5 key lessons PR can learn from sales

From figuring out how to sell yourself to letting technology do the heavy lifting, the author offers a handful of ways to upgrade your media relations efforts.

Sales and PR teams have a lot in common, right?

You pitch stories; sales teams make deals. It’s all selling, and it’s all about building better relationships with customers and clients.

So you might be interested to hear that high-performing sales teams are 3.5 times more likely to use analytics to improve those relationships than underperforming teams.

Take note: The best teams are those embracing technology at every turn.

Let’s look at how such sales teams work and what we can learn from them:

1. Build trust with inbound marketing.

Building relationships goes beyond pushing out a press release or picking up the phone. It’s about establishing trust and starting a conversation.

Sales teams do this in their sleep. They create content—guides, free downloads, e-books—to build authority and avoid cold-calling.

So why don’t PR teams complement their outreach with inbound marketing? We’re subject matter experts. We know everything about our brands, our sectors—and we know what keeps our target audience awake at night.

That makes us an authority and a valuable resource for journalists, so share your stories online, build trust and watch your audience grow.

When that happens and a journalist calls you for a quote? You just closed a red-hot deal.

2. Structure your process to reduce errors.

A recent study showed that highly successful organizations have more-structured sales processes.

Turns out, 83 percent of sales teams use a customer relationship management (CRM) system for their customer interactions. I’d guess that the same percentage of PR teams don’t. Most PR teams are still in Excel hell.

Built into a PR model, a CRM system delivers clear benefits, such as providing instant context. Everything you need to know about a journalist is available at the click of your mouse: deadlines, press days, preferred image download methods, the name of their pet monkey.

Having knowledge like that at your fingertips gives you a big advantage.

A public relations CRM system stores the stuff that builds relationships, which should be the primary focus for any self-respecting PR or sales team.

Plus, no more face-palm moments because you sent your fashion story to that tech journalist.

3. Evaluate and improve your pipeline.

PR teams struggle to demonstrate their value. In desperation, some even turn to advertising value equivalency (AVE).

Sales are easy to track. CRM systems spit out reports measuring the status of relationships, whether emails, calls, in-person visits or what they’re doing for the bottom line.

PR teams benefit hugely from email tracking. They can monitor who’s engaging with their content and how often a link is clicked or an asset downloaded.

That insight means can teams can intelligently personalize and improve their content.

4. Go home on time with email automation.

We rely on email more than ever, but when it slows us down-when we exceed our mailbox capacity, lose a crucial email, or waste hours adding assets, again and again-the frustration boils over.

Successful sales teams rely on email—but they’re not handcuffed to their mailboxes. They use tools like Outreach for seamless email integration, templates and automated follow-ups.

A good public relations CRM system brings control to your inbox and saves hours bundling up those pesky assets. Type a journalist’s name into the system, and every email is forever linked to his or her record, which improves workflow and lets you go home on time.

5. Connect more via social media.

Wish you could spend more time on social media? Find out what journalists are talking about? If only there were enough hours in the day.

Software such as FullContact gathers important information about your contacts and prospects and delivers it straight to your inbox. (Editor’s Note: Muck Rack can help with this, too)

Sales teams listen to countless conversations and then tailor their strategies to fit. Imagine this level of insight into your own customers and clients. Imagine diving into what hundreds of journalists are talking about—right now. You could pitch instantly or simply respond with a helpful nugget.

Re-examine your processes

Given fast-moving times, intense competition and increased media diversity, what succeeded for you in the past is unlikely to work in the future. The winning PR teams of tomorrow will be those who step out of their comfort zone and re-examine their processes.

Then wholeheartedly embrace the right tools.

Frederik Vincx is a cofounder at Prezly, a PR toolkit and CRM system. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

Topics: PR

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