I want to debunk a common myth about business development meaning rambling about your products and solutions in front of the prospect. The answer is…
So why this connect? Simple: Public relations, though, heavily focuses on media relations and being network specialists for its clients, is not just limited to getting media coverage – both online and off. It is goes beyond the conventional boundaries in which it operates: of encapsulating new age digital media tools, creating engagement and performance driven campaigns that is apt for the client yet also impacting their bottom line – and that is sales. In today’s chameleon age world, PR encapsulates a broader definition – and that is at the intersection of sales and marketing.
As a communications professional, understanding the client’s business, finding the opportunities together and then expanding the business outcomes involves sales. Whether you are in B2B set or a B2C set-up, here are 5 ways how PR helps in sales for its clients.
Listens intently. It’s wrong to assume that PR is all about bragging about company’s solutions in front of the public. In fact today, PR is all about listening, engaging and responding to the clients target audience in deducing how the client’s business is perceived by its entire ecosystem – including its employees. PR helps companies improve their positioning with its ecosystem by participating in conversations with its stakeholders – especially via online platforms. As a result, conversations lead to conversions.
Creates awareness. PR is never works out in a jiffy – it takes a lot of hard work for communication professionals to create awareness about their clients’ products or services. Constant seeding, intelligent go-to-market strategy is needed to spread the word. In other words, PR straddles amidst paid, owned and earned media to create the right ripples for the clients’ business in the market. And given today’s I-know-it-all buyers, they would invest their energy in a company that creates strong triggering points for them to follow or even learn about the company’s business.
Piques curiosity. Novelty – or any intriguing piece that impacts the prospect’s business outcomes – sparks curiosity. Today every company needs to be a publishing house. Michael Brito, in his book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company talks about empowering employees, customers and partners to tell their brand story – and true brand story. Whether a newbie PR professional or an experienced communications professional, today it’s not just the company but even communication professionals that have a voice any form of content – be it infographic, articles, blogs, videos, white papers, etc., which is good news! Journalists and reporters are excellent in ‘repurposing’ content based on contextual relevance. As a result, instead of all the pompous ads via which company promotes itself, if there is an intelligent PR behind the show who creates and curates some epic content online via third-party endorsements or even a simple press that highlights the company’s key messages, it will definitely pique the prospect’s curiosity! And will move your company an inch closer to sales.
Builds momentum. PR never even closely relates to being humdrum. It keeps humming along when in sync with content marketing; it gives a strong call to action for buyers – be it subscribing to a whitepaper, e-book or a company’s blog. The rhythmic back and forth of sharing company’s messages/ information with the buyer propels the buyer to take action.
Earns trust. PR helps companies build an authority in the market by being a constant source of content engine and a value creator for its clients. Though it is a slow burn but has huge payoffs for clients in earning trust of its customers, partners and prospects. Consistently publishing targeted content for its buyers via communicating its announcements or major development or even minor accelerations, PR positions its clients’ business in the best light of the business context and earns their buyers’ trust by being proactive.
And plug-in your passion with PR for your client’s business, you are bound to generate a significant ROI – and eventually, sales!
Well, we all know that in the business of business, it is all about sales. I don’t mean to overshadow the power of marketing, but…
Simple: Mediocrity does not sell; meritocracy does.
So here are a few qualities that separate the top sellers from the average or less-than-average salespeople.
They listen. Beat it! Top sellers are powerful listeners; and they don’t listen to respond intelligently – they listen to listen; to gather insights; to get a perspective – an angle with which they help the buyer deduce the rationale behind why they should change from the status quo.
They are problem solvers and accelerators. Top sellers have a knack of discerning the loopholes or the undercurrents of their buyers’ status quo. They are incredible ‘sales doctors’ – they have an aspirin for their buyers’ pain point. And they don’t just alleviate the afflictions, but also accelerate the sales process by giving a realistic perspective on how to tap the opportunities that are camouflaged in their problems.
They are investors. Yes – they heaving invest in their personal development;to become better communicators and enablers in speeding up their buyers’ decision making with ease. They are voracious readers (especially of non-fiction) and they pick up information very fast. To be on top of triggering events; such as, a merger or an acquisition, divestiture, hiring of new vice president , product launches, or any other event, top sellers understand trends while being anticipatory in their assumptions – so that they can strike a meaningful conversation (that sells!) with their buyers.
They are social media mavens and passionate evangelists– Refer to Jill’s cracking the LinkedIn sales code – and you will feel blessed in reaping the rewards of being social while reaching out to your target prospects. While being social is critical for salespeople, but top sellers understand the importance of quality over quantity in building relationships with their prospects. They understand that today’s buyer- be it buyer 2.0, 3.0 or even 6.0 in the near future – completes 60% of their buying process before they even contact a seller. (Based on a finding by Joe Girard in his book, Insight Selling.) And that is why top sellers ‘proactively’ participate in their prospects’ conversations – be it a community, an industry blog, a white paper or simply curating content and sharing with their prospects.And in turn, this activity positions them to be an expert in their buyer’s mind.
They take failures as accelerations! Jill reinstated this in her book Agile Selling: that failures are nothing but learning experiences. And to that I will add: know your limitations. And accelerate. Top sellers play with multiple options to find the right, circumstantial fix to their buyer’s pain points. Hence, they don’t take failures as impediments; instead they unearth the real lessons, which they apply in other situations. In short: they just don’t give up – they get grittier with every passing failure!
They’re helpful and useful. I will borrow what Jay Baer wrote in his book, Youtility, that to be useful is to be full of use – literally! Top sellers are marketers. No I don’t mean to sound confusing; I am talking ‘selling’ in its truest form. Yes, top sellers know how to market themselves and pitch without an intention to sound all pomp and show and instead be immensely helpful with their prospects. They love their prospects – just like they are dating them. And pampering them while being corrective (when needed).
They are masters in managing their time and energy. Brian Tracy is undoubtedly the biggest inspiration especially when it comes to time management. He has written top-selling time management books and has also launched audio books on this topic. He mentions in one of his audiobook – Personal Success made simple – that top sellers are masters in goal settings. They prioritize their day based on the most important to the least important tasks to be completed. To add to that, top sellers invest 80% of their energy in 20% of must-get-it-done tasks. They are excellent in their work-life synthesis. And that is why they are super-productive!
To sum it up: just be relentless – and you will never look back!
I second Umair Haque in asking: What breaks your heart? What propels you to keep moving on? What is you burning, tempestuous passion that pushes you to…
What’s your vision?
Yes, you hear me right – what’s your vision? I was of late listening to a webinar by Eben Pagan and he mentioned that the most important question today that top executives want to answer – and enjoying answering is – what’s your vision?
A lot of sales professionals – sometimes even I – land up ranting about the product or service, which we are so passionate about. And with time, I understood that people don’t buy products; people don’t even buy solutions; people live in experience, where they eventually revel. Oren Klaff, the author of Pitch Anything rightly articulated in his book and in his seminars: that money is just a tool for prospects to realize their vision. They hardly care about how good your product or service is; they only care about how ‘you’ can create a sales experience that intersects with their business goals. Correction: their vision.
Dealing with the C-suite is tough. In sales, we are in the business of gap analysis – and this can only be determined when we know where we are heading versus where we are!
In so many back and forth frivolous conversations, we forget the meat: the baseline, the concrete vision which our clients are trying to meet. So going back to the webinar, I was talking some notes and while I was, he asked me to close my eyes and envision a beautiful place – my destination – and feel the dream as if it is my present. My moment. Not fleeting – my reality. My vision that I keep journaling about. My vision to envision my best self; to reach my highest potential.
I felt as if he was just communicating with me. He asked, “what’s your vision?” And “what’s stopping you?” I had an epiphany: something which I can’t describe in words. It was like I had all emotions triggering me to live my vision, where nothing can stop me. Nothing. And whatever was unconsciously stopping me, slowly fading away.
Can it get any simpler than this? Remember: While these questions are simple to ask, trust me, the prospect will have a really hard time to iron out his vision in the clearest possible way. This question opens vistas of newer perspectives and lets you harness the power of connecting with the prospect on a deeper level.
As Robin Sharma rightly points out: if you know your what, fueled with your why, you can easily figure out the how. And that is where we come in!
Sometimes all it takes is to truly envision where you want to be – and everything else is secondary. And although some prospects might find these questions being a little intrusive, the question is – how many of us actually have a broad, all-encapsulating mind to help our prospects realize their full crystallized vision?
Helping someone realize their vision can be an epiphany for you, too. After all, we all are prospects for someone in this world. And that is why you need to close the chasm between your story and theirs. And find a connect, which is unbreakable and unforgettable.
So, what’s your vision? And what’s stopping you?
I was recently swayed by what Greg McKeown calls the practice of essentialism – splendid read. And more than that, it struck two pensive thoughts in my mind – do less, but do better; and excision of unimportant work is the chief attribute that distinguishes the ordinary from the genius. In today’s hard-pressed work culture and never-dying to-do lists, the only way to protect yourself being in the hallucinations of busyness, is to focus and pursue the more of less.
So what is the more of less? Well, it could be many things for many people; but for sales professionals, it is being laser-like focused on making that one chief skill better – even if it not that essential to your job. Let’s say, it could be writing cold e-mails; or speaking to hot prospects the first thing in the morning even before you have earned that brewed cuppa; or networking on LinkedIn and connecting with your dream clients; or reading your industry articles. The point is anything, but anything of that something should render as a feat of mastery in you. While the role of a generalist isn’t dying, the specialist is evolving – and will stay for the coming generations (until, of course, we find a blend that can work for today’s crazy-busy people).
And with doing more of that one thing, you become more intuitive, more aligned with your long-term goals and a better professional. Sometimes, it is not always how much you can spread; it is how much you can stick and then be unstoppable in that quest to reach out to your universe. No, I am not being counter-intuitive; the point is – you have to find your 100 times multiplier. That one multiplier which will yield you professional and personal success. Don’t be a yes man; be a crude minimalist – in terms of finding and executing the most important priorities for the day. Perhaps choosing top 3 priorities that are relevant for the ‘moment’ should be your goal – the ones that define success. Relevance for the ‘moment’ versus relevance for the ‘day’ is huge challenge for sales people and sales marketers, however one has to straddle depending on the context.
And while this seems to a tough feat, it will pay off 1000X times if you are just focused on your one ‘100 times’ multiplier. Let’s elaborate a bit more on how does this work – say if you are just good with writing e-mails (evoking a passion conversation with your prospects), you will no time see the responses that help you simplify your sales process! (Perhaps some kind of spill-over effect.) That one skill can land you into more sales meetings, better conversations – and also in better closures! Reminds me of S Anthony Iannarino’s The Sales Blog, More Is Not Better, Better Is. Focus on less and get more!
Not that you should ignore your sales process, but start getting better at each to increase your results. By leveraging your one skill, you can set a precedent for yourself to get better in others.
So what is your 100 times multiplier? Let me know!
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