GDPR for Sales – How GDPR affects Cold Emailing & Calling?

If your sales process relies heavily on cold emailing or calling prospects, then there is something crucial for you to know about the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

At the most basic, the GDPR changes the way outbound sales teams can collect and use personal data like name, ID, email addresses, and other details. So, whether you buy lists of leads to fill out your pipeline, automatically add new inbound contacts to your sales funnel or search prospects from social media platforms, the sales strategies that you have been using to turn prospects into customers are going to have to dramatically change.

There are a lot of questions about how the General Data Protection Regulation can affect salesforce. Here are the 10 biggest concerns that sales teams have about staying compliant while prospecting.

Q. What does the GDPR cover and do I need to care about it if I’m outside of Europe?

It provides EU citizens more control and transparency over who can use and store their personal data. This means using personal data to build contact sales leads, a company has new responsibilities around collecting and processing that data. Personal data includes names, phone numbers, IDS, email addresses, IP addresses, mobile device IDs, and even encrypted data.

For any sales team, personal data is crucial for outbound sales. Under this protocol, you cannot use personal data (like a phone number or email address) without the consent of the person to be contacted by you. This may sound like no more sending out cold prospecting emails, product demos, or quick catch-up without that person opting into receiving your messages. But here are a few things that you must understand about the General Data Protection Regulation.

GDPR is only for your sales prospecting towards citizens of the EU. You need to be concerned about the  guidelines if your business either:

  • Offers services or products to EU citizens.
  • Has an established presence in the EU.
  • Use their personal data in some other way like monitoring or profiling them.

You may still be able to contact prospects if you have legitimate interests. If your company’s legitimate interests are not overridden by the individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms, then you may be able to use the contact data. In a scenario, where a prospect sends a complaint about your outreach, the company should be able to argue that communication was legal. Therefore, it is crucial that you document your legitimate interest, make it clear in the communication, and offer an easy opt-out.

We are not sure about the final effects until the ePrivacy directive is finalized.  This protocol is just a starting point for new regulations around personal data. We are still unaware of the final impact that it may have on outbound sales and marketing, until another regulation. In other words, there is still more change ahead.

Q. How do I get consent from my prospects?

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, the only way your sales team can do any sort of outbound sales is if you have consent from the prospects to contact them. Therefore, the consent should be

  • Given freely
  • Transparent and specific about what it will be used for
  • Easy to withdraw at any time

To show that the consent was given freely, your lead has to openly click an opt-in to receive communications from you. This means that consent to receive sales emails or calls cannot be a requirement for using your services.

When a prospect gives you consent, you should be open and transparent about what you are using that consent for. For instance, if a prospect has given you their email to send them an eBook, it cannot be used to send sales emails or unrelated content.

Lastly, your prospects should have the ability to withdraw consent at any time, like unsubscribing the link on emails or some other way of contacting you to get off your list. So, if a prospect emails you and asks why you have their personal information, you should be able to say, “Here’s where we got your data. Here’s the link to our privacy notice and here’s the link to unsubscribe.”

Q. Do I need consent only for sending bulk emails? What about individual outreach?

Fundamentally, there is no legal difference between bulk emailing and one-to-one emailing, when it comes to cold outreach under this protocol. So, just-reaching-out emails need to have prior consent in order to be legal.

Q. How to build the outbound sales funnel under GDPR?

It might seem impossible to build an outbound sales funnel under this protocol, but there are still ways to grow your leads.

  • Focus more on content marketing and inbound sales: Moving forward, inbound marketing and sales are going to become more important. Organizations should take time to ensure that all the forms are set-up to properly gather personal data and get consent.
  • Buy relevant lists with documented consent: You can still buy lists of leads under this protocol, but you must ensure that those lists come with attached metadata explaining how and when each person gave consent. If you can prove that clients consented to receive emails from you, the list is fine to use.
  • Advertising on sites that are relevant to customers: While advertising and getting inbound sales leads is legal with this protocol, you just need to ensure that you gather and track consent whenever you get a new lead.

Q. How will GDPR affect cold calling?

If you are a part of all those sales teams that are already seeing success with cold calling, then you must be happy to know that cold calling isn’t as restricted under General Data Protection Regulation as cold emails. And if cold calling is not yet a part of your sales process, you might want to consider it now.

But you still need to identify and tell your prospect who you work for, why you’re calling, and how you got their information. You also need to ensure that you are only calling companies who have either consented to receive your calls or who aren’t registered on a no-call list. For this, you may have to look on a nation-by-nation basis.

While cold calls are not heavily scrutinized under this protocol, this will probably change when the ePrivacy Regulation finalizes next year. According to the proposed Regulation, unsolicited direct marketing by any means like SMS, email, or automated calling machines will be prohibited unless direct consent is given.

GDPR may be bringing some major changes to the way outbound sales teams work. Don’t think of it as something meant to kill the outbound sales process. Rather, it is a shift in the way you think about who your ideal customer is and how to get in touch with them.

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