Starting your first outbound campaign? Here's a quick intro to some compliance areas you want to be aware of.

There is a common myth within the B2B sales world that, since we aren't calling consumers, we can pretty much do whatever we want (with regards to how we approach sales prospects). On a broad and practical level this is more or less true, however as with most things, the devil is always in the details.

One key area to be aware of is TCPA Compliance. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, passed in 1991, affects B2B prospecting in some significant ways. If you are using an autodialer (also known as a "predictive dialer") to perform your sales prospecting, you need to adhere to the guidance set forth in this Act. If you are NOT using a predictive dialer, then you are generally exempt from the key provisions, but you should always check with your attorney to be certain.

So what are the rules? Well, the TCPA states that it is illegal to call or send messages to wireless devices (key word: wireless devices) using an autodialer, without the express written consent of the called party. In the context of B2B sales prospecting, this is basically saying that you can't use a predictive dialer to call cell phones unless you have prior written consent from the person you are calling (I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you don't have that).

Many of you might be thinking, what's the big deal? After all, businesses don't really use cell phones. Most of them have ported phone lines and office numbers. The truth is, it all comes back to the quality and nature of your prospect list. For example, we ran a campaign for a company that wanted us to call people who had entered their phone number at a booth during an industry event. A high percentage of these phone numbers turned out to be mobile numbers, so a predictive dialer can't be used. Many "new business" lists also contain cellphone numbers. For example, when I started Outboundify, I listed my personal cell phone number on a few forms because I hadn't set up the office line yet. I am sure that some data providers are still selling my cellphone number on a B2B list and the people buying it have no idea its not a landline. 

The fines for disobeying this Act are substantial and can certainly put you out of business. According to an industry report, companies have received fines of up to $11,000 per incident. And even if you hired a third party to make the calls on your behalf (i.e. outsourcing), your company could still be held liable for the negligence of the call center that you hired. Therefore, it is extremely urgent that you only work with call centers that are aware of TCPA and have procedures in place to protect you from these outcomes.

If you have a list of prospects and want to know whether it contains mobile/cellphone numbers you can do a Google search for "mobile scrub" and see a list of companies that provide this service. They will run a merge/purge against the Neustar wireless number database and flag all records that are associated with a known wireless number. Some list scrubbers are less reputable than others, so if you are looking for a reliable provider feel free to shoot me an email directly at mick@outboundify.com. 

I hope this post was useful and helped you begin to think about the importance of compliance in B2B sales prospecting. Again, the consequences are severe but they can be easily avoided by staying informed and partnering with the right providers.