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The sales value of public relations

It goes without saying that your company’s reputation has a direct impact on the lead generation and business conversion rates of your sales team and therefore the bottom line.

This has been confirmed through a survey carried out in the USA with B2B sales teams and marketeers that showed that 74 per cent of all sales respondents believed PR and ‘word of mouth’ are more effective than advertising at generating sales leads.

Overall, it indicates strong respect for PR activities from sales people and highlights areas where the marketing department can possibly better support the sales effort.

Some of the findings from the survey are quite interesting, comparing how sales and marketing people rate the importance of specific PR activities. For example:

Sales people ranked reprints of articles generated by PR as more important than brochures, whereas marketing people believed the opposite;

42% of sales people said their marketing department was doing a poor job of providing them with “PR results that help our sales efforts”. And 28% of marketing people agreed with them. This is because marketing views the organisation as a whole, including corporate reputation, whereas sales concentrates almost exclusively of the sale of products and services.

This shows up in the following extracts from the survey findings:

More sales people than marketing people see PR activities such as lead generation and direct marketing as priorities;

More marketing people than sales people see product awards and product review as priorities.

Taking both sales and marketing respondents into account, the top seven activities seen as coming under the PR banner are:

Speaking engagements 80%;
Articles 74%;
Customer success studies 71%;
Product awards 59%;
Product reviews 56%;
Direct marketing 33%;
Lead generation 30%.
When it comes to sales and marketing working well together, the practice of sharing article reprints is quite strong in the USA, with two-thirds of surveyed companies passing on article reprints from marketing to sales, and then on to customers.

When asked to name the best means of measuring PR success, half the respondents stated ‘generating more or better sales leads’ and one quarter stated media coverage.

There is no doubt that this survey highlights the importance both departments place on PR in driving sales. If you’re in an internal PR role with a company that has a strong sales focus, here are the top three PR activities that you should be undertaking to support your sales activities:

General editorial coverage – copy all coverage and pass it through to sales (ensuring you adhere to the Newspapers Licensing Authority rules);

Case studies – pitch them to media and print them for sales use;

White papers – discuss possible white paper topics with sales.

Most companies would be actively working towards gaining good editorial coverage, however many lack the internal resources to undertake case studies and white papers. If you fall into the latter category, consider seeking outside assistance in researching and writing these important PR resources.

Consider undertaking a small self-survey with your marketing and sales teams (no matter how small) to see if in your organisation:

Sales use, or would use, any positive editorial coverage you may send to them;

Sales are actively sending through details on customer wins that you could turn into a release;

Sales are comfortable with pushing their customers to be the subject of a case study;

Marketing informs sales of PR successes;

Marketing keeps sales abreast of its PR plans for each quarter;

Marketing has sufficient internal resources to produce great PR materials, specifically those that support sales.

For more information, visit www.jardine-michelson.com