Shorten Your Sales Cycle With PR
 
Greetings!

Intuitively you believe all marketing activities including PR should support your sales program. Yet, you recall that PR has a higher calling and should remain in the domain of strategic corporate activities that center on shareholder value, goodwill, and corporate citizenship. Both views are right-on as PR is a broad discipline and can be deployed to address many needs at multiple levels within a company. But for now, let's focus on how PR can add value and shorten the sales cycle.  

Get on the Radar or Fall off the Map 
 
A sales cycle can't begin without leads and one of the best ways to generate leads is to build awareness. Awareness comes from being "found" and the more times your company or products are "found" the greater the awareness. Some of the most effective awareness building tactics include issuing news announcements over the wire where they are picked up by news content aggregators and land on web sites throughout the net. Feature coverage, bylined articles, and inclusion in stories make your company a player. Speaking engagements enable direct contact with key audiences and can also be widely promoted to targets who were not resident at the event. User group donations and participation go to the heart of your prospect market and can have a cascading effect through the influence of these committed individuals. "Insider" mediums are some of the most effective awareness building environments as you are relating to your target audience on their turf. Newsletters, conferences, association events and web communities are just a few examples. Industry analysts such as IDC, Meta, Gartner and the like, along with consultants and commentators, are valuable targets that not only aid in building awareness -- they build credibility. 

 
Capturing Awareness and Channeling Interest

With a consistent awareness campaign in place and a well thought-out and articulated messaging strategy, your next challenge is to harness this awareness for sales. In the Internet-age all paths lead to your web site. Those seriously interested in what you have to offer will eventually click to your site. This is the moment of truth where they will determine if they become part of your prospect community based upon how your site communicates to their needs. Their need to feel secure that your company is credible, their need to access more in-depth information, their need to find comfort in the companies you partner with and the clients you serve. Offer ways for the prospect to engage themselves with your company on your web site so you can now begin a dialog. Web seminars, email newsletters, surveys, request forms for information or even for a sales rep to call ... are all excellent methods to progress the sales process. And don't forget to give them a reason to come back to your site so it will be among their bookmarks when they launch into a short-list sales review. 

 
Proactive Beats Passive
 
Whether you call it re-purposing, recycling or good old fashioned merchandising... do not forget to package and push your PR successes directly to your prospects and business affiliates. You can't assume that the coverage you landed has been seen by your key targets. You can however ensure that they do see it by posting it on your web site and providing it to them via email or literature packages. Take quotes from media and industry analysts and use them on your web site, in newsletters, in booth graphics, in personal correspondence, in presentations, etc. Be creative and you'll gain power... the power of influence. PR and the marketing imagination must be combined to reach the fullest potential of impacting sales. Passive PR without the muscle of a marketing touch isn't the right strategy for today's sales focused companies. As my father once told me..."nothing happens until somebody sells something." 
 
If you'd like to know more about how PR can shorten your sales cycle, call or email me. I'd also like to get your thoughts on PR and sales and if something has worked well for you, let me know and I'll spread the word. Meanwhile, let's all make something happen!  
 
 
Beverly Lages
Lages & Associates, Inc.
Public Relations for High Technology, Emerging Market and Software Enterprises _________________________
phone: 949-453-8080
web: www.lages.com