With most business travel still grounded; sales teams are working harder than ever to keep deals moving and qualify new prospects. To be successful in a work-from-home environment – which is expected to extend well into 2021 for many organizations – sales needs a new kind of support from marketing and PR. And it must be collaborative.
Pre-pandemic, these functions often got away with operating in silos, each pursuing their own objectives and results, from brand awareness, to lead generation to prospect nurturing. But no more. Marketing and PR must align and renew their efforts to support sales in this new environment. Here are three great ways to get started:
1. Combine data sources to be as relevant as possible
Your organization already has tons of data from all three teams, and it’s time to join forces to put it to the best use.
- PR has their finger on the pulse of the key storylines reporters are hungry for, and what trends media is tracking.
- Marketing is seeing how changes to buyer behavior are showing up across online channels, from search intent, to digital channel use to product applications.
- Sales is hearing firsthand feedback about where prospects are getting stuck and what current clients are grappling with today.
Combining these data and insights will give you visibility you need to prioritize the best PR, marketing and sales opportunities, and allow all three teams to be much more efficient. Taking this a step further, you’re far better positioned to launch timely, coordinated campaigns that support every stage of the sales funnel.
2. The buyer journey has changed. Your content must keep up.
Right now, it may feel like a lot of contacts are searching and learning, but not buying.
This is because people are staying in the consideration phase longer than ever, as uncertainty plagues their business and the economy as a whole. They need more information and support to make a decision to spend. PR can support this need with hard news that drives confidence by highlighting growth or new deals; and with thought leadership that emphasizes the long-term benefits of your solutions.
For prospects whose budgets are frozen, they are still planning for 2021. Content that lays the foundation for future spend must be created and distributed now to keep the top of your pipeline healthy.
Again, cross collaboration is essential. Talk to your sales teams about what new information prospects looking are for. Think of it as a new sales cycle, and identify gaps that weren’t there before. Then create content that ensures your sales teams are armed with informative materials at every stage of the sales cycle.
3. Make everything WFH-friendly to help your sales team get closer to their prospects, and done deals
Sales has transitioned from in-person meetings and trade shows to Zooms and LinkedIn mail, and it’s an adjustment that takes some getting used to. Without that face-to-face interaction, sales needs more effective ways to keep the conversation going and close deals. Marketing and PR can help, but you must make it easy for sales to use your materials in the current environment.
Once you know what messages are resonating, reformat key content into a more mobile-friendly layouts, change lengthy presentations decks into fact sheets or videos, consider more podcasts and webinars to replace in person meetings and give sales PR hits to send as a credentialing tool to prospects in the funnel.
Invest in eye catching ways to present your content and remember that it doesn’t always have to be highly produced. For example, preview a white paper with a short video that shows the first few pages on LinkedIn, or share a relatable photo from your team that represents a sign of the times.
Consider also that everyone dealing is with a new “office culture” that includes constant interruptions from the latest Amazon delivery at the door, noisy pets or home-schooled children who absolutely must have a snack. Right. Now(!) Be human and be quick about it. Short form content that is simple and easy to consume has never been timelier.
In this virtual environment sales, marketing and PR can be much more successful if they come together to meet buyers where they are and engage them in ways that work at every step of the journey. If you can do this, your entire sales and marketing function will be much better set up to succeed in the future.
Don’t waste this opportunity to make these critical connections. This environment is here to stay.