Sliding Through the Sales Funnel: Using PR Ease the Flow

One of the more interesting discussions at last week’s Highland Capital Partners Sales 2.0 event surrounded the lessons enterprise software has learned from the consumer world.

Via Cosmic Kitty on Flickr

The Old Sales Process Via Cosmic Kitty on Flickr

Many years ago, while representing Alfresco Software, I remember CTO John Newton talking about the affect Google had on enterprise document management. As he noted, people could go to Google and find what they wanted in a matter of milliseconds, but couldn’t find an internal document without enduring a frustratingly long hunting process.

People wanted the ease-of-use they experienced at home to happen in their corporate environments.

This same logic has invaded the enterprise sales process. Anthony Deighton, senior vice president of marketing for QlikTech divided enterprise sales into 1.0 and 2.0 time periods, with 1.0 marked by such antiquated notions as:

  • Always say “yes” -- Dieghton jokingly pointed to the example Q:  Does your software toast bread? A: yes, with the right configuration our software can toast bread.
  • Sell 1st, deploy 2nd -- Never confuse the two and don’t let the sales person near the customer during the (long and messy) deployment process
  • Only use the scripted demo -- Why risk failure by showing something live that may not work?
  • Don’t let the customer touch the software -- Only show them what they need to see
  • Reality is a guide, sell the possible
Anthony Deighton of QlikTech

Anthony Deighton of QlikTech

All of this, he said, has been replaced at QlikTech with the simple download. Users can download the product and use it on their own computer. Should they want to deploy to more members of their organization from a central server, then they need to buy the software and pay.

If this sounds a little familiar, it is. The model is lifted entirely from the open source model, something Deighton acknowledges.

Joe Liemandt, CEO of Trilogy

Joe Liemandt, CEO of Trilogy

So, what does this have to do with PR? Because part of the process according to Deighton as well as other speakers such as Joe Liemandt, CEO of Trilogy, is the idea of “low cost customer touch.” That is, without having a sales person on the road to do a lot of show and tell, and with more power falling to the consumers, the need for online information rises. This is where videos, webinars and blog content come in as educational tools designed not only to inform, but also to eep the customer engaged.

While most see PR in the category of processes that drive prospects to the website, PR continues to fall into the “driver” category. Marketers see PR as one of the many check boxes needed to drive prospects or gain awareness about a company. However, PR’s true value is in storytelling and that transcends reaching out for new audiences.

So when we talk about PR 2.0 or the changing PR landscape, this is where things truly get interesting. At Fresh Ground our goal is to help PR move from the very top of the sales funnel to a content driver and community development engine that helps power everything.

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