Updated: Dec 3, 2020
What is the purpose of PR? One aim is to gain more credibility for your brand, which eventually increases your reputation, sales and engagement. In this vlog, we took a closer look at one particular aspect: sales. How do you use PR to benefits sales?
Building a strategic sales strategy is as important as the PR campaign itself, they’re connected parts of the same machine. Looking to use PR to benefit sales? Who better to hear from than Heidi Hamilton, sales management consulting expert and CEO at Priority Solutions.
With over 13 years of business success across the world, Heidi’s expertise and success lies in integrating marketing and sales to provide clear "click to close" results. Her clientele exists in Canada, South Africa, the UK and beyond.
Here, we’ve summarised some of the key points -- for a longer transcription, head over to the Priority Solutions blog.
People in the tech industry often have difficulty understanding how to build a sales pipeline, especially on a global level. What does that look like from a sales point of view?
"The biggest issue I see, especially in the tech industry, is wanting to sell to everybody. It should be about understanding what you are selling, to whom, and where the need is. That defines how large your market is.
"Understanding who your buyer is and why they would want to buy that, is the same as understanding your reader and why they would want to share something. Do the research. Look at what industries and particular companies are doing. What are the economic or technological challenges? Be culturally aware.
"The size of your market will help determine who wants what, and what they’re prepared to pay for it."
Once you understand your buyer, you can use PR to benefit sales and effectively communicate the brand or product. Though sales is often seen as pushy and money driven, viewing it as part of the communications process puts it in a different light. It’s not about speaking at your audience, it's about speaking to them.
Observing and listening to your audience is only half the story -- using the correct language and tone, finding your USP, communicating your mission is the other part.
And forget using money as an excuse -- a solid marketing campaign doesn’t warrant a big budget anymore. Work smarter, not harder, and choose your target audience carefully to avoid overspending on the wrong customer. On that note...
So how do you go about creating an effectively targeted audience, and why is that better than addressing a larger market?
"I’ve got the perfect example for you -- a lot of people now use LinkedIn as a means of targeting, and you can use it to get email addresses and send a blanket message to a whole lot of people.
"I had a client that did that, and I asked them to narrow that down to just 20 contacts, but they had to know what the size of the industry was like, what their recent challenges were, etc. This all involves a lot of work, it’s much easier to get a long contact list and send out one general email.
"But they only got 2 responses with that spray gun method, and in some cases they got blacklisted. When they approached 20 targeted individuals, they got 4 responses, and that’s just to date -- it’s an iterative process. People want to find the quick easy ways to cash in on relationships, but relationships get built by showing value."
It’s quality over quantity in this case. Though the faster route is tempting, putting in an extra 30 minutes of research can double your response rate. Targeting for sales is not far off from how you would target for marketing, or social media -- and the methods and the results are transferable across all three. A follower on Twitter could become a customer buying your product.
So hypothetically, how do you define a social media audience, that could go from a lead to a customer? Define the age range, the spending habits, the location, even what stage of life they are in. Use social listening to find out what conversations are happening around your business and brand.
Let’s tie the two together a little more: how would you use a PR win to leverage sales operations?
"Firstly I'd say look at who the target audience of that publication is, and I'd leverage that. You’ve already invested in it, so start researching those readers. If you can obtain access to that information, you can use marketing and sales to then look at what message resonated, and how you can retarget the reader with that content. Then you can show yourselves to be experts in that area, create a webinar, invite them, and then pass on that feed to your sales team.
"That’s the beauty of integrating these strategies. If you’re doing all these in isolation the company’s not going to function efficiently."
You can use PR to benefit sales in many ways -- the more interest PR draws in, the more sales go up. The more sales go up, the more reason there is to brag about your achievements in the press. Increasing your visibility on media outlets says one thing to your customers: you’re trustworthy.
But, if your product is flawed and doesn’t solve the pain point you’re addressing, then you’re set up to fail. If your communication strategy keeps falling flat, adjust your perspective. Is it how you’re selling, or what you’re selling?
Target and retargeting? How does that work?
"It’s about understanding the audience. You can gain such powerful tools from data. Without that data, you’re flying blind.
"Targeting means looking at an audience of a certain publication and understanding, for example, that they are between the ages of 30-49, they’re c-suite level, etc. -- whatever those demographics are, need to be translated into your target audience.
"Take that target audience, and look at what other publications they read. Find what message resonated with them from there, because a common theme will emerge. Leverage your brand to deliver that, and invite those readers to the next level of conversation.
"Retargeting is using that same audience in the same genre, but just taking the conversation to the next level."
So you’ve got your sales operation down -- you’ve found your audience, you’ve reached out, but your reputation is still lagging behind. Unsure of how to solidify your communications strategy and use PR to benefit sales?
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