Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Qualifying Software Sales Leads Should Really Uncover Bad Security Practices

More experts in the field of business software are saying the security issues aren't necessarily the fault of any application or hardware. More than half the time, there will always room for human error. More specifically, it's errors within security practices. Your sales leads should do everything to help sales uncover these flaws because they can still undermine the work and quality of software systems like CRM.

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Now securing CRM ranks very high in terms of priority. This is because the database within such a system contains sensitive information on customers that could be risky if they were leaked into the public (from passwords to even credit card information). And according to Ars Technica, passwords are already weakening not because of just software alone but because of bad security habits. Your sales leads should expose these habits or at least give a hint to your salespeople so that they can avert disasters during software implementation (and beyond).

The article cites Sean Brooks, a Program Associate at CDT. Here's one of his brief quotes on declining password habits:

'The danger of weak password habits is becoming increasingly well-recognized,' said Brooks, who at the time blogged about the warnings as the Program Associate for the Center for Democracy and Technology. The warnings, he told me, 'show [that] these companies understand how a security breach outside their systems can create a vulnerability within their networks.'”

It is further hinted in the article that the problem's just getting worse:

The ancient art of password cracking has advanced further in the past five years than it did in the previous several decades combined. At the same time, the dangerous practice of password reuse has surged. The result: security provided by the average password in 2012 has never been weaker.”

Generating sales leads isn't just about marketing and attracting interest. It's about getting information on the market (both on a general and an individual level) so as to help your company and your salespeople offer the right solution. And if articles like this mean anything, it could take more than your R&D department to provide countermeasures that protect CRM data. You shouldn't ignore the possibility of simple human error and bad security practices.

On that note, here are some things that your marketers can do to help determine the severity of bad practices. If you don't have the means yourself, you should at least outsource them:

  • Surveys – Before marketing directly, ask feedback from your market community. Pose questions that aren't just about the software but their habits in accessing its data, how passwords are created, how they're changed etc.

  • Events – You can organize webinars that increase awareness of common bad practices. You can also offer software appointments to customers who'd want your help implementing your suggestions.

  • Website information – Tips and FAQs can be placed on your website regarding security practices. They can also contain questionnaires that help customers check themselves for problems.

Bad security practices could expose more vulnerabilities than flaws in the software itself. Your CRM software leads shouldn't neglect to check if potential problems may not be inside the computers but in the organizations using them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Clumsy Customer Support Can Affect Software Lead Generation

There's no question that hacking is a constant and major threat to anyone in the business IT industry. Software lead generation campaigns should usually make a point to learn about any security concerns that a prospect has before completely qualifying them or setting software appointments.

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However, are you aware that even customer support and not just software alone could play a role in countering hacking attempts?

In case you still haven't heard, Wired just recently reported on a devastating hack on one of its journalists Mat Honan. In this article written by Honan himself, he admits to making some mistakes of his own. On the other hand, he also makes references to security flaws of Apple and Amazon, the major companies that were involved. More specifically, these flaws were in fact found within customer support. And if your customer support has made the same sloppy mistakes, you might just be compromising the integrity of security when you're marketing for software lead generation.

Now, just what exactly were these mistakes?

Lax Call Center Agents

One of the flaws was the lax attitude of the agents who received calls during the time that the hacking took place.

At 4:33 p.m., according to Apple’s tech support records, someone called AppleCare claiming to be me. Apple says the caller reported that he couldn’t get into his .Me e-mail — which, of course was my .Me e-mail.

In response, Apple issued a temporary password. It did this despite the caller’s inability to answer security questions I had set up. And it did this after the hacker supplied only two pieces of information that anyone with an internet connection and a phone can discover.”

Seeing as how customer support calls are usually received in a call center (be it outsourced or in-house), agents in charge of receiving such calls shouldn't be lax when it comes to protocol. Your customer support department should be very strict in following security policies when dealing with callers. Just because software security isn't lax doesn't mean your agents should. Both have to compliment each other.

Time Consuming

Perhaps what's more embarrassing was when the real Honan made a call right after discovering he was hacked.

I spent an hour and a half talking to AppleCare. One of the reasons it took me so long to get anything resolved with Apple during my initial phone call was because I couldn’t answer the security questions it had on file for me. It turned out there’s a good reason for that. Perhaps an hour or so into the call, the Apple representative on the line said 'Mr. Herman, I….'

'Wait. What did you call me?'

'Mr. Herman?'

'My name is Honan.'

Apple had been looking at the wrong account all along.”

An hour and a half sounds pretty long by B2C standards. How much worse do you think it could've been if the same happened when your B2B customer called about problems, say with your cloud-based CRM? You might end up needing to look for more new CRM software leads because they stopped subscribing to your cloud.

Aside from adherence to security policies, your call center support shouldn't waste time making such simple mistakes. If they can't even remember something as basic as a name, how much worse when you get into the more technical details of the software problem?

Software security features aren't the only thing you need to concern yourself with when marketing your B2B software. Such tight and rigid features are moot if your customer support is the complete opposite of it in terms of their own security.
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