking them a lot of good questions to get to the root of their issue before you prescribe any solutions.
Be Honest About Results
No cybersecurity software can promise to protect against 100% of attacks. It’s not possible, and prospects will see right through the claim. Instead, be upfront about your results, show them how your product protects them from specific attacks, and be honest about what it can’t solve.
Get Exposure to Different Target Industries
Different industries have different compliance requirements and regulations. So get exposure to as many industries as possible during your earliest months on the job, and ask questions to your prospects to learn about each industry’s common needs and challenges.
Trends in Cybersecurity
One of the best ways to come across as an expert and build trust with prospects is by talking with them about industry trends. This technique will also help you find other needs that the prospect may not know they have. For instance, if there’s a new type of phishing scam, you’re providing them value by bringing the danger to their attention and offering a fix.
Below are some trends in the cybersecurity industry:
- Increasing Cybercrime Costs: According to McKinsey’s report, there’s a 15% average rise year over year in costs related to cybercrime, meaning companies will have to take it even more seriously.
- Job Openings Increasing: According to the same report, there are as of March 2022 3.5 million cybersecurity positions open nationwide. Searching the web, we found a lot of open sales positions in this space.
- More Sophisticated Attacks: Cybercriminals are now using AI and machine learning to launch their attacks, meaning cybersecurity tech must match their sophistication.
- Companies Have More Data to Protect: Businesses are collecting tons of financial, personal, and social data about their customers, meaning cybercriminals have more to steal, and companies need to invest more in cybersecurity.
- Cybersecurity Tech is Outpacing Talent: Companies are lacking expertise, talent, and knowledge in cybersecurity and this shortage is growing. That means those who do take the time to learn the software and industry will be valued and receive high payment.
If you’re interested in learning more about cybersecurity today and in the future, check out Kaspersky's article on the top ten cybersecurity trends. Reading more about the industry will inform you about whether you find the tech, rules, strategies, and issues interesting enough to pursue a sales career in the field.
The 3 Best Cybersecurity Software Companies Hiring
Let’s go over three of the biggest and highest-paying cybersecurity companies out there for aspiring software salespeople.
IBM Security offers a wide array of cybersecurity software solutions to enterprise companies. Though there’s no data for the earnings of IBM security sales professionals, there is data for the earnings of IBM salespeople, which likely won’t differ too much from the former.
Sales Representatives at IBM earn an average of about $131,000 per year, with about 60k coming from the commission. Their AEs earn a bit more at $150,000 per year.
The company is not only well-paying, but also a great place to work, with 83% of 72,000 former and current employees saying they’d recommend working there to a friend, and 88% approving of the CEO.
Image via Glassdoor
Cisco is a multinational technology company that, among other tech solutions, sells cybersecurity software to businesses. Their Account Executives earn about $140,000 per year and Account Managers earn around $185,000.
The company also has a lot of people working under the job title of Customer Support Engineer. They respond to technical issues from customers and provide answers, guidance, and solutions.
Although this isn’t sales in the general sense, it pays well, at $130,000 per year (almost all of it is base salary), and is a great way to get your foot in the door and get a higher paying sales position later on.
As a place to work, Cisco Systems has a great 4.3 rating on Glassdoor, and 93% of its current and former employees who filled out surveys approve of the CEO, Chuck Robbins. Employees often cite work-from-home opportunities as a big benefit of working there.
Image via Glassdoor
CyberArk is an information security company that focuses on helping companies in the financial services, healthcare, energy, and retail industries. Their Account Executives average a whopping $196,000 per year, 100k of which is a base salary. And their Sales Engineers bring home an average of $140,000.
Working there seems to be a great experience according to current and former employees on Glassdoor. The company has a rating of 4.3 as a place to work and a 94% CEO approval rating. It’s also filled with experienced individuals, making it a great place to find a sales mentor or at least learn a lot about the ins and outs of cybersecurity.
Image via Glassdoor
Is Cybersecurity Software Sales Right for You?
If you like the idea of being extremely well-compensated, valued in the marketplace, and working in an industry that is on the cutting edge of technology, cybersecurity may be for you. It’s a growing industry and needs salespeople willing to learn the ropes. Check out the Salestrax job board for some cybersecurity software sales positions.