PR must return to its sales roots

From the very beginning, PR and sales were connected. Edward Bernays' campaigns were designed to help sell everything from cars to soap.

From the very beginning, PR and sales were connected. Edward Bernays' campaigns were designed to help sell everything from cars to soap.

Over the years, however, PR's connection to sales has been questioned. Not surprisingly, PR's value has also been questioned.

The PR industry must take the blame for this; building reputation and increasing visibility have been promoted as PR's primary strengths while its ability to impact sales has suffered. Media impressions and clips became the measurement of success.

To have PR valued for its contribution to the bottom line, it is time for it to return to its sales roots by implementing a new practice: sales relations (SR).

Sales relations is the use of PR as a sales force multiplier. In the military, a force multiplier is a capability that, when added to and used by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force. In turn, it enhances the probability of the mission being successfully accomplished.

A sales force multiplier is a capability that, when added to and employed by the sales force, greatly increases the potential of that sales force to get sales. That, in turn, enhances the probability of successfully closing deals.

As a former sales trainer, I can tell you that it is better to handle objections before they come up. That is what SR enables you to do; it addresses value, need, and credibility, and creates an environment that is conducive to selling, enabling salespeople to close more deals in less time and effort.

Sales relations is for companies whose primary objectives are generating sales and increasing market share. These organizations aren't as concerned about reputation management and media impressions that boost egos - but have little effect on sales - as others are.

Sales Relations is not a new concept. Even the term "sales relations" has been used by others. And there are PR firms that already embrace and promote PR's impact on sales.

Now is the time to name this practice and distinguish its objectives from those of other PR areas, while at the same time, working with them. Sales relations is an additional offering; it is not intended to replace other PR services. In PR and marketing we know the importance of a good name. "Sales relations" enables us to clearly and specifically communicate what service we are offering clients and it enables the client to ask for a specific service. It also indicates how our success should be measured, which is not solely by SR's impact on sales (because closing deals is sales' responsibility, not ours), but also by its impact on the sales process. If PR is not related to sales, PR pros will continue to be treated as stepchildren. However, by implementing SR practices, PR firms can return to the days in which clients clearly understood PR's impact on sales.

Wayne Pollard is president of Hunter-Pollard and the author of < em="">Minds Before Market Share: The Art of Public Relations.

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