The General Data Protection Regulation –What does it now mean for selling and prospecting new customers? 

Are you asking yourself if and how can you continue to prospect new customers without breaking the new General Data Protection Regulation (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 the General Data Protection Regulation 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 the General Data Protection Regulation has an impact on you and your business.

This is because the General Data Protection Regulation 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, 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 outlining your company privacy statement. Under the new General Data Protection Regulation, 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.

If it is your first contact with a prospect, 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 obtained prior consent to share that information with you. But you will also be required to get specific consent to use any email address on the list – unless they have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.

2. Leverage social media platforms

The new legislation does not stop sales agents finding and connecting with potential customers on social media, be it for a recommendation, or for directly reaching out to new prospects. Examples include Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, which can help to get the discussion underway. Once connected, you must seek consent, and the recipient must have given it to you, prior to any future emailing contact.

3. Pick up the phone

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 General Data Protection Regulation. Once connected with a new prospect, you will need to obtain their consent, to add their information to your CRM database. That is 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 an agreement to partner, this requires their consent for any future prospecting emails. 

The main message to take away here  is that the General Data Protection Regulation is not about being restrictive. Instead, it introduces discipline around the handling of client and prospect data. Combined with a more personal approach to building networks – over the phone and through social media. This will in turn enable you to build deeper and more targeted relationships.


Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help support you and your business with the complexities of the new GDPR regulation. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.


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