GDPR, Consent and B2B emails explained

Part of our work here at Doogheno involves sending B2B emails for lead generation.  Sometimes its’s for ourselves, sometimes it’s for our customers, such as a large survey we do every year with a company called ServiceteamIT.

Most people respond well.

Some don’t.  Some say you have no right to send me an email, you are in breach of GDPR, some are even less polite than that.

But the simple truth of the matter is that in the UK you can still send cold B2B email.

GDPR makes no distinction between a personal email address and a business email address.  However, UK law does, it is this differentiation that allows companies to still email other businesses, primarily for marketing but in this instance an invitation to take part in research. This is because PECR, which is the electronic communications regulation that has been in place for many years and last updated in 2015, is not replaced by GDPR or the 2018 Data Protection Act in the UK and allows for contact without consent.

However, GDPR does introduce legislation that means that outreach emails can only be sent under certain circumstances and that this communication needs to still be compliant.

There is a legal basis for sending business to business email which is called Legitimate Interest.  Currently, this allows for business to business emailing where the recipient has not given consent to processing providing a legitimate interest test has been carried out and passed, and the sender recognises and respects the rights and freedoms of the recipient, such as responding to their request and actioning the request.

The legitimate interest test is made up of three parts, Identification of a Legitimate Interest, a necessity test ad a balancing test.  In the first part, we look at if the recipient is likely to find the information relevant to their job function, in this case, it is a survey that will be used to provide insight into UK technology adoption and made available after anonymisation which is reasonable to believe will be informative to the recipient.  The second part of the test covers necessity and we ask is there another way we could reasonably communicate this information.  And the third part looks at balance, do your rights as a data citizen outweigh our need to send the information, as we recognise and respect the recipient’s rights such as providing details on the basis for processing and giving details of how to stop processing or correct any errors we believe that balance is equal.  This approach is defined by the ICO and is fully compliant with GDPR.

The ICO states that in the case of B2B emails that this balance will generally fall with on the side of the sender but obviously don’t send irrelevant information to the wrong people.  If you are sending relevant information to someone who it is reasonable to believe will find that information of value and interest then you should be ok.

From the ICO Guidelines

“142. These rules on consent, the soft opt-in and the right to opt out do not apply to electronic marketing messages sent to ‘corporate subscribers’ which means companies and other corporate bodies eg limited liability partnerships, Scottish partnerships, and government bodies. The only requirement is that the sender must identify itself and provide contact details.”

“145. In addition, many employees have personal corporate email addresses (eg, and individual employees will have a right under section 11 of the DPA to stop any marketing being sent to that type of email address.”

And the ICO Guidance on PECR

“Although the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) only protects individuals, PECR apply to any direct marketing by phone, fax, email or other electronic means. This means that PECR protects companies and other corporate bodies from unwanted marketing, as well as protecting individuals.

However, there are different rules for marketing to corporate bodies and marketing to individuals. PECR place fewer limits on marketing to corporate bodies – but there are still limits.”

“The rules on marketing by email or text are different. The only obligation on the organisation sending the email or text is that they must not conceal their identity, and must provide contact details.

There is no right to opt out, or to register with a preference service. However, it is still worth asking an organisation to stop sending you marketing emails or texts. Most organisations will not want to waste resources or risk their reputation by sending unwanted messages.

Individual employees with personally identifiable work email addresses (eg can, however, make a written request to stop receiving marketing emails under s11 of the DPA. Organisations must then stop using that email address for marketing purposes within a reasonable period.”


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GDPR + Sales & Marketing – A Practical Guide

In preparing for compliance, companies have tended to focus on how they hold and store current data. They have not given much thought to the impact of GDPR on day to day operations. Your company should already be a long way down the line with its preparation. This paper is not intended for Data Controllers within an organisation or to advise you on how to ensure you are ready across your company for GDPR, it is intended as a reference source for the people handling data subject information within your sales and marketing departments.

The introduction of GDPR will impact every area of business, sales and marketing in particular, as it brings with it a requirement for a new level of responsibility. New data collection and the use and storage of data within departments have tended to be overlooked. This short paper looks at the specific practical implications of GDPR on sales and marketing. Every Information source on GDPR details the very high fines that accompany the new regulations, up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover. This alone should be enough to focus your mind on conforming to the regulations, and we believe that if you follow solid principles and best practice, your business will be able to achieve compliance and avoid incurring fines. Throughout this paper, it is assumed that the companies involved are working in the B2B space within the UK. We also assume that you have already had a look at the GDPR regulations that will be coming into force in May. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on the 25th of May, 2018.

What is your risk?

It is unlikely that your company will be picked for an audit, so for sales and marketing, the highest risks within your control are data breach, or being reported by an unhappy contact. Your Data Controller should inform you of what to do in the event of a data breach, and you should familiarise yourself with the process of immediately reporting a breach to them. Being prepared and efficiently handling requests from contacts, to opt out of future communications for example, will minimise risk. But this is not an excuse to be complacent, one complaint could be very disruptive to your business and lead to a damaging fine. GDPR might feel frustrating but it is for the benefit of us all as it protects how our personal data is being held and used. It is good practice to treat every contact with the same security and diligence with which we’d expect our credit card company to treat our own personal data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a ruling intended to protect the data of citizens within the European Union. The GDPR is a move by The Council of the European Union, European Parliament, and European Commission to provide citizens with a greater level of control over their personal data. This applies to the UK and will not be affected by Brexit.

The basic principles are:

Lawfulness, fairness and transparency Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject

Purpose limitation Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes

Data minimisation Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed Accuracy Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date

Storage limitation Personal data shall be kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed Integrity and confidentiality

Personal data shall be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures

Accountability The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR

If you are new to GDPR I recommend that you read the Information Commissioners Office Guide to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/

As we are looking at the specifics of job functions we are only working with the main points that you should be aware of. This guide is intended to enhance your knowledge and allow you to apply it to your job role.

The Basics
…the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.”

GDPR requires the sending party to justify that a communication is in the legitimate interest of, and does not risk the privacy of, the individual concerned. The following of a three-step process, a Legitimate Interest Assessment, is required. This assessment should be recorded and attached to the record in the CRM in case it is required at a later date. Details of your legitimate interests must be included in your privacy notice.

1. Identify a legitimate interest. Sending a sales email to a person within a company who has decision-making responsibility for specifying and purchasing services that you sell would be a legitimate interest.

2. Is it necessary? Could this communication be achieved by another means? The business objective could determine necessity.

3. Strike a balance. Do the recipient’s rights override the sender’s interests in sending the email?

Legitimate Interest Legitimate interest is already reasonably well established and understood, as it is the basis for unsubscribe links. Any contact can object to direct marketing and this principle still remains. In most instances, Legitimate Interest will be used as legal grounds for marketing activity. But this does not give marketers carte blanche to continue the practices they have used previously.

If you want to read the rest of this guide download it for free from here

How will GDPR impact sales and marketing?

The arrival of GDPR will fundamentally change how sales and marketing is done, some may argue not but still in many companies prospecting is all about dirty outreach.  By dirty, I mean uncontrolled and left up to salespeople, who end up running shadow databases, bringing over contacts from all companies, cold calling and cold emailing.

Companies need to be adopting inbound marketing and they need to be doing it right now and not in a year’s time when they are already feeling the impact.

Sometimes…every time…

We always want to help out a friend but is it always wise to do so?

I recently undertook a project for my wife’s friend that I estimated at 40 hours.  I charged at a rate that was about 1/3 of my commercial rate.

The job has taken 60 hours largely because of the client not providing clear enough instructions and changing things as they went along.

This has meant that the favour has actually impacted on day to day work as the time lost has to made up out of hours.  That’s evenings and weekends when I could be spending time with my family.

Another friend of over 25 years asked me to help with something the other day. The lesson I have learnt is that even if you are charging you still feel different to a normal customer. So you do your best and give a great service.  But at the end of the day you are doing a lot for someone.  The time could have been donated towards a charity project.

I haven’t said I will help my old friend as I simply don’t have the time. And even if I did I would have to think twice or even three times.




Hey guys…the traitors greeting

Hey guys. Millions of YouTube videos start with this friendly greeting but have you stopped to think what guys means and where it comes from. Some people suggest it is a derivation of the Yiddish word goy meaning a gentile one who is not of the Jewish faith.

But we have to look to the early 17th century for the real answer.

When King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Church of England after he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1533 because of his divorce of Catherine of Aragon. This lead to the English Reformation where the Catholic Church, it’s priests and worshipers were persecuted and driven out of the country. Elizabeth I and then James I continued the persecution of Catholics. The Catholic Church was driven underground and people worshipped in secret. Amongst those worshippers were a group who planned an attack on the Protestant power and kill James I by blowing up parliament. The gunpowder plot. Following a tip-off on the conspirators, Guy Fawkes was found under parliament with 20 barrels of gunpowder on the night of the 5th of November 1605.

Following Guy Fawkes execution for treachery James I’s parliament introduced the Observance of 5th November Act, which later became known as the Gunpowder Treason Day. Over the century the day was marked by sermons but also bonfires that started to become large celebrations, often burning effigies of Guy Fawkes. Towards the end of the 19th-century children began begging with effigies of Guy Fawkes, something that was still common in the late 20th century and the day started to take the name of Guy Fawkes. These ragged effigies gave rise to the slang name of a badly dressed fellow, a guy. When the word guy crossed the Atlantic it started to lose its earlier associations and just came to mean a man.

And now we use the term daily as a greeting “Hey guys” to both sexes without a thought to its origin.

Brexit, I’d rather not if it’s all the same with you

Doogheno isn’t a massive company, in fact we are the S in SME like millions of other businesses.

It’s not just big business that will be impacted by Brexit. We would be hit, we work with European businesses. But if we had different laws we’d need to bring in solicitors to draft new contracts, the customer wouldn’t want to pick up that cost so we’d have to carry it and that would make some customers unprofitable for us.

We already carry the cost of translation for these clients.

I like working with European companies, I have done it for years. Much of my business has come from Ireland, I haven’t had to translate that but I have had to learn their ways of business.

Friends of mine with small businesses also work with European companies. Any additional red tape will impact their business even more than mine.

And yes we could work with other countries but right now we have a unified legal structure that makes it easy to work with Europe.

Losing that is going to hurt my business, and in a small business that means it will impact my family and the families of our little team.

I make no bones about my views on Brexit. If we had 10 years to negotiate and transition I think it could be a good thing. But we don’t and it won’t.

My simple productivity hack

My simple productivity hack

My simple productivity hack is only plan the first 6 hours of a working day.

My day is broken down into 45 minute blocks, with built in slack time and this is only scheduled to 3pm.

On a typical day I review emails and create a day plan before I have breakfast with my family. I then get straight into my activities when I hit my desk.

I get all my chase ups done first thing. And then address anything that is awkward, weighty or unpleasant, such as dealing with the taxman so that it leaves my mind unburdened by the dread of a crappy thing I have to do.

I then work through my list.

I only plan to 3pm. I tend to work till 5:30, take a break for tea with my family, bath and bed time with my 2 year old, before returning back for an hour and a half work starting around 7.

The unscheduled time from 3-5:30 is usually taken up with creative activities. These expand into whatever time there is available and don’t fit into the 45 minute sections. So if I am writing an article for a customer I will do it in this time. Importantly actions such as research for the article, creating it’s structure or layout is done during scheduled blocks leaving free time to just create.

The time after 7 is used for company related actions such as updating the crm, planning or catching up on articles and stories I have spotted during the day.

Pipeline Vanity

What is the purpose of the pipeline?

The sales pipeline is the business end of the sales funnel. When you can start to actually put some hard figures against prospects they can move into the pipeline. It is the job of the marketing team and the sales team to move these prospects through the funnel to a point where a monetary value, time frame and probability can be called an opportunity.

While sales are in the funnel they can be moved backwards and forwards but the aim is to get them all through to the pipeline stage. Having 1,000 early stage leads in the funnel should equate to a healthy pipeline but the pipeline may not always be as healthy as it seems at first glance.

Most pipelines suffer from pipeline vanity. The pipeline doesn’t reflect reality. It is inflated. People want their contribution to the pipeline to reflect well on them, and at every stage, a shine is put on the pipeline that amplifies the small over optimistic rounding up of the last stage.

To understand why this happens we need to look at who is involved with compiling the pipeline.

When a salesperson takes over the lead to the pipeline from the marketing funnel they have to qualify the lead. If the marketing team are using the growth marketing approach they will have been building the lead to an opportunity and it should be handed over as largely qualified. But salespeople are hungry for leads so often they run with them while they really should be still in the marketing funnel. This causes a problem as the sales people have now a number of unqualified leads. The sales person is often under pressure to show a healthy pipeline, and this can be at the expense of an accurate pipeline. Deals which are unqualified appear in the pipeline.

We have seen an example of this where a telecoms company require their salespeople to forecast 75% of their quarterly in advance. They are asked to commit to these deals. We have spoken to the sales people and they all said that their forecasted pipeline was over 50% made up of deals that they at best hoped would come in during that quarter. Often their target was achieved largely of deals that did not appear on their quarterly forecast.

Salespeople are lazy, they go for the easiest deals, they don’t prospect for new business if they can get away with not having to, and I say this having been a sales person and having managed sales people. All sales people enjoy the win, few enjoy the work. So when their sales manager asks to see their pipeline the sales person is inclined to over inflate some deals. They increase the monetary value, they bring forward close dates, they increase their probability to close and they include deals which they really don’t know enough about to include in any pipeline or even worse deals which they know to be dead but removing them will leave a big hole.

The sales manager should be on top of this and work through the sales persons pipeline with them ensuring each deal is correctly qualified, too often this does not happen. The sales manager may feel the need to add their own gloss onto the pipeline. They will have to present the pipeline to their management and that needs to reflect well on them and their ability to run a sales team.

By the time the management team get to see the pipeline and forecast the collective total of rounding up, phantom deals and a little bit of polish can give the impression that the sales team are flying and the marketing team are feeding them high-quality deals.

However, the tweaking and polishing may not be over at that point. The management team have to answer to investors and shareholders. The temptation can be to pull deals forward, over estimate deal values and deal probability to look good and maybe even to hide any short comings. You may tweak the pipeline to make you feel better about things, to bury your head rather than address an oncoming problem but the problem is still there. Get it out into the open and get real visibility of where you are as a business.

It should be obvious how damaging pipeline vanity can be to a business. Not knowing what deals are coming in and when removes the ability to accurately forecast income and cash flow. Businesses can fail because of pipeline vanity. But it goes no. I have been called into businesses to address the overlong sales cycle, only to find that the majority of the deals in the pipeline were not real. They would never close as the customers never had any intention of buying the services.

If you do not have a clear and accurate picture of your true pipeline you cannot manage your business. You cannot identify potential short falls or major problems within the marketing and sales teams.

One London based SaaS company reported that they had a pipeline of over £5 million, at the time double its turnover. They believed that their pipeline was strong enough to negate the need for ongoing marketing. They did not separate the marketing funnel from the sales pipeline, they had not qualified the leads and were including completely unqualified leads in their sales pipeline. This pipeline was presented to investors. They also believed that they had enough in the pipeline to cut back completely on marketing.

They only converted 4% of this reported pipeline in 12 months and an additional 6% of this pipeline in the following 12 months. The result of the misunderstanding and misreporting of the pipeline included having to take dramatic actions including redundancies.

Another company held two pipelines, one that they used internally and one they presented to investors. The outcome of this was that the company fell short of expectations and was unable to raise funds again from their initial investors.

Pipeline vanity can be eradicated easily but if you are looking at your pipeline now be prepared for a shock, when you apply some basic principles you may not like what you see.

The first simple action is to define company-wide qualification criteria. The sales person should be using the same qualification criteria as the board are presenting to the investors. If you are doing your own sales and don’t have a sales team you still need to define your qualification criteria. If you have been in business for a while you will have the luxury to be able to look at historic deals and then build qualification criteria that match what happened in those deals. If you don’t have that level of data you have to make a judgement call to what you call qualified and what information that you want to know before it can enter the sales pipeline.

The basic criteria may be if the customer has an assigned budget, you know when they will be looking to buy the service and who ultimately signs off the order. Without this most basic information, you do not have a forecastable opportunity to add to the pipeline. You should weigh your opportunities based on their likelihood to close. While it might be tempting to feel that because the customer said they were going to buy it that you should put this at 100% likely hood to come in. But verbal confirmation should really sit no higher than 60% unless you have an existing billing relationship with that customer.

I have painted the picture that pipeline vanity is the result of willful misreporting and while we feel that is the largest factor and another big contributor is simply different people reading the situation with the customer in a different way. One persons “the customer is ready to sign” is another persons, ” I think we need to address that technical question to win their confidence”.

Whatever your agreed criteria it is important that everyone who has an interest in the pipeline understands what the criteria are and applies it to any input they provide. When you now apply this to the pipeline you will see a lot of deals drop out of the pipeline. That will be scary. But now you have a true view. It’s better to see 10 real deals than 100 where 90 of them are phoney. It just may not feel like it right now.

If you are managing the pipeline in Excel stop. That’s bad. Don’t do it. Get yourself a CRM system. Get your team all working on the same system, filling in the same field. Not only will you get better visibility you will also eliminate one of the big pipeline accuracy problems. Excel spreadsheets are hard to compare. You will not see trends, you will not see that deal hasn’t been in the pipeline for 6 months, but it’s 12. You will not see that some sales people will recycle deals back onto the pipeline when its a little light for them that month.

Pipeline vanity isn’t just something that is a problem in small business. We have seen it in large enterprises, where the phrase bullshit gets fed up the line is never truer. Some companies have even been known to book deals that are still in the pipeline to make their figures look better.

If you take one thing away from this post please make it about pipeline accuracy and remove pipeline vanity from your company, no matter how scary it makes your pipeline look.

Building a Twitter follower audience

We work in the B2B sector and while I am a fan of saying there is no B2B or B2C it’s all people to people there are obvious differences.

We have found this carrying out some side work for one of our friends, who import premium Normandie Cidre. They have done a terrific job and have got their great cider onto the shelves of Tesco. Because they had this early success they haven’t gone through the long hard slog of building an audience online through social media. So we offered to help them build that audience. They have focused on Instagram and Facebook and we are starting to look at Twitter.

We have previously had great success in building a Twitter following for companies. This time though the audience is different and we are not controlling the content or frequency of posting.

So while we have increased their following by over 200% it’s not been plain sailing. If we benchmark it against a similar campaign we are picking up about 40% fewer followers for the same level of work. We are putting this down to two factors, the first, mentioned before is that we are not in control of posting so can not influence the type of post or the time. Followers want great content and we provide this for our clients but we know nothing about Cider so we can’t produce this for 6somewhere without using one of our external team, and as we are doing this for a favour we don’t want to pick up the additional costs. The second reason is that the follower profiles are different to our usual audience.

Thinking that Twitter users are al alike has resulted in unusual results. We know normally that we can get a company from 0 to 1000 high-quality relevant followers in about 6-8 weeks. With non-business Twitter accounts, we think this time scale will be 10-12 weeks.


Are you a Microsoft reseller clone?

Are you a Microsoft reseller clone?

There is no doubt that Microsoft has successfully managed the transition from shifting licences to selling services. Office 365 is a great product set and growing. Customers love it. People think Microsoft is good again and there is even talk about Microsoft being cool. Microsoft has been many things over the years but cool hasn’t been one of them.

Building a business selling Microsoft products has long been a solid approach for IT services companies. Yes, there has been a difficult transition from making a margin on selling products to having to make more out of providing services, such as migration, but most partners have grown in this market.

But there is one thing that Microsoft do struggle with and that is their marketing, and the marketing services they provide to their partners.

Personally, I don’t like the TV advert for Microsoft Surface, they are all American, actually, I actively hate them, I think they try to find the most annoying people in America and pump them into my living room. Do remember that click advert, painful. And the Microsoft Cloud adverts are big picture things that don’t really relate to the UK. The rare ads that are localised have the most annoying music, am I just being grumpy, I don’t think so. Microsoft is a beast and it fails on localising marketing.

Microsoft does provide marketing for its partners. But if every partner access the same marketing resource how do you differentiate yourselves from the competition. I have seen people simply rebrand the Microsoft marketing material. If a customer is speaking to a few companies, they may well see exactly the same material from multiple partners. Microsoft partners should work hard to differentiate themselves.

Around 10 years ago Microsoft was working with its early cloud service providers who were selling Hosted Exchange email. Microsoft ran workshops with the larger partners and these workshops talked about the research they had to why customers bought the product. After these sessions, most of the partners changed their marketing message to the one suggested by Microsoft. And the result was everyone had exactly the same message. They even provided a video that went up on the hosted exchange partners websites. That might have been what Microsoft wanted but in a competitive market looking identical to your competitor isn’t going help you win business.

I was working with one the UK’s largest hosted exchange companies at the time, we followed suit and relayed the Microsoft messaging at first but quickly realised that it was a mistake.

We worked on our own benefits lead messaging, it went on to be expanded on the new cloud services such as hosted desktop that we launched. we created what I called our 5 pillars of wisdom, which were the 5 key benefits customers would get from adopting cloud services. Ten years later these 5 messages are everywhere but at the time we had to research what our customers thought and look at their priorities. We got it right which is why the 5 pillars of wisdom would be very familiar to anyone selling cloud services as they are the sales message, in various forms that we all give now. I am not claiming that everyone copied what we wrote, they just came to the same conclusion (actually some did directly copy us, 2 word for word!).

But what we did do is move us away from the pack and make our messaging unique. We were selling the same as our competitors but we moved the conversation away from technical discussions to business discussions. We had successfully created a new approach that differentiated us.

Now, whenever I am working with a company who are selling highly competitive services I look at how we can differentiate them. If you are selling Office 365 you could talk about how great your support is but that’s exactly what other companies will be doing so you need to think a little harder and be smarter than your competition.

The value you offer your customers is the understanding of all the elements that combine to make up a solution, however, complex or simple. This needs to be conveyed to your customers. Most companies stop at case studies, case studies are a fantastic way of breathing life into they way you present your company. And many companies have realised the value of having video case studies, letting the end customer be the face of the company. But there is far more that can be done.

If you understand your customers buying journey you can start to produce relevant material for each stage.

If the prospect is very early in the process that will be just forming ideas, at this stage it’s up to you to get inside their minds and help them form these ideas. But they won’t have even contacted you. I doubt you can read minds but you can prepare for this by producing content that is relevant for this stage. And for different audiences. Create a technical piece of content, a piece about cost benefits etc but separate them and make them for the right audience at the rights stage of the buyer’s journey. If you are trying to sell me Office 365 (I already use it so I won’t be buying from you sorry) I’d want to know the benefits my business would get, but if m colleague was investigating he’d want to know about the integration with third party services and so on.

And if customers are a bit further down the line I am a big fan of telling end customers exactly how they can do what you offer for themselves. Does that sound crazy? I have a Haynes manual for my car, it tells me how to do all the maintenance on my car, and if I did I would not pay garages to keep my ageing Mercedes on the road. But I don’t I do little more than top up the fluids and keep they tyres pumped up. Anything else and it goes off to the garage. I don’t have the time, skills, experience and tools to do it myself. So even if you tell someone how to pull together a Microsoft based solution only a handful will do it for themselves, and those guys would have never paid you what you deserve anyway, and the other will think these guys know what they are talking about, let’s go with them.

I could go on and will do in other posts but you start to see that to win your customers in a competitive market you need to differentiate yourself and not just look like yet another Microsoft reseller.