The relationship between sales, marketing and PR has changed forever.
We’re longer marketing to prospects but developing relationships where both parties are engaged in a mutually beneficial discussion. To achieve such a state, we need to revamp the relationship between sales, marketing and PR.
Sales people aren’t going to change. There will always be good and bad ones. Genuine helpers and scammers. The smart ones will adapt, others will change profession forever. Same for Marketing. Same for PR.
What has changed however, is the sales process. Thanks to the internet, and the development of content, each of its steps has evolved. Yet we still see it as linear, funnel like, even though it is now more like an exponential web with influencers coming out of the woodworks changing, reshaping, stopping and re-starting the sales process in ways that most sales people, and even customers, are not used to. What is fascinating is that almost each and every of its steps are a sales process in itself, not just steps on a ladder, and not all necessarily coming in the sequence we are use to.
Until a few years ago, you could still rely on a straightforward approach to selling where you’d start identifying potential customers, define the right message, engage in a conversation at multiple levels and bring them by the hand to completion. The first impact of the internet was to change the way the sales cycle begins. Before you hear about them, prospects would have hunted you down and are armed with more information about your product or services than your brochures contains. They would have even talked with other customers or read their posting online before talking with you. Some customers might even have jumped right to the end of the cycle and buy without having seen a single sales person.
If we keep on thinking in a linear mode, we’ll all go the way of the dinosaurs, regardless of our best efforts.
To solve this problem, keep in mind that at the heart of this non-linear sales cycle is content and interaction.
Content is king is almost as old a cliche as the one stating that only half of our advertising works. Yet in today’s ever expanding content rich world, developing traditional content such as websites, brochures, articles or even white papers, is no longer enough. You need to be one step ahead by constantly creating new ideas, opinions and thoughts. Not to change the world, this is business, not philosophy, but by answering complaints or commenting on ideas posted in often non-related sites. In a way, content is about ideas, not descriptions.
As for interaction, you need to constantly search for the opportunity and act on it in a non-sellsy nor defensive manner. This will give you the opportunity to reach and connect with customers and prospects in ways that goes beyond your sales cycle and closer to their buying cycle.
You’re no longer marketing or selling to prospects but developing public relations to its finest, where both parties are learning about each other and engaged in a mutually beneficial discussion.