Are you alone right now? Even if you think you are, you’re probably not. As you read these words, it’s very likely that some intelligent digital agents are hovering over your virtual shoulder. Cookies and trackers—sometimes called “cross-channel customer success enablement”— are discovering what you care about based on where you spend your time. That’s just how business gets done online.
Most have made peace with the idea that bots will be collecting data on their online behavior, but they are considerably less forgiving of salespeople collecting the same data. This begs the question, as a salesperson, how much information should you collect?
If you’re in sales, you’ve likely experienced prospects confused or irritated when you reveal you know personal information. How do you decide when thorough backgrounding steps over your prospect’s privacy?
There are two huge forces in play here, blurring the lines of the personal and professional information: deploying social media for sales and bringing your own devices to the business (BYOD). Facebook can be both an online office space and chatroom for casual conversation. BYOD delivers official business communications into the prospect’s intimate personal space.
Will your next lead nurturing message be read on the office laptop or on a bedside smartphone? Where they read it makes a huge difference on how they receive it. Respecting your customer’s privacy really depends on making a separation between personal and professional messages, even if your prospect doesn’t.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your comment can’t stand close scrutiny by your boss in a “corrective action” meeting, don’t put it in writing, even in “evaporative media” like texting or Twitter. Don’t expect any online communication to be private.
3 Tips for Being Informationally Responsible
The best sales people understand the danger of knowing too much. Relationships are based on fragile foundations of trust, which means it’s better to give them control about what they want to tell you. Do they want to be notified about new special sales events? Keep good notes about each customer’s privacy boundaries and refer to everything you know about them before you send out your next communication.
Here are three tips for using prospect information more responsibly:
1. Only comment on clearly displayed information, like comments they’ve made in social media or details listed in their public profiles.
2. Collect the information you have on each account in a secure, central sales tool likeSalesWise, where nothing gets lost or shared accidentally.
3. Delete any customer data you’ve collected that that doesn’t directly pertain to potential sales or service after the sale.
Information and Belief
Our society is struggling to work out a new definition of privacy based on technological capabilities. In this environment, even relatively innocent researchable details can make clients uncomfortable and endanger deals. Don’t forget that the relationship between the buyer and the seller has always been personal; a blend of information and belief. Whatever you do, ensure you have the trust of your clients.