How (And Why) To Leverage Your Companys Privacy Programs During The Sales Process

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  • Jodi Daniels is a privacy consultant and Founder/CEO of em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:"">>Red Clover Advisors, one of the few Women’s Business Enterprises focused on privacy.


    By definition, privacy isn't flashy. After all, the entire point of privacy is to keep personal information hidden from people who shouldn't see it, not to dress it up in sequins and parade it down Main Street at the front of a marching band. Privacy is also not just about the hidden, unseen parts like security; it's about using it in ways customers expect (privacy policies, being upfront about data use and more) and only in the ways that have been agreed to.

    In contrast, sales, by definition, is all about getting attention. If you're in sales, you want everyone to know about your product or your company, and you aren't above parades if it will help get you in front of the right people.

    But the growth of e-commerce has spawned an ever-growing body of privacy legislation that has permanently altered the way companies interact with existing and potential customers. From my perspective, this means that privacy is now a product that can, and should, be sold.

    Privacy regulations have changed "business as usual."

    Over the past five years, digital privacy rights have become increasingly important to consumers, insurers and governments. Multiple countries and U.S. states have passed comprehensive consumer privacy legislation that strictly regulates how businesses collect, use and share their customers' sensitive personal information.

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    These new laws don't affect every business, but they have changed consumer expectations and best practices in a very real way. And if current legislative trends continue, I believe it's reasonable to expect that, eventually, all companies will be subject to some type of privacy law.

    Companies that proactively build privacy programs have a genuine opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and that's what sales is all about, isn't it? If you want to integrate your privacy program into your sales processes (and you should), you need to train your sales team on how your privacy program works and add your privacy practices to your sales collateral.

    Here's how:

    Train your sales team.

    Your sales team has probably spent a lot of time being trained by your product team, marketing team, customer service team and business team. That's a good thing. As your public face, your sales team is essential to your ability to grow your revenue, brand recognition and market share. You want them to know everything about your business so they can effectively meet your customers' needs and address their concerns.

    Now it's time to train them on your privacy program. If your sales teams add your privacy program to their pitch decks or sales presentations, you can turn something you need to do anyway into something that makes you stand out as a consumer-first, forward-thinking company.

    Push your privacy in your sales collateral.

    Privacy programs are most effective when they're a cross-functional effort with representation from all functions across your organization. Sales and marketing teams are already natural partners, which means educating current and prospective customers on your privacy program should be a fairly easy process. Looping in your legal, IT and customer service departments will deliver a consistent, cohesive customer experience across all your channels as well.

    Here are three steps you can take to add your privacy practices to your sales collateral:

    1. Build a trust center. A trust center, also known as a preference center, is an easy-to-find, visually appealing page in your app or on your website that explains your data collection and security practices in simple terms. Trust centers make compliance easier, but they're also a great sales tool because they allow your sales team to quickly show hard proof of the value they are promising.

    Your trust center should include an updated privacy policy that is free of legal jargon, a list of the types of data you're collecting and why, who has access to the data and an explanation of how consumers can amend or delete their data. Boost confidence that you walk the talk by including any security certifications and how your company has complied with applicable laws and include a data protection addendum if you have one. 

    Some of the "must-haves" for your trust center aren't really a job for the sales team, which is why it's so important to build a multidisciplinary privacy team. Sales and marketing can make sure the messaging is on point, legal can make sure it's compliant, and IT can make sure it's technically feasible. 

    2. Add explainers wherever you can. Most privacy laws mandate companies give consumers the ability to either opt out of or opt in to having their data collected, shared or sold. It's also common to require the same options for receiving marketing messages. Instead of just putting a toggle button on your site, include a callout button, pop-up or simple text to explain exactly what the choice entails and why you're offering it.

    Doing this will not only show your customers you're willing to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to consumer privacy, but it will also increase their awareness of what their privacy rights are and educate them on what to look for from other companies.

    3. List privacy and security as a benefit of a product or service. Take a proactive approach. Show exactly what you do to offer privacy and security. You don't want to miss a sale because of fear of how data is going to be used — and it's definitely a possibility. A survey by Pew Research Center found that 52% of U.S. adults decided not to use a product or service because of how much personal information would be collected. That's a huge number and a potentially significant amount of lost sales. Get in front of that objection by putting out there how you take privacy seriously.

    Don't snooze and lose.

    You likely know the old saying, "Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation." Well, the opportunity to set your company apart by selling privacy is here. Make sure your sales team is prepared to capitalize on it.

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