In all types of companies, relations between the communications and sales teams are too often fleeting encounters—born of one-off projects that generally lead to little commitment or future involvement—until the next need arises.
While this casual approach may ‘work’ and keep everyone temporarily satisfied, organizations need to embrace a much more strategic long-term vision while bringing their communications and sales functions together.
Picture the basic sales funnel that prospective customers follow when they engage with your company’s products or services.
1. Awareness 2. Interest 3. Evaluation 4. Commitment 5. Referral 6. Repeat
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) campaigns sit at the top of this funnel and consist of various tactics including traditional public relations, paid advertising, digital/online marketing, sales promotions and corporate philanthropy. The organizational objective that sits at the bottom of the funnel remains constant: sales.
This is true with both non-profit and for-profit organizations. In fact, non-profit is a tax code term—not something that dictates whether an organization can be profitable or not (many non-profits have vast financial resources). With non-profit organizations, you can simply replace the word ‘sales’ with ‘donations.’ Anyway, the bottom line here is—and always will be—just that: the bottom line.
Traditional PR hones in on stages one and two of the sales funnel—driving mass awareness of an organization’s products, services and executives. And while awareness is certainly beneficial, there’s much more that communications can do to drive success towards the bottom of the funnel by arming the sales team with messages and content that help accelerate sales, generate referrals, and create repeat customers.
PR teams and integrated marketers in general should spend more time with the sales teams to get a better idea of how they can integrate answers to the questions, concerns, and pain points of existing andpotential customers into the overall communications strategy. This is especially true with B2B businesses such as enterprise software companies or expensive B2C products that typically have longer sales cycles and where customers spend more time in the evaluation stage.
How is your communications team (internal or external) approaching the issue of sales? What are they doing to understand your company’s sales strategy and financial goals? Is your communications team business savvy? Do they grasp business models and understand how sales cycles affect revenues? Are they meeting with and speaking to your sales team regularly to understand day-to-day issues and with sales executives to understand the larger vision?
When it comes to communications campaigns and larger strategic planning, PR and sales teams should strive to be regular and long-term collaborators—not just temporary bedfellows that quickly run from the room in the morning.