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Are you asking, how can you continue to prospect for new sales without breaking the new General Data Protecting Regulations (GDPR)?

From May 2018, the way you used to prospect will have received a major update, due to the EU data protection regulation. Failure to comply with GDPR can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater. Will GDPR affect your sales team?

If you still rely on purchased leads to fill up the sales pipeline, or if you automatically add business card contact data to mailing lists and ask existing customers for referrals and recommendations, then GDPR has an impact on you and your business.

This is because GDPR provides EU citizens with greater control over personal data regardless of where the data is processed. Such personal data is in several forms – such as name, email, phone number, and interests, as well as IP address, social media posts, bank details, and medical information.

The resolution to this is to request and obtain permission from customers and prospects to collect, store, and use personal data, as well as clearly to outline the company privacy statement. Under GDPR, individuals have the right to be informed about what data you collect, why you are collecting it, and how you intend to use it.

So, what does this mean for sales prospecting?

Here are three key points you can adopt:

  1. Stop automated emails to prospect lists without getting their permission first.
  2. If this is the first contact with a prospect, then you will need to indicate that you have tried to contact them by phone prior to emailing them.

    That being said, you can continue to send cold sales emails to prospects, if the email is sent to an individual and not to a group of recipients. You will need to include a link to your privacy statement explaining why you are contacting them in the first place (i.e. you have a legitimate interest). Be cautious about purchased lead lists.

    If you acquire leads that contain personal data from third-parties, they will need to have consent to share that information with you. But you will also be required to get specific consent to use the email addresses on the list – unless they have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.

  3. Leverage social media platforms.
  4. The new legislation does not stop sales agents finding and connecting with potential customers on social media, be it for a recommendation, or for reaching out to new prospects directly.

    Examples include Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, which can help to get the discussion underway. Once connected, consent must be given for future emailing contact.

  5. Pick up the phone.
  6. This is the most effective way to build new relationships with potential customers, as this approach – cold calling – is not under the same regulation as the GDPR. Once connected with a new prospect, you will need to have their consent to add their information to your CRM database – before any promotional emails can be sent.

    You can formally record their consent by sending an email summarising the discussion and establishing consent for future email contact.

    Other options to consider are networking events and asking customers for referrals, reaching out to their contacts on your behalf. Once again, if there is agreement to partner, this requires their consent for future prospecting emails.

The main message to take away from our article is that GDPR is not about being restrictive. Instead, the discipline it introduces around the handling of client and prospect data, combined with a more personal approach to building networks – over the phone and through social media – will enable you to build deeper and more targeted relationships.

If you find GDPR challenging, talk to us. We can guide you through the maze.