Sales, marketing and public relations—the three faces, if you will, of business development. And like the old trope about “mother, maiden, crone,” depending on where you stand relative to these business activities, you may be inclined to paint one of them as the old hag you’re ready to retire and one of them as the lovely charmer worth spending three month’s salary on.
Sales support = promotion
Which is which in your organization? No matter what you’re doing right, you can triple or quadruple the value to your sales funnel by promoting it correctly for your particular industry and niche business.
Let’s break this down. As every sales professional will support, making dollars flow into the front door is job one for a successful firm. Depending on your industry, the precise process varies quite a bit.
For example, online software systems like Pardot use inside sales teams handling inbound web leads. Growth companies like Tesla and Variable Technologies are reinventing how they handle their pipeline, with media traction as a huge part of creating interest that leads to inquiries that lead to orders. Pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales still rely on consultative, educational relationships—often kick-started by attending educational conferences and physical summit events.
4 Ways PR Pumps Up Prospects
If you need more prospects –if you just don’t get enough inbound leads—you have a classic awareness issue.
Classic awareness issues are addressed best by “getting out there.” Here’s how you, in the sales role, can do more of that:
1. Set up a Google alert so when your company publishes news, a case study, a magazine article or a blog post, you see it right away.
2. Share, share, share. Digest that information, and then send the link to all of your prospects and LinkedIn connections with a note, asking what THEY think about this development. Challenge yourself to reach 5 new people in this way. If the article mentions companies, ask yourself who else would be interested in it—the competition of the client in your new case study? Using LinkedIn or your prospect library, research people who would be interested in this tidbit or perspective, and shoot them a note with your insight at the top. Done regularly, this kind of habit can increase your pipeline by dozens of key qualified prospects quickly. And if your company is not publishing news of interest, let them know what you need or what your top prospects might find most interesting.
3. Conference speaking. Think about the top 3-5 places decision makers gather—usually these are trade shows or conferences. You may already be attending these conferences, perhaps as an exhibitor. Up the game by going back to SPEAK. Submit yourself to speak in the next year’s cycle, and you’ll find your best prospects actually coming to a small room to focus on YOU and YOUR presentation. While some conferences won’t accept “sales people” if you package your session educationally, perhaps with a panel of aligned vendors or even customers, you can cut through the clutter and rise to the top of the submissions.
4. Thought leadership pieces. Thought leadership pieces are also great ways to take prospects or current customers into a new place, to see you in a new light. Make sure you are tuned into the pieces your marketing team has in the pipeline, and ask about any big media that’s coming out. You can use these locally to:
a. Help you speak to association or network lunches on the topic (providing the piece as background). Having a fresh piece of thougth leadership can open to the door to small group speaking
b. Organize a discussion on LinkedIn on a group about the piece
Building better customers into bigger customers
Publicity is also perfect to support a natural nurturing process, bringing starter customers into fully fledged enterprise customers. A couple of ways you can nurture and accelerate this process are:
1. Email newsletter. Is your company’s email newsletter going out to all of your prospects? By sharing your LinkedIn contacts or your customer database, make sure a newsy, educational, enlightening monthly newsletter goes out to all of your clients. If you don’t like the content, make suggests “from the front row” on what YOUR customers really need. A lot of the time, it’s around process, trends and research. You may even want to write it up yourself—even if your marketing team “cleans it up” for you, the fact is that engaging in a two-way dialogue with your marketing people about what it takes to “hunt elephant customers” among your current small fry is key to educating them, too.
2. Client events. There’s nothing like having people who already trust you in the room, learning to trust you more. Work with your marketing team to put on a trend-centric client “development” event that introduces them to things you have available to up-sell. By focusing on educating, process, research, and trends, you can find ways to introduce new products as answers to real needs.