Sales reps have a jaundiced view of PR reps—if they think of them at all. Why is this? It’s because of the legacy of understanding between the two traditional roles. Sales sells stuff and PR promotes brand awareness. This antiquated way of thinking about both sales and PR is changing rapidly because of the rise of our Web-enabled, hyper-connected world and the resulting change in buyer behavior. Sales is responsible for building relationships that generate revenue; PR is responsible for the placement of key content that impacts short, medium and long-term horizons, which also produces sales leads. This new direction for PR as a lead source is key, and can create a symbiotic relationship between PR and sales. How does this happen?
THE BUYER JOURNEY
I recently spent two days with a client to map its “Buyer Journey.” We started the process by showing a picture of how the journey has changed.
The graphic nearby shows how prospects and customers are between 60% and 70% through their buy cycle before sales is even aware there is an opportunity. In today’s digital environment your prospects seek referrals and third-party validation that your products and solutions deliver on their promises.
In the next stage of the mapping section, we build out the digital personas and describe how and with what kind of content they interact as they are making a purchase decision. We also explore where prospects go to get this information.
FEED THE MAW
In the early stages of the Buyer Journey, (Awareness & Education), most prospects are thirsty for third-party opinions and thought leadership.
PR’s job is to proactively scout out these opportunities and “sell” your thought leadership in order to earn media placements for your company.
The by-products of PR’s efforts are thought leadership pieces that fuel your marketing pipeline, and must be woven strategically into your company’s lead nurture campaigns throughout the Buyer Journey.
For users of marketing automation, this can hit closer to home with sales.
For example, Marketo has a feature that integrates with Salesforce allowing the salesperson to launch and track his or her own mini campaigns.
Just recently, one of our sales reps used one of my published thought leadership articles in such a mini campaign to get appointments with VPs at several targeted companies. This is an example of how high-value content created by PR can directly serve sales to get appointments and opportunities.
At the middle stages of the Buyer Journey (Consideration and Evaluation), the PR team can continue to supply content that assists sales and helps to produce leads.
I was working with an IT company last year when its largest competitor was acquired. The company was interviewed by a publication in the space regarding the impact of this acquisition on the market. This single article positioned my client as a thought leader and, consequently, made the company look like more of a sure bet, which sealed several highly competitive deals.
LET IT GROW
PR pros must begin to think differently about their role as a lead source for sales. While this is not their primary function, they still have a voice in the marketplace. Every interaction with the market should involve a call to action.
For example, if a company is introducing a new product and issues a press release, make sure to include a unique tracking link for the reader to “Learn More.”
When PR recognizes and accepts its key role in the sales revenue equation the relationship with sales improves. And when sales and PR embrace the fact that they are both on the same team, to help their organization grow, a collaborative and profitable partnership is inevitable. PRN
Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer for The Pedowitz Group, and the author of “The Rise of the Revenue Marketer: An Executive Playbook” (BookLogix, 2013). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the April 21, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.