Traditionally, PR and sales have been like two ships passing in the night. No more. As communicators play a strategic role for their companies and organizations, they must condition themselves to sales cycles, financial objectives and the top and bottom lines.
The easiest way to jump-start the process is for PR pros to spend more and more time with both sales execs and customers, according to Mark Stouse, VP, global connect at BMC Software. Stouse, who will be a presenter on the “How to Tie PR to Sales” session at PR News’ Measurement Conference April 8 in Washington, D.C, provides more tips on how communicators can work more effectively with their sales counterparts in the following Q&A.
PR News: What are some of the most effective ways that communicators can align PR to sales?
Mark Stouse: Spend a lot of time with salespeople and with customers. If you're spending most of your time being internally focused, you will never make the connection you need to make. Focus on aligning your marketing and communications efforts with the three legs of sales productivity—this is demand generation, deal expansion and deal velocity.
Traditional marketing functions typically concentrate on demand/lead generation and awareness. Communications—though it certainly delivers an awareness benefit—has its sweet spot in the later stages of the buying journey, where trust and confidence are the major drivers. Think about it—if you have real concerns about a high-cost, high-risk purchase, you are unlikely to agree to buy more from the vendor, and you will probably procrastinate, delaying the deal close. Communications can help sales close deals in a way that traditional demand-oriented marketing functions still struggle to achieve in the latter stages of the funnel.
PR News: Amid a sea of data, what are the most important metrics for PR pros to adopt and meld with the top and bottom lines?
Stouse: CEOs typically focus on three big questions: how well are you performing (tactical excellence), how effectively and efficiently are you deploying your resources (operational excellence) and are you helping the company reach its business goals (strategic impact, usually around revenue, margin and cash flow impact).
PR News: What are the best ways for PR pros to enhance their relationships with sales execs and develop concrete strategies with the sales department?
Stouse: Spend a lot of time with sales. Talk to them, listen to them. Run your communications team like a sales team—which is really what they are anyway. Take every opportunity to build affinity with sales. You want to be so close to them that the only people between you and the revenue stream are sales folks.
The temptation that most communicators have is to over-affiliate with marketing—mainly because they're often part of that department. But remember that in most B2B companies, marketing is seen as a cost center still, while sales is about revenue. If you have a CMO who wants a very close relationship with sales, you are blessed. Otherwise, you need to create it yourself.
To learn more about tying PR to the bottom line, join PR News for PR News’ Measurement Conference on April 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Follow Mark Stouse on Twitter: @markstouse
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1