For AJ Yawn, Co-Founder and CEO of ByteChek, it was important to take a new and modern approach to compliance and change the narrative around cybersecurity when launching his startup. His mission: Make compliance suck less!
AJ started his cybersecurity career in the US army and after earning the rank of Captain, moved on to a well established compliance consulting firm. Having experienced first-hand how difficult, time-consuming, and expensive the compliance journey could be — he was passionate about finding a more enjoyable way to sell and deliver these complex services.
Before launching ByteChek, AJ sought out a tool that would tighten up the closing process and allow the team to infuse personality into the sales cycle to align with their unique positioning in the market.
“I knew we were going to be small and I knew we were going to be scrappy. So I needed to think about how we could optimize every part of the company...and that included the proposal process.”
Previously painful proposal process
AJ was previously spending 25 hours a week on sales calls and it would take 4-6 weeks to turn around a proposal after the initial call which was unfortunately, fairly standard for this space. Even though it’s expected that cybersecurity sales cycles are generally longer and more of a journey, timing still played a huge factor when it came to winning or losing the deal. Missing the mark by a day could easily cost the close.
By the time proposals were ready to go to the prospect, they were incredibly lengthy and full of daunting details. They were boring, hardly engaging, and there was nothing that differentiated the documents from the competition. Not to mention, the process to get to that point was frustrating because there was no insight into the workflow or control over the content, details, or documents. Tools like powerpoint, PDFs, and spreadsheets were commonly being used to manage the close.
“Compliance proposals are boring! Especially when you’re using old school powerpoints or PDFs. I’ve seen competitor’s sales proposals that are just rows and rows of excel columns and I couldn’t imagine presenting it that way but it’s more common than you think.”
Because documents are so lengthy it leaves a lot of room for error and oversights. For AJ, this previously happened a lot on sections like the MSA and T&C’s as the team would be comparing different versions of PDFs trying to match up requested changes. It made it difficult to track and collaborate on any updates or negotiations.
When it came time to find a tool he could use for the new firm, it was critical that it supported workflow automation, collaboration, content management, and their friendly ByteChek brand.
“Our brand is really friendly. It's outgoing and it’s unique for this industry. We want our proposals to reflect the same thing.”
As a fan of automation and integrated tech, AJ was excited to see Proposify had a central place to collaborate with the team and prospects on their deal documents, integrate with their CRM (Hubspot) and task tracking tool (Monday.com), and could bring personalization to their proposals.
ByteChek now feels primed with the tools they need as an agile and fast moving startup to communicate quickly, collaborate easily, and preserve their brand. Before Proposify it was hard to know what was going on and where things stood with the prospect and deal but now there is huge value in having the visibility and data driven insights at all stages of the closing process.
“From a visibility standpoint, it’s amazing. With the Hubspot and Monday.com integrations, everyone knows what’s going on and we have all this automation to move things forward quickly while keeping the details accurate and in sync.”
Proposify has not only provided the ByteChek team with the ability to land deals but also easily expand them. Giving prospects the ability to upsell themselves by setting prices as optional and offering discounts for longer engagements, means they can extend the customer journey while making it more financially advantageous on both sides. And it can all be done within the proposal and doesn’t require the typical back and forth offline negotiations.
With Proposify now fully integrated into the closing process, AJ is able to focus more on his role as founder of ByteChek and see his vision of removing complexity from compliance come to light.
"I couldn't imagine doing sales at this size and velocity. With how fast things move and how limited my time is as CEO, if we weren't using Proposify and still doing it the old school way, things would fall through the cracks. I would probably be spending another 10 to 15 hours a week on sales.”
A modernized sales process
The ByteChek team now has a goal to turn around proposals in 24 hours after the sales call and with Proposify they have hit that target consistently and with ease. The process certainly looks a lot different than it used to and may actually surprise others in the industry. Although, AJ hopes the competition keeps up with the old school methods so they can leverage their new found advantage.
“If anybody in the cybersecurity consulting industry ends up reading this case study, they're gonna think this is crazy because it takes six weeks to get proposals out normally. But with Proposify it’s faster and so much easier.”
With everything being managed within Proposify, AJ can quickly jump into the tool at any time to view the deal documents with full insight into the process and simply add a few finishing touches. His confidence in the details has increased significantly and the team is enabled to build proposals quickly and cohesively with templates that have pre-approved content and pricing.
“Since the launch of Proposify we can now fire off 10-15 proposals a week. And they’re not small proposals. They’re quite robust! Almost 30 pages. It’s just so fast and it’s what we need to deliver on our core value of decisive action.”
AJ is also a fan of adding personalization to his proposals and ensuring they are no longer bland and boring documents that cause prospects to glaze over when reviewing. As a best practice, he creates a demo video for each deal to make it feel more authentic and infuses the outgoing ByteChek brand in the design.
But what does that mean for ByteChek’s customers? Well, the company prides themselves on being very responsive and ensuring their friendliness is reflected at every stage of the sales process. Using tools like Proposify to modernize the closing process has allowed them to follow through on their goal of reducing the pressure and complexity of compliance. One ByteChek customer said the whole sales experience felt cohesive from the scoping through sales to the engagement within the platform. It felt easy!
Success as a sales leader
As a sales leader and CEO, AJ relies on visibility and control across the entire sales cycle to ensure his time is spent wisely and that his modern take on compliance comes across clearly and consistently. Being addicted to automation, is a driver for finding the right tools to bring into his tech stack and ensure he is focused on the right tasks and outcomes.
“As the CEO, I have to be deeply involved in everything and Proposify makes me feel like I'm able to work on the stuff that actually matters.”
With Proposify, AJ is confident that deals have the same voice no matter who is pulling them together and he can count on the details being accurate and in sync with their CRM. Having tools that work together has allowed him to become a more effective leader and seller. He no longer has to worry about formatting, design, graphics, or the recurring deal details. These are all locked in with pre-approved templates, content library, and CRM integration.
“We realized at one point that the contact’s job title wasn’t pulling in automatically so we just set that up with a variable and we can be confident that it will be updated every time now.”
And all that automation adds up, not only for the business but customers. AJ believes that customers and companies expect more from their business and this industry and the old school way is just that...old and outdated. So as he embraces a new approach to cybersecurity and compliance, he is thrilled to have made such big strides in delivering a more enjoyable and expedient customer experience. And his advice for others...
"My advice for any entrepreneur or CEO starting a company is to seek out tools like Proposify because it's gonna make your job a lot easier, especially as a software company. It’s a true product for SaaS companies."