Prospecting in Uncertain Times – what we learned in the credit crunch that we can apply now

COVID-19 coronavirus, finance and crisis concept, US president Franklin`s eyes and face mask on 100 dollar money bill. Corona virus affects global stock market. World economy hit by pandemic fears.

Business hasn’t stopped, it never does but we are all exposed to the disruption to business as a result of Covid-19. 

The question which has come up the most in conversations I’ve had over the last two weeks is “should be marketing or prospecting at all during this time?”. To answer that I’m gonna draw parallels to the disruption in 2008 was the start of the credit crunch as this was the last major disruption to businesses.

And this will be where we will be in the coming next 3 to 6 months. Take a look at what you can do to change your sales and marketing during this time to ensure that the exit this crisis in the best possible position.

You have to accept that the deals in your pipeline at the beginning of March may never bear fruit when this crisis is over. And it will be over. Do not let yourself find yourself in a position of zero when the rest of your sector has maintained activity and have a healthy pipeline.

What Should We Do?

I will start by recognising that many businesses are not only surviving during this time but thriving. These industries include logistics, e-commerce and IT. Using IT is an example, companies need new connectivity, unified communications tools such as video conferencing, remote working solutions, devices and security to cover the new homeworkers. For IT companies now is the time that they can help their customers and speed up digital transformation programs. But even they will need to adjust how they market and sell.


Outbound marketing and sales prospecting will be harder and your expectations of outcomes should be tempered. It’s unlikely that people will be ready to make decisions as fast as before, going in for a quick close is likely to result in disappointment. People are worried about their own jobs and the jobs of their team, for many of them this is a number one priority and an unsolicited cold approach will be ignored. 

If you are continuing cold calling the remember a lot of your target will be at home and even if I have the phone redirected to them they may not be in the position to welcome the call as they possibly juggling childcare and work. Your call could well be a real imposition on their work/home balance so expect to get the cold shoulder. A better approach would be to use other methods such as email and connecting over social media to arrange a more convenient time to call. 

If you are using email then you should be aware of the current situation and again not looking for a hard sell. Anything that you do should be tied into some high-value content that will help your prospect. Don’t try to present your sales pitch as help, offering an extra 14 days on a trial isn’t helping anyone. Either offer real help or talk about what will be at the end of this. And at this time when we’re all thinking about our family and friends make sure that your emails are highly personalised and showing a human side to your business, don’t ever send out non targeted spammy emails this is a waste of your time and can ruin the reputation of you and your company.

Digital Marketing

It is time to embrace and expand your digital marketing strategies. These will be essential for growing your pipeline during this time. If you haven’t ever focused on these then now is the time to start doing so. Many companies are panicking and cutting back spending, so this means less competition, we are seeing the cost of acquisition dropping by 75% in some industries, which makes it an ideal time to be prospecting even if you have a lower budget. It is a good way to repurpose the budget that had been put-aside for trade shows and physical events. This is an area which when done well can produce a low-cost lead but when done badly can burn cash. Don’t rush into this if you are not experienced without speaking to someone who can help you plan and execute this properly

That is my only sales pitch in this article! 

Inbound Marketing 

People who are continuing to work with often have more time as they are not travelling or in as many meetings. Many are using this time to educate themselves and research products and services for when their businesses are back running at full speed.

Your marketing strategy should be aligned to this increased awareness phase. If you are not using inbound marketing techniques then you really should be adopting them immediately. They take a while to bear fruit but this is the time to be doubling down on your content, working on relevant keywords to boost you SEO, in the knowledge that acting during this time will give you a lead over your competitors. 

Provide your future prospects with high-quality content that is relevant for the awareness stage of the buyers’ journey. This isn’t about selling your product at this stage, it’s about building authority and trust. During this time you should be attracting a lot of interest in your content. This will result in an increased pipeline but because of companies being risk-averse you will not be able to progress the sales at the rate that you are used to. So, it is more important than ever to make sure you have set up a lead nurturing sequence to move these sales through your pipeline. Don’t leave it to the sales guys who will jump on the lead and try to close it there and then – you will lose good opportunities gained during this time by overeagerness and only for them to be forgotten over the coming months. Create a lead nurturing sequences with relevant content and use marketing automation to take care of this and never lose an opportunity through the inevitable forgetting distant prospects. 

Think about what stage in the buyers’ journey your prospect is at and expect them to spend longer in the awareness and consideration phase than they normally would. 

You need to directly address the prospects in your existing pipeline. Aim for pipeline clarity even if this means removing unrealistic opportunities that were looking great a month ago. Pipeline vanity will not result in sales, it will just hide the problem. Be there to answer difficult questions for your prospects; the initial problems you may have been helping your customers with might have changed. Don’t be frightened of hearing projects are being pulled because right now you’re better to know where you stand than to falsely think you’re in a good position.

Decision making will be put on hold. People are going to be incredibly risk-averse. Now is not the time to go in for a hard close. Be sensitive to the situation, there is a lot of uncertainty, people maybe have family members who are under threat of losing their job or unwell.

It Will End So Be Ready

The landscape will change over the coming months, people are planning about what they’re doing when they come out of the other side and when we do come out it will happen quickly. We can’t ignore the situation but we must not get caught up in it and end up doing nothing. If a business is to survive it we need to continue prospecting and build a pipeline. How we do that needs to change. The results that we are expecting need to be more realistic. But to stop prospecting and marking right now is a surefire way to damage the longer-term success of your business. Your marketing mix will need to change and it needs to reflect the environment we are operating but now it’s time to increase your efforts in the right areas to ensure your business survives or even thrives during this period. 

Busy busy busy

It’s been a busy time here at Doogheno, so busy that we have found ourselves almost at the end of August, how did that happen?

We have been working with some more new customers. One is a biopharma start-up that is looking to raise £25 million for expansion into the Americas. We have produced their pitch material including a detailed Information Memorandum.

We are working with another start-up that is looking to raise £350k and we are working on their pitch deck at the moment.

And we have started working with a cloud service provider, which is right up my street and we are creating content for them.

Also we have just completed the third annual survey of UK technology adoption for ServiceteamIT and the results of that will be published shortly.

More Customer Wins

In the last month or so we have started working with some exciting new customers.

They include:

Resilience Energy – a solar energy company that just went through a successful CrowdCube fund raising.

The Difference Engine – a recruitment company for the tech sector, run by people who have been there and done it themselves.

Woodalls – they supply appliances to the trade.

SCC – a two billion Euro MSP who has flown under the radar for far too long.

ManyChat Agency Partner

ManyChat Agency Partner

Doogheno are pleased to announce that they are now an ManyChat Agency Partner. We use ManyChat mainly with our Facebook advertising clients to add chatbots which help close more customers for a lower cost.

Messenger marketing is quickly changing the way people connect with companies online. Our mission is to help businesses grow by building meaningful relationships with their customers. ManyChat makes it easy to grow your Messenger audience by providing a complete set of tools to convert anyone into a subscriber. Whether you already have an audience or are just starting out – we’ve got you covered. Messenger is the most engaging channel with average 80% open rates and 4 to 10 times higher CTRs compared to email.

Doogheno provide multiple chatbot platforms for our customer. To find out more contact our team.

Remember ASPs anyone?

Having worked in the world of cloud before it was called cloud (remember ASPs anyone?) I am still excited to see the continual developments that cloud computing enables. 

Platforms such as Microsoft Azure and AWS provide so many additional services built on their core cloud technology.  Here we think nothing of spinning up a virtual desktop on AWS to run testing or  building Chatbots that use multiple cloud services to deliver a great end user experience. 

And this week’s CloudExpo Europe at Excel in London is a very real example of where the cloud market has gone.  Under the CloudExpo banner are colocated shows including Cloud and Cyber Security Expo, Smart IOT, Big Data and AI World.  All demonstrating how cloud has enabled all businesses access to technology that if it had existed 15 years ago would have required large dedicated in-house infrastructure and crucially expensive and hard to come by technical expertise to set it all up. 

When I was involved in early desktop virtualisation projects companies had 10-20 or so applications to virtualise.

We host no services internally and use over 75 cloud based services to deliver services to our customers. 

We use Google, Microsoft and Amazon AWS and services for core applications and then what seems a never ending list of applications like and Slack. 

Running a business like ours would not have been possible 10 years ago.  Our infrastructure costs would have crippled up. 

Not that the cloud isn’t without its own issues and businesses are acutely aware of the death by a thousand cuts that the small monthly bills inflict when they are totalled up.  When you move out of the free tier of these services the $30 a user a month bills rack up quickly. 

We have created a stack for marketing automation for small business which we use for our customers.  It does 95% of what something like Hubspot delivers but for a fraction of the price and integrates with more third party platforms.  This is something we couldn’t have achieved even 5 years ago. 

So as I walk round CloudExpo Europe this week I will be looking for more ways to bring this technology to our customers.  

And I’ll be popping into the Blockchain Expo, too early for most of our customers but the future is now and we help our customers access the future. 

Possible Brexit Outcomes and What They Mean to Your Business

In recent research of over 1,000 British companies, it was found that just 20 per cent of businesses said they have started planning for multiple possible outcomes from the Brexit negotiations. The research, Beyond the Cloud: UK Technology Research 2018 carried out by ServiceteamIT and Doogheno also showed that 45 per cent had no plan to make adjustments, with 35 per cent saying they now recognise the need to start planning.

For all that has been written about Brexit, and the ongoing debate whether its right or wrong reality is that the Government has already triggered Article 50 and the end of March 2019 we will leave the EU. And this will impact business. This may be with a long transition period or it may be an abrupt break. Potentially we will still have frictionless trade with the EU and have access to new trade deals around the world, however, it is highly likely that whatever the outcome it will be disruptive to business. While only 10 per cent of survey respondents felt that Brexit has already had an impact on their business so far 31 per cent believe it will be the biggest signal external cause facing their business in the next year.

No one can be clear at this point of what the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be, from the wildly optimistic to the doomsayers predicting food shortages and planes being grounded. But businesses need to cut through the conjecture and look at the possible realities they could be facing.

Norway Style Brexit – the UK effectively remaining a member of the EU without influence and voting rights, still working to EU law, accepting freedom of movement and having frictionless trade with the rest of Europe. While technically this would be delivering Brexit based on the terms of the referendum it would be very unpopular with many leave voters and it is unlikely that the Government will pursue this approach as it crosses multiple of the red lines set out for negotiation.

Bespoke – The Government’s preferred Chequers solution is to have a deal like no other country given our unique history and relationship with the European Union. This outcome is the hardest to negotiate and while there has been some agreement there has been frustratingly slow progress in the negotiations, with both sides feeling that the other is being unreasonable. It is highly complex having to untangle decades of legislation and even if a broad stroke agreement is reached it will take years of additional negotiation to define and agree on all the elements. The Government is under considerable pressure to not have an extended transition period from within its own ranks but an extended period would be needed to minimise the possible impact on business and citizens of both the UK and the EU. It is becoming increasingly likely that not all the terms could be agreed before the end of March 2019 so there may be an extended transition period where the UK would abide by EU law even though Britain would not be a part of the EU. This would free the UK to open trade deal talks with other countries while having space to plan an orderly exit without it being likened to falling off a cliff. For business, this would mean a smoother transition but it would also extend the period of uncertainty about what rules and regulations they would need to operate under and hamper planning for the coming years.

Canada plus plus plus deal – (modelled on the 2016 deal EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that took 7 years to negotiate)
Favoured by the Brexitiers as it achieves most of their wishes; it removes 99% of the trade barriers but it is not built around the single market and require additional regulation. But there are many exclusions still making it hard to trade with the EU. And it doesn’t resolve the Irish border issue.

No Deal Brexit – If the UK and the EU fail to come to any agreement, then there is a high possibility of a no deal Brexit or hard Brexit. In this worst-case scenario, the UK would have no access to the EU market, there would be no recognition of mutual laws and regulations, the UK would fall back on World Trade Organisation tariffs and the UK would be the only country in the world without a single trade deal. If a no deal Brexit is looking likely then it is possible that the UK and the EU may agree to extend the negotiation time. As no deal would impact both parties, and negotiations are moving in the right direction all be it slowly, this is becoming an increasingly likely scenario. While it will ultimately allow for a better outcome it does also mean an extension to the period of uncertainty which will result in a decision making paralysis for many businesses.

Restart the whole process
– There are growing calls for a second referendum, or a people’s vote, on the final deal. It is possible that parliament may not have the stomach to pass a deal which they know is not in the best interest of the country and defer their decision making again to the people of the country. This could be in the form of a second referendum or a general election. At the time of writing this outcome is highly unlikely but if voting changed in line with the current projections it could result in business as usual with Europe, although the political fallout would undoubtedly be disruptive.

As the final outcome is unknown businesses should now be planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

Not all companies have shied away from being public about their planning Airbus, for example, have said they are starting to stockpile parts which are normally just in time, 50 London-based banks have approached Eurozone banking regulators about relocating key services and BMW have said they may have to stop production entirely in the UK. While some of the statements by business have been politically motived, such as Amazons warning about civil unrest within 2 weeks of Brexit, much of it is industry experts understanding the full impact of the disruption to their businesses.

To provide some clarity the UK Government is releasing guidance to business and citizens about the possible impact of a no deal Brexit. The EU has already issued 60 preparedness notices that layout its position if the negotiations result in no deal. The effect of the no deal positions is far-reaching, covering aviation, agriculture and industry sectors including technology. Every industry should be preparing for each outcome. The impact on technology used across all industries goes from the fairly trivial such as revoking .eu domain names too far more complex, such as the transfer of EU citizens data to a third country. In the event of a hard no deal Brexit the UK would become a third country at the end of March 2019. And while GDPR would be incorporated into UK law the European Commission would need to make an Adequacy Decision for data to be transferred to and from the UK, meaning that it considers that the third country in question ensures an ‘adequate’ level of data protection. This would not be guaranteed and it certainly would be instant.

Understanding the potential impact of such rulings is the responsibility of business both in the UK and the EU and it should be undertaken immediately.

I am a Brexit Advisor for Enterprise Nation covering marketing, so if you want to discuss this let me know.


As a business owner, I like to be able to see into the future. My days are focused on planning and forecasts and of course executing those plans.
Over the past few years I have worked with companies in France, Germany and the States. Currently, I have two in going conversations about work in multiple European countries.
But how can I plan for this if I don’t know what the rules will be?
There are less than 200 days before Brexit and we don’t know what’s going on.
Right now we are operating on SNAFU, situation normal all..well you can fill in the rest.
This state of limbo is just the start of uncertainty, even if an agreement is reached it will be so broad that how it impacts individual industries won’t be seen for a number of years.
But it is already impacting businesses and lives. My business is supported by an EU backed initiative that provides access to help and mentoring. That will go. A friend told me on Friday that he is officially at risk, a pre-redundancy state, as the company that he worked at for eight years is partially funded by the EU.
It could be argued that these programs could continue as the government would be able to use some of the money that we’ll no longer be giving the EU. But the government has given no commitment to any such undertaking.
In the run-up to the referendum, we were told that the money we gave could be reallocated into the NHS. But the figures bandied about by the politicians didn’t account for support of existing projects.
I understand that the amount of projects funded by the EU in the UK doesn’t amount to the money we pay in. But there has been no talk of ring-fencing money for these existing projects.
This is just one example of the uncertainty we face.
We were told it would all be simple and that we’d be better off. I thought then, as I do now, that there could be some real benefit of being out of the EU. But my worries about our lack of ability to negotiate a beneficial exit have unfortunately been proven to be true.
No one, remainer or leaver, is going to be satisfied by the negotiated outcome. These things should have discussed in far more detail before the referendum. We were ill-formed and ill-prepared.
That is why I am supporting a second referendum based on what we know when a final deal is reached.

And for those of you who don’t know what SNAFU means look it up, there is a lot to learn in this world but some things never change.

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.”


And if you found this article of use you will be interested in



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