In big companies, decisions are usually made in C-level offices. It often leads to a gap between the decision makers and those who are affected by those decisions. For instance, a decision to purchase a new CRM system will be taken by a high executive, and the sales managers who are going to use this system every day may not have a say in this process. In that case, the person calling the shots does not act as a future user of the service. So, in order to close the deal, you can’t solely appeal to the functional side of your product.
To sell your products and services to enterprise-level businesses, you need to know the specifics of their decision-making process. And the truth is that you can influence those decisions with good PR.
How Does PR Affect Sales?
In many organizations, PR and Sales departments collaborate on a very limited number of occasions. They can participate in a joint event or run a campaign together, but they mostly act in their own areas of influence. This may be beneficial to both departments but is not enough if we want to boost deal-closing. However, PR can be helpful at various stages of the sales process—from creating the first impression of the brand to deal closing to post-sales maintenance.
When a person is choosing a product that is going to be used in his or her company, they will more likely make a decision in favor of the brand that they are familiar with. So, brand awareness is important before your salesperson makes the first move.
If you are targeting a particular client, you can launch a PR campaign that will draw their attention and generate their interest in your product. If the deal size is outstanding, it is completely worth your effort.
And finally, regular media coverage in authoritative media outlets can act as a foot in the door in the minds of your prospects.
There are many effective ways to sway your clients towards a decision in your favor—here are a few examples:
PR Activities That Support Sales
If you are dealing with enterprise clients, your PR efforts should “speak their language”. It applies not only to your brand message, but also to the platform you choose for promotion. News distribution sites you select should be highly relevant to your client, have authority in the industry, and be familiar to the decision maker.
Publications on Popular Business Resources
Despite a common misconception, a mention on a major business publication like Forbes does not guarantee your company will get a boost in traffic. Of course, if you get to the homepage of a medium with 59 million unique visitors each month, it will shake up your servers, but if it’s going to be a niche article, you won’t see any spikes in your Google Analytics account.
Anyhow, landing a mention on a popular business site is great for PR. “There was an article about us on Forbes last week,” makes one hell of an introduction line.
However, getting a mention on Forbes is not that easy. You need to pitch your story to a contributing journalist, and not every story makes it to the magazine. Here you can find advice from the industry leading experts including Edyta from Prowly on how to pitch your story to Forbes.
But this is not the only way to get published in business media outlets. There’s a workaround, in particular in digital marketing: sponsored posts.
A sponsored post is a post that a media publishes on their website for a certain fee. The main difference from organic posts is that such posts should be marked as “Sponsored” and are sort of an op-ed from your company.
There are many media that allow sponsored posting. For example, Search Engine Journal allows sponsored posts about digital and web marketing. These posts are moderated by media editors just like regular posts, but the choice of topic and the content itself stay on the side of the contributor.
Another solution is to look for a medium on sponsored marketplaces. Outlets like Syndicate, Cision, PRnews.io, and other put together lists of websites that allow sponsored posting. If this sounds like a good idea, read more about sponsored posting in this article.
For instance, PRnews.io gives you a comprehensive overview of the media in your niche which accept sponsored posts. It includes two most important metrics: post price and estimated monthly traffic.
Both are vital if you want to estimate potential visibility, costs, and ROI.
News Distributors Your Clients Prefer
Sometimes, having an outside publication write about business may not be so universal after all. Along the way, your salesperson can ask the decision maker on their client’s side about the medium they prefer and the outlets they trust.
If you manage to land a publication about your company on those sites, it could lead to a word-of-mouth effect and strengthen your reputation in your client’s eyes.
To gather ideas about the media outlets that you could pitch your story to, you can research your client’s social media profiles. Follow their social media accounts, take a look at what they like, what they share, and who they follow.
Many of the news distributors out there do not accept sponsored posting and finding the contributor to collaborate with can be a pickle. What you could do is try guest posting. Guest posts are original pieces of content that go through the same editorial process as posts written by official contributors. It is a very popular content marketing technique, but has its dos and don’ts. In this guide, you can find out the latest trends in guest posting and use it to enhance your content strategy.
Industry awards look good on your homepage, but rarely impress people if they are not familiar with the industry. However, if they ARE, a respectable award could make all the difference in their decision. For example, here’s a list of the most popular awards in digital marketing.
Apart from a potential victory, you may benefit from additional publicity during the short-listing and awarding ceremony. A win is always a win, but even a nomination to a popular award is an honor that you can turn into a major advantage.
Nothing works better (or worse) for your reputation than a word of mouth referral, regardless of the industry and business specifics. Make your reputation work for you and let your clients become your brand’s ambassadors by sharing their positive experience of doing business with you.
There are many ways to participate in industry events to which you can invite your clients and partners.
First of all, you can organize such events independently. In digital marketing, a lot of companies organize private events for their business clients—current and prospective. To promote these events, they also invite industry experts and opinion leaders, who are often eager to network with reps from big companies.
If hosting an event on your own is off the limits considering your budget, you can become an information sponsor of a big conference or trade show. This way, you can still get the desired publicity, but save a lot of money on the organization.
Finally, there’s a way for smaller event organizers to invite famous speakers. The secret is to host an end-of-the-day party nearby the venue of a big conference or trade show and invite the experts from that event to participate. It doesn’t have to be a full presentation, you can just host a short networking session. This way, they get the industry celebrities to visit their event without having to cover their traveling costs.
Let Your PR Boost Sales!
The expectations that businesses have of PR have grown from occasionally publishing press releases to shaping a comprehensive brand strategy—world communication.
Still, a lot of business owners resort to PR in a very limited number of cases, letting their Marketing and Sales departments do the job independently.
I am a proponent of integration. I believe that good PR can be a real sales booster, and PR efforts targeted specifically at your enterprise clients can help your sales staff reach completely different figures in their sales quotas.