25 Years in the Scraping – My story of “Self-Generation”

Self-generation, B2B Data, Scraping, GDPR

The Death of Scraping Part 2 - Our BDM David Shrubsole discusses his own long journey with Self-generation and evaluates how these practices will have to change post GDPR.

Our guest blog writer this week is David Shrubsole, the Business Development Manager at Koju Media, here he shares his experiences over the years (1992-2018) with Self-generation.

“Self-generation” or “Self-gen” is the act of a Salesperson/Marketer generating their own leads based on personal outreach, account development, and referrals without relying on an outside marketing plan or additional expenditure:

My first experience of self-gen was in July 1992 at the Thomson Local Directory office in Staines, Middlesex – a full quarter of a century before the implementation of GDPR.

I was just starting out on my advertising sales career with no previous sales experience whatsoever, I was therefore employed as a TSR (TeleSales Representative) selling small semi-display advertisements.

We would collect local newspapers and magazines on a weekly basis to search for possible new leads, mainly in the trades and services pages. As we only had 2 computer terminals in the office, we would hand the publications over to the sales support staff to check against our current database for possible new leads. The trusty yellow highlighter pen would be employed to draw attention to any local businesses that we did not recognise from previous editions of the publication – these were always deemed to be the “hot leads.”

Any new businesses that were “Not on File” – e.g. not listed on the system (“CRM’s” had not yet been invented) would be handed back to us, glued to a page of plain A4, to be contacted A.S.A.P. We would also search the local competitor directories page by page, diligently looking for possible “directory converted” leads that would just need a small push to advertise with us.

By the time I joined Yellow Pages (now Yell) in October 2002, Self-gen had become a monthly KPI and formed part of my target. It was then possible to search for leads from home using the company laptop and internet connection which was provided free to field sales consultants working from home. (how did you search?)

The on-line advertising explosion started around the same time and the opportunities for companies to advertise via “new media” as it was then labelled, changed the landscape forever.

It was not possible to completely ignore the print media lead gen options, but you also needed to focus more and more time on the on-line options that were becoming very popular with advertisers. This was obviously much more time consuming but did usually unearth some real gems.

When I joined Groupon in October 2011 self-gen was basically the only way to generate new customers. Groupon at this time was still relatively new in the UK and I was given just 50 customers already on their CRM. The role was basically 95% self-gen. I could not have survived, and would not have earned any commission, at Groupon without self-generating my own leads. I can honestly say that I achieved all my targets from self-gen during my 4 years at Groupon.

The same also applied during my two years at Which? Trusted Traders, one of the KPI’s was a minimum of 20 self-gen leads per week, however most of the team used self-gen as their main source for new leads.

The goalposts were dramatically changed on 25th May 2018 with the new GDPR rules meaningit is no longer possible to “scrape” leads via the internet as this can risk a 4% fine of a company’s annual turnover.

Spending hours and hours searching the internet and using data without permission to find leads is no longer an option for any credible business. I believe this is a positive change for all of us in the marketing industry as we can now focus on the real business of B2B sales using the new methods readily available to all of us.

In Summation

The “death of scraping” is probably long overdue and should, in time, prove to be the safer option for all concerned in the marketing industry bearing in mind personal data protection and security is of paramount importance to everyone in the modern digital world.

If you haven’t already, please read part 1 of our “Death of Scraping series”, where we discuss why the similar practice of scraping information from the web is also no longer be acceptable under GDPR – as well as the steps you can make in order to become compliant.

Also, if you wish to discuss anything post GDPR, you can email David personally at david.shrubsole@kojumedia.com or call us on 01628 901081.

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