Feb 04, 2019

How to Prevent Data Breaches Through Sales and Marketing Alignment

According to business statistics, there are hundreds and often thousands of data breaches each year due to weak cybersecurity. These lead to millions of customer records containing personal identifiable information (PII) being exposed. This can spell big problems for any business, but particularly for B2Bs, like tech firms, who deal with large amounts of sensitive customer and client data. That’s to say nothing of all that employee and company info sitting in data storage.

In fact, the bigger your operation is, the more scrutiny it will face in the event of a cybersecurity breach. Take this sobering statistic by Gemalto into account: 70% of customers will not take a chance on a business that has suffered a data breach. This is particularly relevant to those smaller B2Bs looking to land big clients, because over 70% of digital document security attacks target small businesses.

Hacks and breaches present themselves in a frustratingly wide variety of ways, too. These include:

  • Compromised websites
  • Infected software
  • Weaknesses in IPs
  • Vulnerable content management systems

But, as the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. That’s why businesses big and small need to have an incident response plan in place for cybersecurity attacks and breaches. And any response plan is going to be most effective when both your marketing and sales departments are properly aligned and on the same page (and it will help your overall sales and marketing strategies, too). Below we look at how to prevent data breaches through just this type of alignment.

Stem system proliferation

When any new, smaller business gets off the ground, it is likely operating with a single CRM program in place. As a business grows, however, it’s not uncommon to implement new software solutions to accommodate new departments and initiatives. This of course has its benefits, but one liability is adding too many programs to the point where they are competing with each other within an operation at the same time.

Now, it’s understandable where this desire to implement new solutions comes from. CRM software tools may be correct in touting their features that help reveal deeper customer insight, but those features are practically worthless if your data is fragmented, uncoordinated, and spread over different systems. Those B2Bs in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space are particularly vulnerable to this occurrence because oftentimes, IT organizations are able to implement solutions without operational oversight.

The solution is simple: align your departments, streamline your systems, and consolidate them into one. This starts by conducting a full inventory of all systems in use and marrying all information into one overarching system according to the data policies of your vendors. The most crucial thing at this point is to put a program in place that clearly delineates system oversight between departments. More on this below.

Define data owners

If your company is big enough to justify having multiple data systems in place, then there needs to be a single system or application—a system of record—that functions as the prime source for customer and client data. All sales, marketing, and product data need to be in sync with this system of record in order to ensure the data is safe from cybersecurity breaches.

A regular audit to ensure customer data is in sync and operating holistically within the company data framework is thus mandatory. To effectively pull this off, it’s imperative to designate a single data owner for all systems. This person will be solely responsible for determining who has access to customer info. Their prime duties will be to monitor how long approved entities are accessing the data, tracking exceptions, and removing access when it’s no longer required.

It’s worth pointing out that, although your security and IT departments will be the ones implementing access controls, the data owners themselves do not need to come from these departments. By designating a specific data owner from marketing and sales, for example, you will not only be helping to align those two departments by clarifying goals and security protocols, but this new oversight will be that much more effective at protecting customer data.  

Don’t shift security risks between departments

Getting to the heart of sales and marketing alignment means both these departments not only communicate freely, but share responsibility as well. When departments fail in this synergy it can result in compromised data security, often in the form of vaguely defined (or even non-existent security policies). The solution lies in the clarity.

Companies need to have clearly defined security policies that take into account:

  • Acceptable use of data
  • Encryption and password standards
  • Access management protocols.

For everyone with data access, regardless of department, rights should be clearly defined according to their role. Letting everyone in every department know their specific security responsibility stems data vulnerabilities. More than that, it makes it that much harder for one department to pass the buck or shift risk to another.


If there’s one overarching theme to the above tips, it’s the notion of eliminating data silos, especially when it’s data from both marketing and sales departments.

On a final note, always beware of marketing tech, sales tech, CRM and automation tools that aren’t integrated.

For this data to exist in operational silos often means duplicate customer information, inaccurate system data, and customer profiles that are wildly divergent between sales and marketing departments.

Again, when both these departments are properly aligned, your business won’t suffer from these issues and your data will be that much more secure.

Related Articles:

Aligning Sales and Marketing – New Perspective on an Old Problem

Keeping Sales and Marketing in Sync with Lead Definitions

The Twin Pillars of Profit: Sales and Marketing

The Mistake of Relying on Technology when Aligning Sales and Marketing

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