You don’t need ‘opt-in’ to store a switchboard number

You don’t need ‘opt-in’ to store a switchboard number

The arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will add restrictions on many marketing channels, notably email, so is it time to blow the dust off B2B telemarketing?

So you cannot store the data of your B2B prospects without their permission and many marketers will struggle in this new landscape after the GDPR comes into play (2018?).

In the current draft of this new legislation, you will need ‘unambiguous consent’ to store a person’s personal data (that’s their work email address, name, job title, direct line etc) – direct marketing changes from a broadly opt-out system to an opt-in rule.

But there is one piece of data that could keep outbound marketing alive – the humble switchboard telephone number.

It’s not personal data, and neither is the company name or sector where they operate. Armed with this information, and a view of LinkedIn, telemarketing can reach parts other channels cannot touch (without permission).

How it could work

Imagine a CRM with company details including switchboard telephone numbers and a hyperlink to the prospect’s LinkedIn company page. From there you can view the names of all the senior executives and your outbound marketing stands a fighting chance.

Some may argue that getting past the receptionist or gatekeeper is impossible. My experience is that it is tough, but not impossible. If you are having zero success, you’re not doing it right.

(Tips on how to get past the gatekeeper can be found on my blog ’10 tips: Getting past the Gatekeeper’)

Inbound marketing driven by great content will always deliver the best sales leads – but you only have visibility of prospect’s that already know you, the much larger audience is executives who have yet to engage with your content marketing. My estimate is you are missing 80% of your opportunities if you don’t do cold calling (see Chart I).

You don’t need ‘opt-in’ to store a switchboard number

Cold calling done right can give your prospects a nice warm feeling because it uses human interaction, far less sterile than an email.

I’m not advocating marketers should drop email or direct mail – successful programmes are multi-channel – but maybe it’s time to invest in some telemarketing training for your team and prepare your CRM for a new way to do outbound marketing? 2018 is not that far away.


This post is part of a series about the General Data Protection Regulation; the full list of posts include ‘How Brexit impacts marketing data in the UK‘ | ‘3 tips: Steal my GDPR plan‘ | ‘The GDPR became law yesterday… and nobody cared‘ | ‘Get ready for Data Protection ambulance chasers‘ | ‘10 Must-know facts about the new EU data law‘ | ‘Want prospects to opt-in? Call them‘ | ‘You don’t need ‘opt-in’ to store a switchboard number‘ | ‘What can these guys teach you about opt-in marketing?‘ | ‘How content marketing will change after 2018‘ | ‘Winning Edge: Counter a direct threat


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