New EU Data Protection law: a blow-by-blow guide to dealing with it

Data Protection Law is something every CRM marketer comes up against, and in 2016 another tranche of bills will pass into law – affecting all 28 EU member states, including the UK.

While perhaps needlessly complex (like much European Union legislation!) it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s how it matters to you… with some of the good outcomes at the end.

First, the big one:

1. User consent must be explicit, not implied

Many EU businesses follow an American model where data protection is involved: consumers will be sent marketing communications unless they specifically opt out.

For EU businesses (and those doing business in the EU) that will be illegal.

In the next 12-18 months (the legislation is being introduced gradually – but not that gradually!) all EU businesses will be required to collect, record, and retain explicit proof that everyone on their mailing lists explicitly opted-in to receive marketing communications outside the topic of immediate interest.

(In other words, “ham” emails – essential stuff like transaction confirmations and billing – are allowed, but following on the next day with an up-sell or cross-sell offer is not, unless that customer explicitly said Yes to it.)

This is a fundamental difference between US and EU law. Since much CRM software hails from the US, this can create problems. Your CRM professional can advise on the right policies to adopt to stay the right side of the law.

2. Opening an account does not grant consent

You might think opening a user account is an explicit opt-in. Think again. According to the DMA, simply providing an email address or other data does not confer any right on the marketer to make further use of it.

As a case from retailer John Lewis shows, even a pre-selected “Yes, I’d like to receive emails” in your signup process doesn’t satisfy all requirements for openness and transparency. Your customer must explicitly select (no pre-ticks!) from a clear choice, without having to deal with long-winded T’s and C’s.

3. Penalties become much more defined

While there have been a few big cases, most EU Data Protection violations have been small-scale and settled without recourse to the courts. The new laws, however, allow for fines of up to 100 million Euros – and passed with overwhelming support in the EU Parliament.

Furthermore, there’s no get-out clause for honest mistakes. An individual consumer will be able to sue for privacy violations: that single email your marketing department sent in error could carry consequential risk running into the millions.

4. To avoid a repeat, you’ve got to delete

The “right to be forgotten” you’ve heard about in the news is at heart simple: if a consumer wants his/her data deleted from your servers and you have no legitimate reason to retain it, it’s time to say goodbye.

For many CRM marketers, deleting user data is anathema – in fact, some CRM applications don’t even allow it! Ask your CRM partner where your stand: they’ll be able to find a legally valid solution.

5. Being based outside the EU is no excuse!

Just as a great many EU companies have to satisfy American reporting requirements as a cost of doing business in the USA, any non-EU business that touches EU citizens falls within the scope of the new EU data laws.

It’s unclear how enforceable this will be, but pay attention if you outsource customer data (particularly security in the cloud) to countries with different legal regimes to the EU. They may be applying policies that don’t fit the new requirements.

But there’s some good news…

It’s not all red tape – particularly if you have under 250 employees. Savvy CRM marketers may even be able to turn the new EU data laws to their advantage! Are you one of them?

For instance, the requirement to appoint a named individual as your data protection czar (what SME can afford that?) is going away across all 28 states. Same goes for the impact assessments and notification fees some countries demand. And the long arm of the law, if it knocks at your door, applies EU-wide: you won’t have to deal with 28 investigations for a single alleged offence.

Overall, the new legislation does what it says on the tin: makes life harder for spammers, and smoothes the playing field across the EU’s single market of 350m people. And for many CRM-using businesses, that’ll be a good thing.


  • Check for consent: it must be explicit, not implied
  • The right to be forgotten applies to your database as much as Google’s
  • Fines start with a single offence and go up to 100 million Euros
  • The good news: EU Data Protection Law is now the same EU-wide

EU Data Protection Laws start with securing your customer data – and there’s no better way to start than with The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud


Find out how successful IT managers make the most of their time and make every day an IT success story.

The role of an IT manager can be a highly rewarding but challenging one – so how do the most successful IT managers make each and every day count?

Schedule for Success


Checking emails and reading the latest industry news and views via your mobile device during the commute.

The successful IT manager understands how imperative it is to stay on top of breaking IT developments that could benefit the company.


Group meeting with IT staff to monitor performance on ongoing projects and ensure deadlines and quality standards are on course to be met.


Checking in with IT suppliers and their progress.


39% of IT staff lose around one working day or more per week dealing with IT problems and chasing suppliers. A successful IT manager understands that to avoid wasting time and resources, suppliers must be monitored on a regular basis.



Meeting with the CFO to discuss an IT issue that the department is experiencing, before delegating to IT staff to ensure the problem is dealt with quickly and efficiently.


Meeting with the marketing director and a consultant about rolling out a new company-wide system, ensuring that:

  •  The consultant isn’t trying to sell the company a ‘pup’.
  • Any subsequent rollout is achievable from a technical point of view.


Holding a Skype call with a vendor about a potential product that could help streamline the company’s operations.

The successful IT manager understands that any software solution must move the business forward and show ROI to the board.


Meeting with the CISO to discuss the company’s Bring Your Own Device policy to ensure that company data leakage remains a ‘non-issue’ within your company.


By 2017…

40% of enterprise contact information will have leaked into Facebook via employees’ increased use of mobile device collaboration applications. The successful IT manager understands that BYOD is here to stay – whether companies like it or not – and official policies, procedures and safeguards must be put in place.



Taking time out for lunch, while checking in on breaking IT news and investigating any vendor offers that you may have received via email.


Organising the rollout of a critical software update to ensure that the company’s IT network is operating at maximum efficiency and has the latest security updates.


Updating key stakeholders on all project progress to keep them in the loop and help ‘educate’ the board about the challenges that the IT department faces daily.

The successful IT manager understands that it is critical to the IT department’s continued funding and success that the C-Suite is kept up-to-date in jargon-free language.


Vetting the CMO’s finalised presentation pack that was discussed at the 11am meeting, checking that all technical details discussed are present and correct for the pitch being given the next day.


How much budget projects have been known to go over by: 400%
with only… 25-50% of the estimated benefits to the company being realised.

The successful IT manager understands that bridges must be built to ensure that traditional silos between departments are banished forever so any project stands the best chance of succeeding.



Fielding a late call from a panicked employee in sales who believes they may have ‘broken the internet’.

The successful IT manager understands that not all employees are IT literate and IT support’s attitude should reflect this.


Checking in with your preferred IT news sites on the way home.


Checking work emails from the late-shift IT workers before finally winding down for the night.

Data security is a vital part of your day-to-day IT strategy. Maximise yours with our free eGuide The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud


Nobody likes hearing sales complaints but handled well, they’re a great indicator of how your team’s performing – and how you could improve it.

Let’s face it, sales people don’t have the easiest of jobs. How many times have you had to deal with sales complaints about cold leads and phone numbers that don’t provide any results?

This blog lists some of the big sales complaints from salespeople. While some complaints may seem insignificant, there is a serious side: happy salespeople are productive salespeople. Remember: complaints are your friend. A complaint from your sales team is a trouble ticket that shows you where your process needs tweaking.

#1: “But my phone day’s Tuesday!”

Having a weekly plan of activity can be a good thing: leads prospecting on Monday, phoning on Tuesday, appointments on Wednesday and so on. But what if your prospects don’t follow the same schedule? What if they’re always in on Monday but Tuesday is used for travel?

If your team members work in patterns, is there any way you could work with their preferences? For a large enough database, yes. Many CRM applications can slice analytical data.

Suppose you discovered that the engineering sector tends to answer its phones on Fridays, while IT workers prefer Wednesdays? Armed with such insight, assigning leads becomes an exercise in increasing productivity and satisfying both staff and customers.

#2: “I’ve already made my targets this month.”

Studies show a marked slowdown in activity, per head, once targets are hit. If a big sale on the 15th takes Fred over his goals, he’ll tend to slacken off for the rest of the month.

Very often, this is tied to commission structures. Some sales departments limit the total commission pot, or reduce the percentage above a certain sales volume. Neither of these are exactly an incentive for your salesperson working the phones, although it limits your risk on paper.

There’s the clue: on paper. What else looks good on paper? A good CRM consultant can set up your purchase funnels and conversion probabilities to show you where increasing commission rates might be a good idea. For example, a 3% commission for the first £50,000 in sales each month might be worth upping to 5% after that level is reached, if it’d deliver an extra £35,000 in turnover.

#3: “But I’ve already sent him an email!”

As time goes on, you’ve probably heard sales complaints about how Generation Y (let alone Z) is harder to reach by phone. (In the mobile world, usage of voice minutes is actually going down.) Many salespeople think an email is just as good.

Today’s sales are made via a variety of contact touchpoints, building trust in bits and pieces over time. Here’s the thing: Customer Relationship Management applications that connect different channels (like phone, email and SMS) can show you which sequences work best.

So take your salespeople aside and show them the sequence of contacts that tends to produce results most often. Perhaps the first touch is indeed an email, but in 70% of successful sales, they received a phone call within 24 hours. Your salespeople may even have kept a cold lead warm by sending them a text message every two weeks.

#4: “That list’s been done to death.”

When your list has been contacted over and over again, it becomes a common sales complaint that there’s no life left in it. But studies demonstrate that an “old” but well-targeted list pulls far better than a fresh but untested one.

If a lead has stalled, it may be your customer journey that’s missing a few stages. Your CRM dashboard may be able to show you where the pinch-points are – and what actions (perhaps a new script, a side offer) can get the funnel moving again. Getting together with your marketing team may generate some ideas.

#5: “If I make those calls, I’ll have to put them on CRM.”

Last comes the real buzzkill – and it’s valid. If your CRM system makes it hard to add names or contact reports, wouldn’t you be tempted to “store up” notes to add later instead of keeping records updated in real-time?

This one plays hell with your weekly reports. So look at how people really use CRM, and redesign your dashboard and processes to make it easier for them. (Difficulty of use is a prime reason many CRM implementations fail.)

So for an antidote to all the complaints, remember: CRM serves your people, not the other way around.


Counteract your sales team’s complaints with these important points:

  • If your salespeople have patterns, see if there’s advantage in working with them.
  • Offer incentive schemes to make things better for everyone.
  • Show your salespeople the sequence that leads to a sale, not just the script.
  • Sales people respond to hard data. To change behaviour, always back up with evidence.
  • Updating CRM should be seen as a core part of sales success.

Discover how to keep your sales team happy by increasing the potential for profits. Download The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling


By building a CRM culture from its roll-out, your organisation can avoid a costly failure and keep the spreadsheets at bay.

Between 60-70% of CRM projects fail to meet expectations. Your bosses want a system that’s more reliable and accountable than spreadsheets. Your staff don’t want a CRM, but they want things that help them do their job. Your customers want you to have clear records on them, so they don’t repeat themselves.

Executives make a speedy decision to get CRM, they get something built and expect sales and efficiency to rapidly improve.

But a few weeks or months later, it doesn’t seem to be delivering the benefits. The CRM is little more than a glorified address book and staff aren’t using it.


As many IT managers, executives and CTOs have come to realise, it’s not always the software’s fault. That’s because CRM is much more than a software system. Getting it to work successfully is a way of life.

Building a CRM culture

The human element of software is probably more important than the technical side. Without encouragement from everyone across the organisation, it’s not going to be used. Essentially, you need to build new habits among your staff.

Before the roll-out stage, your staff need to be taught how a CRM benefits the business and themselves.

Why is it important that they keep accurate records? Why can’t they just keep messages in their inbox? Why should they make a note after every sales call? How can CRM help them become better salespeople?

If buying into CRM has been a top-down decision – nobody’s really committed to making it work. Staff don’t see the benefits to themselves. Before long, staff are using spreadsheets again. BUT if the IT department takes the time to answer those questions and gets buy-in from across the organisation, you can have a customer-centric culture where CRM really works.

4 tips to creating a culture that makes CRM work

  1. Create a project group with a “CRM champion” from each department.
    Make someone in each department responsible for their team’s adoption of CRM. Encourage them to speak up about how it’s working, and if they need help or feature changes. Getting feedback from each department means that any necessary changes to the CRM software can be made. It also means you can arrange extra training or support where necessary.This person needs to sell the benefits of CRM to each team. By getting ‘buy-in’ from each silo of your organisation, your teams have a stake in making it work.
  2. Create project groups that collaborate – like marketing and sales.
    Here, teams can collaborate on how to adopt modern practices like lead nurturing and lead scoring. Or maybe they can ask things like “how can we improve the lead handling process?”.Likewise, a marketing/customer-service group could come together once a month to discuss how to collect more customer feedback and how to implement it.By getting business silos to come together and collaborate, everyone gets their voices heard and people are enthusiastic about using CRM.
  3. Commitment to full training and support for all staff.
    With a CRM system, it’s worth giving every member of staff full training. If people in your call centre miss training, they may not use all the features and they may not ask for help.It’s important that everyone learns how to use the system and is encouraged to speak to their managers about how it’s working for them.
  4. Encourage your “CRM champions” to use the CRM data to help themselves.
    Your CRM is likely to bring out a lot of insights. You’ll learn everything from the length of your sales cycle, common support problems and information about different customer profiles.These insights will let your teams perform better and work more efficiently. It’s a great idea to encourage your “CRM champions” to use this data for themselves.

Furthermore, it’s worth strategically arranging training to show them how to make the most of their data. This can help them increase sales, make their marketing more relevant and help solve customer problems more quickly.

The truth is: CRM isn’t just software, it’s a way of life. If you can encourage your teams to buy-in to the CRM system, they’ll eventually thank you for making their jobs easier.

(What’s more, you’ll all be glad to see the back of those spreadsheets.)

Discover how to keep your data safe by downloading: The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud