The General Data Protection Regulation takes effect on 25 May, and Sales teams will need to comply with it.

The new rules bring a sea-change in the way business developers interact with prospects and clients. What are the main pitfalls you need to avoid?

What is the GDPR and how will it impact Sales teams?

The General Data Protection Regulation aims to strengthen data protection for individuals within the EU, as well as governing the way personal data is exported outside the EU.

It introduces a number of ‘lawful bases’ for holding someone’s data. The way you handle and store this data will need to change once the new regulation comes into force in just under four months’ time.

In order to comply, you need to understand how the new regulation affects you.

What are the pitfalls to avoid when trying to comply?

  • Not understanding what you need to do

The regulation has attracted a lot of attention partly because specific guidance has been in short supply.

In the last six months or so, the Information Commissioner’s Office (who sit on an EU working party developing the GDPR guidelines) published a series of blogs aimed at dispelling some of the misinformation around the new regulation.

With the deadline looming, Sales teams need to understand the implications. The ICO has a dedicated GDPR microsite, which is a good source of information, with updates and downloadable tools.

  • Not understanding the new rules around consent

One of the lawful bases for handling personal data is ‘consent’: if people have proactively given you permission to contact them, you can. This is the basis most likely to be relevant to Sales.

But – the way consent can be obtained is changing. Currently, you can use pre-ticked opt-in boxes, or market to people using rented or bought-in lists.

This will change under GDPR. There are rules around what constitutes valid consent, which has to be proactively given.

If your existing consent processes don’t meet GDPR standards, you’ll need to request it again, in a way that complies with the new rules.

  • Not having compliant record-keeping processes

Business developers frequently keep their own contact lists and records – often outside of any business-wide CRM system.

The new regulation says that organisations have to keep a record of:

  • The data they hold
  • Where it’s being stored
  • How it’s being used

However you keep your contact information, it’s likely that your approach will need an overhaul to make sure it’s compliant – and it will almost certainly mean additional admin.

Prepare for this in advance so you know what’s required and what you need to do.

  • Failing to produce content that will deliver leads

The regulation represents a huge shift in the way sales teams engage with their contacts. Instead of reaching out to them, sales and marketing will rely on prospects proactively contacting your firm.

This relies on your business producing content that will engage your contacts – driving them to your website and encouraging them to get in touch.

Content marketing will become increasingly important to Sales teams – as will channels like social media, where no personal data is needed.

You may want to explore automating your content production or distribution processes (and there are lots of benefits from automating both). Automation speeds the content production process by minimising the time spent in drafting, reviewing and getting approval; automating distribution makes it easy to reach your audiences.

  • Underestimating the consequences

The penalties for not complying with the GDPR are severe.

Any organisation that doesn’t meet the requirements faces potential fines of up to €20m (£18m), or 4% of the firm’s worldwide turnover.

The financial and reputational implications of failure mean you can’t afford to be complacent about the new regulation.

With GDPR becoming the new normal in less than four months, you need to assess and update your sales processes now if you want to comply. While emails and outbound sales/marketing activity may have delivered your pipeline up to now, the new rules will change this.

We offer a complete solution with a range of self-service, cost effective, compliance and marketing products and services that are uniquely suited to supporting firms.