Most people think of the coming enforcement of The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as apocalyptic for sales! While it is true that the GDPR will fundamentally change the way Sales work, contrary to popular belief, all it requires is an understanding of the implications of this law and finding out what’s possible and what’s not. And that’s where this blog comes in…

 

For me, sales used to be all about the automatic email marketing (Hallelujah automation) and to make my outbound emails perfect, personalized and pretty. The email would have one Call-To-Action (CTA) and move the leads in the funnel to the next steps such as demo, exploratory call or landing them to my specific page (a bit of narcissism never hurt nobody). Moreover, I was also a great cold caller. Like you know someone who could pass the gatekeeper and move to the hierarchy very easily. I used to love it. What else could be a better way of telling a customer that what they really need is my SaaS solution and should stop working manually! However, this is what we can’t do.

Assuming that we all know the basic tenets of GDPR, (in case you don’t, catch up here: https://www.eugdpr.org/) I have highlighted all the FAQs here. I’ll move forward to more practical steps. Obviously, DISCLAIMER: these are just my opinions and not legal advice in any manner. So, what is it that you cannot do as a salesman after May 2018?

  1. You cannot send a cold email! Basically, you just cannot send any kind of electronic message (SMS, MMS or email) to the customer who has not given consent to receive your email
  2. You are also prohibited from cold calling customers: even if you found their number on a public website or in their signature, you cannot cold call them! (Exception: Cold calling is not forbidden in the UK yet).
  3. You are also not allowed to put their details in your CRM system without their consent
  4. So, GDPR is all about CONSENT. But what does consent really mean here? (add more here). It means if you want to optimize your sales activities, you need to inform the customers exactly what you are doing and about the tools you will be using
  5. You cannot keep a prospective customer’s details in your CRM for an unlimited period of time so make a habit of periodic deletion:
  6. You cannot put the customer’s details in a sales automation tool and track their open rates, click rates or download rates without their consent
  7. You cannot scrape personal data via Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Product Hunt and send them targeted emails based on your scrapping
  8. Forget about buying third party lists…
  9. Or any other cheeky technology to find the email addresses and phone numbers of people
  10. Finally, you also cannot rely on the age-old opt-ins from your database!

This all sounds horrible – Right? As if the GDPR actually moves you away from doing proper business. Well, not exactly!

The GDPR was enforced to give consumers more control over their data and to enable them to exercise ‘privacy as a basic human right’. And this is a groundbreaking first step towards empowering our consumers.

So how should we carry out Sales then, you ask? Well, let me give you some practical advice.

Here are some of the ways I have adopted in sales:

LinkedIn is your friend:

  1. Use it heavily as a social selling tool!
  2. Moving a lead from LinkedIn: Once they accept your request, get their consent, inform them of the duration of retaining their data and what you will be doing with it. Put this in your CRM, and start selling!
  3. Use Inbound methods, let the leads come to you via your Inbound marketing channels such as Case Studies, Ebooks, Guides, blogs etc.
  4. You can still send LinkedIn Inmail via LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Events:

  1. Be great at event marketing. Research your prospect and personalize your message to them when you see them in an exhibition
  2. Attend targeted events where your customers are likely to be
  3. Use Meetup.com as a way to engage with the topic you specialize in
  4. Start building genuine relationships and network with people at these events
  5. Go to the events where your customers are exhibiting and try to talk to them. They’re open to listening to you and try to find a middle ground with them (of course, there’s the possibility that you might stumble upon a non-helpful sales person there but be reasonably persistent)

Thought Leadership:

  1. Organize topic related webinars: look out for pet peeves of your customers
  2. Use LinkedIn and Medium for sharing your opinion about their industry via blogging
  3. Use your company’s Inbound Strategies effectively to get a ‘double opt-in’ or a ‘Soft Opt-in’

Growth Hacking and Happy Customers:

  1. Obviously, you cannot reach customers in bulk messages, but you can still use referral tools, influencer marketing and other channels where customers still give you consent
  2. And the traditional word of mouth still works! Ask your happy customers to refer you to your next prospect. Ask your unhappy customers for feedback and forward it to your Dev Team. In fact, make an email for your customers to make them use as little effort as possible to provide you the referral and feedback.

Mailing:

  1. And of course, get ready to send mails via post! (the old school way). Under the GDPR, you can still personally send letters, postcards and mails to your prospective customers. I’d suggest to write it by hand and personalize it as far as possible for your customer. Who doesn’t like a beautifully, handwritten note?! (It is not scalable so refrain from spamming by mail)

Hope this helps you in navigating the post GDPR world of sales! Remember: it is a very solid step towards reducing the exploitation of private data and to genuinely connect with your customers. If you are a small or middle-sized business confused about what GDPR compliance means for you, get in touch with us here: help me

Embrace the change and comply!