January 30, 2018 By Mark Samuels 2 min read

Recent research suggested that organizations around the world are struggling to keep up with their sales goals due to data privacy concerns.

According to Cisco’s “2018 Privacy Maturity Benchmark Study,” which analyzed the importance of privacy processes in the wake of forthcoming legislation, almost two-thirds of companies experienced substantial delays in their sales cycles due to challenges related to data privacy.

Delays to the sales cycle can have damaging results for businesses. Security professionals should assess data concerns in their own organizations and detail the potential benefits of tighter privacy processes.

Data Privacy Concerns Cause Massive Sales Delays

The report revealed that privacy-related issues forced 65 percent of businesses to delay their sales cycles for an average of 7.8 days in 2017. The good news is that firms with a mature approach to privacy suffered less impact. In fact, privacy-mature organizations suffered average deferrals of 3.4 weeks, as opposed to 17 weeks for less advanced firms.

These mature companies also reported reduced losses due to data breaches, SecurityWeek reported. In addition, just 39 percent of privacy-mature organizations lost more than $500,000, compared to 74 percent of companies with unsophisticated privacy processes.

In many cases, according to the report, the length of the sales delay depended on the privacy model adopted by the business. Organizations with centralized approaches, for example, suffered an average delay of 10 weeks, while those with decentralized resources were delayed for an average of seven weeks. Firms that adopted a hybrid mix of the two approaches managed to cut delays down to less than five weeks.

Average sales delays also varied considerably according to location and sector. The report suggested countries and industries with tighter regulations and higher customer expectations experienced longer delays. Latin America topped the list with an average wait of 15.4 weeks, followed by Mexico (13 weeks) and Japan (12.1 weeks). In terms of industries, government and healthcare organizations suffered the longest deferral times.

The Link Between Data Privacy and the Sales Cycle

The research highlighted the importance of strong data privacy process. Simply put, privacy-mature organizations suffer shorter sales delays and experience lower losses from data breaches. It also emphasized the importance of making sure executives understand how data privacy concerns affect the sales cycle.

To reduce delays, businesses should:

  1. Ensure that salespeople have timely access to information on customer privacy concerns.
  2. Create teams to investigate customer privacy issues as they arise.
  3. Work with development teams to ensure that privacy is built in from the beginning.

In a press release accompanying the report, William Lehr, an economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), noted that the study provides “empirical evidence of the linkage between firm privacy policies and performance-relevant impacts.” He added that the research should help shape future understandings of privacy and cybersecurity.

As privacy regulations mount around the world, these insights will be valuable to help companies that handle customer data reduce sales delays.

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