You Don’t Need to be Meta to Carry GDPR Risk

As the General Data Protection Regulation Framework (GDPR) nears its fifth birthday, Ireland has given Meta Platforms a gift that it will keep on giving.  

As reported in Bloomberg earlier today, the European Union (EU), via the Republic of Ireland (where Meta Europe is domiciled)  fined Meta Platforms Inc. a record-breaking €1.2 billion for failing to shield user data from American security services. The fine follows a protracted controversy over US data protection policies. According to the Irish Data Protection Commission, the risks to people’s fundamental rights and freedoms were not effectively addressed by Meta’s data transfers to the US. In addition to the penalty, Meta has been given a deadline to stop processing and storing transferred personal data illegally in the US, as well as to stop all future data transfers to the US.

With regard to major infractions, the GDPR has given EU regulators extensive authority to levy fines of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue. As most of the market’s major internet and data vendors consider Dublin their European HQ, the Irish Data Protection Commission has come under fire for taking the primary role in privacy regulation for big internet companies having a presence in Ireland..

Exploring the implications of user consent and data access in contemporary advertising channels, in this article we discuss the  intricacies of GDPR compliance, and highlight what organizations need to consider when collecting and utilizing customer data in the pursuit of effective marketing and sales strategies.

Understanding user engagement on advertising platforms: The Consent Conundrum

It’s crucial to analyze the connection between user engagement and permission to access personal data in the world of digital advertising, where platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and Instagram dominate.

Informed consent: GDPR requires organizations to obtain explicit and informed consent from users before processing their personal data.

Transparency: Users should be adequately informed about the specific data being collected, the purposes for which it will be used, and the entities involved in its processing.

Consent: Opt-in requests must be written in clear and concise language so that anyone can understand what they’re agreed to opt-in to.

Necessity and Proportionality: Determining the Scope of Data Access

When considering the extent of data that can be accessed upon user engagement, organizations must adopt a necessity and proportionality approach, meaning that they collect and process only the data required to achieve their marketing and sales objectives.

Minimal data principle: Organizations should collect and process the least amount of data necessary to achieve the desired outcome.

Context matters: The scope of data access may vary depending on the context of user engagement. For instance, collecting just the name and email address may suffice for a newsletter subscription, while a more comprehensive dataset may be required for a product purchase.

For example, a number of data tools have an enhanced or update feature that opens in a new window; Allowing you to fill in the data blanks with critical demographic and firmographic information that can drive your go-to-market motions.

Data Privacy by Design: Building Trust in Marketing and Sales Practices

Embedding data privacy into marketing and sales practices is vital for organizations to foster trust with their users and compliance with GDPR.

Privacy-centric design: Implementing privacy by design principles ensures that data protection measures are incorporated into marketing and sales processes from the very beginning.

Data minimization: Limiting the collection and retention of personal data to what is necessary for marketing and sales purposes reduces the risk of non-compliance with GDPR.

Secure data storage: Organizations should adopt robust security measures to safeguard the personal data they collect, ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Still think that GDPR doesn’t apply to you?

I’m sure you’re saying this to yourself as you read this article or maybe you sought some legal counsel in 2018 when GDPR was being rolled out and were told the same.  Perhaps you should ask the team at Clearview AI that were recently fined €5.2 million for not complying with France’s inquiries relating to how they manage their data (Clearview is a series C start up with 30 employees on Linkedin).

And while a fine and your name smeared all over the internet as being not careful with client and prospect data is likely bad for business, imagine what will happen when you’re not allowed to operate in the world’s third largest trading zone.

For some clarity and fun check the GDPR Enforcement Tracker for a list of fines and other compliance violations.

Creating Safe GDPR Sales and Marketing Motions

So, given the current litigious environment, how do we ensure that our sales and marketing motions are safe 

As businesses strive to thrive in today’s digital landscape, it is crucial to create a balance between successful marketing and sales tactics and GDPR compliance as firms attempt to prosper in the digital environment while protecting user privacy in the European Union. In addition to navigating the GDPR’s complexity, businesses may forge a route to sustainable growth and long-term success by adopting transparent permission processes, engaging in data minimization, and prioritizing privacy by design.

These firms should make sure that their marketing and sales operations follow GDPR best practices and make use of GDPR compliant contact data sources.  

This means that each opening email for a cold outreach campaign should:

  1. To ensure GDPR compliance in your cold emails, prioritize targeted prospects and have a valid reason for contacting them. Only collect and use necessary data relevant to your purpose. Avoid requesting unnecessary information, such as phone numbers or addresses.
  2. Obtain explicit consent or rely on one of the lawful bases for processing data under the GDPR (consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interest, public interest, or legitimate interest). Clearly explain how you acquired the prospect’s email and provide a reason for contacting them.
  3. When using legitimate interest as a lawful basis for processing, ensure your reasons align with the ICO’s guidelines. Mention specific factors, such as how your product supports their goals, recent investments, shared industry, networking, or relevant expansion plans.
  4. Make unsubscribing easy and provide an automated unsubscribe link. Instruct recipients on how to remove their data or opt-out. Promptly delete data upon deletion requests.
  5. Regularly maintain and update your database, removing inactive or incorrect leads. Keep track of how you collected and processed personal data. Notify subscribers when collaborating with other companies and sharing subscription lists.
  6. Prioritize data security by keeping records of authorization levels, retaining data only as long as necessary, and ensuring the systems and software you use are GDPR compliant. Encrypt and anonymize data where possible.
  7. Be responsive to prospect complaints and inquiries regarding their data usage. Address their concerns and be prepared to answer questions about data sources and information you possess.

For those who use the phone as their primary outreach tool here’s a list of best practices that should be followed:

  1. Prioritize compliance with do not call lists: Before making any calls, ensure that all phone numbers are screened against TPS/CTPS in the UK and other European do not call lists. Remember that respecting individuals’ preference not to be called is more important than any legitimate interest.
  2. Document the source of phone numbers: Maintain a record of how you obtained each phone number in your CRM. It is crucial to be able to demonstrate that you acquired them legitimately.
  3. Simplify opt-out process: Make it easy for prospects to opt-out of future contact and provide a clear mechanism for erasing their data upon request.
  4. Communicate privacy policies: Include privacy policies that clearly inform prospects about their rights under the GDPR.
  5. Leverage technology for call management: Utilize technology tools to effectively manage your calls, including maintaining a call history and tracking the frequency of calls to specific numbers.
  6. Safeguard personal data: Ensure that your prospects’ personal data is protected at all times, adhering to the highest standards of data security.
  7. Provide data protection training: Train your salespeople on data protection practices, GDPR regulations, and how to conduct compliant cold calls.

Remember that these adjustments may seem challenging initially, but they only require slight changes in approach. In outbound sales, the focus should always be on solving a prospect’s problem. Successful sales teams do not waste time contacting individuals unless they genuinely believe they can offer assistance.

By implementing these suggestions, along with partnering with compliant B2B data providers (we know a few), your team will consistently maintain GDPR compliance while achieving sales success.

Summing up

Startups and businesses of all sizes that choose to ignore GDPR rules should do so at their own peril.  And don’t think that just because you’re not located in the EU that GDPR doesn’t apply to your EU data set (because you’re dead wrong).  As described above, there are methods and mechanisms to complete effective initial or cold outreach and be GDPR compliant, the only question is: when will you be examined by the authorities and will you pass their examination?


The Reason Your Sales Pipeline Sucks – Do the Math!!

If you’re suffering from Pipeline Deficiency Syndrome (or PDS as I like to call it) then you most likely haven’t been calculating your Math of Sales correctly . If you don’t know what this is, read on.

For sales experts, analyzing metrics is the key to improving sales performance. By understanding the data behind the numbers, you can identify areas of improvement, increase efficiency, and ultimately boost revenue. 

If you’re like most small business owners or pre-A founders we work with, you likely do not have the luxury of a large sales team to generate new business opportunities and sales revenues. Accordingly, it’s even more crucial that these business owners and founders understand the factors that drive these revenues despite their limited resources.

Sales metrics are essential for any organization to track the performance of their sales team and to identify areas that need improvement. However, as described by John Doerr in his book “Measure What Matters”, analyzing sales metrics is not just about collecting data; it requires a thorough understanding of the numbers and their relationship to each other.

So, let’s  explore how analyzing sales metrics can help you achieve better results.

Let’s begin: What are sales metrics?

Sales metrics are measurements of key performance that help sales teams track progress, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions. They comprise  both leading and lagging indicators of performance and describe the specifics on each part of the sales journey.  In addition, these metrics can comprise combinations of data from various business functions like finance, customer success and marketing.

Examples of these metrics include:

  • Number of booked or held meetings
  • Number of unique transactions
  • Activity and pipeline conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Average deal size
  • Dollars per Dial

Sales metrics can be found at the top, middle and bottom of your sales journey (usually called a funnel, but I use both) and are the responsibility for every individual in your marketing, sales, onboarding and account management teams.

Why analyzing sales metrics is important

As we’ve already described, sales metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide valuable insights into the performance of a sales team. These metrics allow you to measure the effectiveness of your sales process, track the progress of individual sales reps, and identify areas for improvement. 

By tracking sales metrics, you can measure progress and make data-driven decisions.

When you perform initial and in depth analysis of your sales motions, you can gain a deeper understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. 

When using combined function metrics like customer acquisition cost (sales and finance), campaign conversion rates (sales and marketing), average deal size (sales and finance), sales cycle length (sales and marketing), and sales pipeline velocity via time series or comparative analysis, you can identify trends and make informed decisions to optimize your sales process, improve your team’s effectiveness in that process, and ultimately drive revenue growth.

How to build your sales metrics matrix

When starting out on your data-focused management journey you should start to build and track those metrics that seem to make the most sense for your actual prospect’s journey and interactions with your sales team.

There are five stages to the typical prospect journey:

  1. Prospecting – usually lead by marketing or sales/business development teams

  2. Top of Funnel – activities which attempt to directly engage with prospects and move them into further conversations with the sales teams are usually driven by the sales/business development or sales teams

  3. Mid Funnel – activities which outline the outcomes and results of conversations with new individuals and accounts managed by the sales team

  4. Bottom of Funnel – activities which outline the outcomes of conversations with personified and potential purchases of your offerings managed by the sales, legal and executive teams

  5. Post-agreement cylinder – activities which outline the outcomes with new and existing clients managed by the customer service, finance and executive teams

Developing Metrics

Now that you know when to measure in the new client acquisition process, you should develop metrics that help you understand what’s going on in each of these stages.  What to measure can be comprised of data from a variety of business functions, here’s a few to consider:

  1. Prospecting – total addressable market, unqualified prospects, Ideal client profile

  2. Top of Funnel – Interested prospects curated by marketing or direct outreach, connected conversation rates with markets, Dollar Value Per Dial or Outreach, typical deflections

  3. Middle of Funnel – Connected conversations to discovery meeting bookings, sales meeting that are held, sales funnel (or cylinder) stage journey for each prospect, estimated revenues per transaction, size of buying committee
  1. Bottom of Funnel – Deal Win rates, deal size changes, reasons for win/loss, deal duration completion rates, sales pipeline velocity

  2. Post-agreement cylinder -duration of onboarding process, size of customer implementation team, cost of new business acquisition, churn rates.

When we combine these metrics into a series of dashboards we build what I call the sales metric matrix.  Once your matrix is started, you’ll start being able to connect the relationships between various locations in your sales process as well as financial and customer impacts.

When we layer additional data from other parts of your business, you can then start to determine correlations between website and logistics performance data as they relate to your new customers’ firmographics and the individual personas that are the most effective.

When using graphics, charts and images, you can then build visual dashboards that literally “connect the dots” between different business units, functions and outcomes in your sales, marketing and customer success functions.

With both the matrix and imaging from your key metrics, you’ve now got the insight (vs data) that will assist in decision making for each of these core business processes.

And that is how you become a data-driven revenue and sales leader.

Don’t be intimidated by the math behind sales metrics. With the right tools and guidance, even non-technical Founders and CEOs can learn to analyze sales data and make data-driven decisions (we have a great free tool that we’d be happy to share) So, if you’re not already tracking sales metrics, it’s time to start.

Identify the key performance indicators that matter most to your organization and start collecting data. Analyze the data regularly to identify areas of improvement and make data-driven decisions about your sales strategy. With the right approach to sales metrics, you can improve sales performance and achieve better results.

Unlocking Growth Potential through Sales Metrics Analysis

In conclusion, sales metrics are a crucial component of any organization’s sales strategy. By analyzing these metrics, you can gain valuable insights into your sales team’s performance, identify areas for improvement, and capitalize on growth opportunities. 

Understanding the math behind the numbers is essential, but with the right tools and guidance, anyone can learn to analyze sales data and make data-driven decisions. 

The Costly Consequences of Bad Data for Small Sales Teams

Stop Burning Money on Bad Sales Data 

If you’re a sales or business development leader at a small company with a small or nonexistent sales team, you appreciate how crucial every lead is for your bottom line. 

But what if the data you’re relying on to generate those leads is bad? After all, the List IS the Strategy, right?

Bad data can not only waste time and resources, but it can also bottom out your bottom line if not tended to promptly.

Why is Prospect Contact Data So bad?

According to a 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (US) survey the average employee turnover is 57.3%.  This staggering number is segmented into two main groups: voluntary turnover (25%) and involuntary turnover (29%) and high performers (loosely defined) comprise 3% of the total turnover (so 54.3% are mid or low performers).

In a world of quiet-quitting, remote work and bastardized hybrid work schemes, the workforce is more volatile than ever.

The implication is that the likelihood of you being able to reach your Ideal Prospect using your CRM contact data from the year before or even last year is likely incorrect or wrong. Relying on such Sales data is like relying on a bridge to nowhere.

Where your money is likely to go when investing in bad sales data….

The Importance of Quality Data in Sales

As a sales expert specializing in B2B sales at expanding small businesses and  having made hundreds of thousands of outbound call attempts, I’ve seen firsthand my share of poor sales data. So, I understand the importance of having high-quality contact data in both outbound and inbound sales motions.  

Here are some primary benefits of good sales contact data:

  • High-quality contact data allows sales teams to be more efficient with their time and resources. With accurate contact information, sales representatives can focus on reaching out to the right people and avoid wasting time on dead-end leads. This can help to streamline the sales process and increase overall productivity.

  • Good contact data can also improve targeting efforts. By having a detailed understanding of their target audience, businesses can create more targeted and effective sales and marketing strategies. This can lead to better engagement with potential customers, ultimately resulting in higher conversion rates.

  • Having good contact data can also help businesses build stronger relationships with their customers. By maintaining accurate and up-to-date information on their customers, businesses can tailor their sales and marketing efforts to meet their specific needs and preferences. This can help to foster a deeper sense of trust and loyalty between the business and its customers, leading to increased retention rates and long-term success.

The Persona Non Grata Syndrome

In our work with small businesses and pre-series A startups, we’ve found that most owners and founders have a general idea of the psychographics of their Ideal clients but do not have enough reference clients to affirm these personas, hence much of the time making them Non Grata (Not Welcome – At least as a customer). Accordingly, their marketing and sales teams fail in their outreach attempts, through no fault of their own:

  • Expend a significant amount of time and resources attempting to connect to the wrong people.  If they had accurate contact details of their hypothetical ideal prospects then they could quickly test for goodness of fit.  Instead they spend hours and weeks building contacts lists from a variety of sources that end up being the wrong people, the wrong data or both!

  • Even when conversations take place, the owners and sales team discover that they’re not speaking with someone in the buying committee or have the problem they’re trying to solve.  With accurate contact data and account mapping you can virtually eliminate this issue.

When using accurate and validated sales data, your sales and marketing teams are targeting the right individuals which can create prospect journeys and messaging that resonates with them, thereby improving brand value and awareness.

The Consequences of Bad Data

I can say with certainty that having the wrong sales data can be incredibly detrimental to your sales efforts. Without accurate and relevant data:

  • Your sales team may be wasting their time and resources on leads that will never convert. This is because they may be pursuing leads that do not fit your ideal customer profile, or they may be using outdated or incorrect information to try to make a sale. This can result in a lot of wasted effort, as well as frustration and disappointment when deals do not close.

  • Without this data, sales and marketing people can’t  personalize their approach to each individual lead, tailoring your messaging and tactics to their specific needs and pain points.

  • Businesses need this data so they can increase their chances of success and help build stronger relationships with your customers over time. Ultimately, having the right sales data can make all the difference when it comes to closing deals and growing your business.

Damaged brand reputation 

The Sales and Marketing teams are the leading edge of your company’s brand in the market.  By using incorrect sales contact data these teams can do significant damage to your brand’s reputation.

Inaccurate or outdated information can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings that can negatively impact the prospect and customer experience. For example, if your sales team is using incorrect corporate revenue information (a firmographic data point), this can lead to pricing discrepancies and frustrated customers. Similarly, if your team is pursuing leads that are not a good fit for your product or service, this can lead to negative reviews and a damaged reputation.

Furthermore, in today’s digital age, word of mouth spreads quickly (especially in small highly targeted groups like municipalities or healthcare professionals), and negative reviews can have a significant impact on a brand’s reputation. With social media and online review platforms, customers have more power than ever before to share their experiences and opinions. 

If your brand is associated with inaccurate or outdated information, this can quickly spread, leading to a loss of trust and credibility among your target audience. Ultimately, having the right sales data is essential not only for closing deals but also for building a strong brand reputation and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Wasted Time

I’ve spoken to so many sales leaders over the years and have heard quite a few stories (enough to write a book)  on how wrong sales data can lead to wasted time and effort on conversations with non-buyers. 

This can be particularly frustrating for sales teams who may be excited about what they believe to be new sales opportunities, only to find out that the leads they are pursuing are not a good fit for their product or service. This can be a significant distraction for the sales team, as they may spend valuable time and resources pursuing leads that are unlikely to convert.

Moreover, the false sense of opportunity that comes from having the wrong sales data can be detrimental to a sales team’s morale and motivation. When sales reps are misled into thinking that they have a pipeline full of potential buyers, only to find out that those opportunities are not real, it can be demotivating and even demoralizing. 

This can lead to a decrease in productivity, a loss of enthusiasm for the job and staff turnover, which can ultimately impact the bottom line. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your sales team has access to accurate and up-to-date sales data, so they can focus their efforts on pursuing real sales opportunities and avoid wasting time on conversations with non-buyers.

Investing in Data is Investing in your Success

Investing in high-quality data may seem like an added expense, but it’s crucial for the success and growth of your small business. By improving your outbound sales development and generating more revenue, you’ll see a significant return on investment.