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    1. Bridging PR and Sales Through Storytelling

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      When it comes to influential forces, there are few as powerful as storytelling. While many equate storytelling with entertainment (e.g. movies, television, novels, etc.), the concept of compelling storytelling is now front and center in nearly every business conversation. In fact, it was a major theme during this year’s GrowthBeat conference.

      The business of storytelling exists (or should exist) in every organization. Storytelling conveys the heart and soul of a brand and is key to customer attraction and retention.

      Typically, storytelling begins with PR and/or Marketing as they use their knowledge of target audiences and industry landscapes to develop key narratives. These stories then get told over and over again by SaBridging-PR-and-sales-via-storytellingles.

      Having had the unique experience of working in both PR and Sales, I wanted to take an opportunity to demonstrate three ways storytelling can build a bridge between PR and Sales and allow these two often disparate business functions to work together in harmony.

      1. Information Surprise & Delight

      The days of putting a story “out there” and letting the rest take care of itself is no longer an option. With droves of content being created, there is now an emphasis on making sure your story stands out and encourages the reader to learn more.

      During his breakout panel at GrowthBeat, Mark Fiske, VP of Channel Marketing at Ancestory.com, talked about how to make the moment a prospect discovers information from or about your brand a magical one. His advice: Stop talking about yourself. Instead, focus on touting the success of your customers or offer up applicable tips that can be utilized immediately.

      In order to have the most impact, the customer needs to feel engaged from the instant they learn how your product or service can add value. One of the ways Sales can ensure this is engagement is by leveraging and repackaging the stories PR has created. Those interviews featuring your CEO are actually great ammo for your Sales team as they seek to demonstrate your company’s education prowess and expertise to prospects.

      2. Strategic Audience Targeting

      It may seem obvious, but telling your story to someone whose interest is already piqued makes it much easier to engage them. Kathy Savitt, CMO of Yahoo, found a way to excite millions of people by reigniting the cancelled NBC show, Community, as one of Yahoo’s original program series.

      Instead of recreating something from scratch, Yahoo easily reengaged millions of existing fans through strategic story placements when it announced the partnership. By exciting an already loyal audience, Yahoo was able to tap into an engaged market segment and use their access to sell new types of ads which included a campaign featuring Lexus.

      Capitalizing on an audience that already exists isn’t always possible, but it does drive home the importance of Sales understanding why PR publishes stories on certain channels and the audience demographics of those publications. Alignment on audience segments allows Sales to choose the narratives most compelling for the person they are speaking to.

      3. Non-Financial Motives

      A lot of times businesses engage in activities where revenue isn’t the number one priority. The interesting thing is how often these non-financially motivated actions actually result in financial gain.

      A phenomenal example from GrowthBeat was when Joe Megibow, Chief Digital Officer at American Eagle Outfitter, explained that AEO often sees its music channels drive more people back to the store and the app than content on other, more traditional channels.

      The creation of the music channel by the AEO PR team was initially thought of as a way to give customers the opportunity to engage with their brand, but what it actually created was an additional revenue stream for Sales to engage with customers.

      As someone who loves a good story, I hope these example serve to show that great stories in business simply don’t start and stop. The most powerful and often most interesting narratives are propagated by every part of the organization and allow for every department to contribute to a brand’s success.

    2. Sales tips that can also improve your dating life

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      Raise your hand if you’ve ever done one (or all) of the following:

      1) Paced back and forth in front of the telephone, waiting for it to ring (remember land lines?)

      2) Stared down your iPhone, willing that text notification to pop-up

      3) Incessantly refreshed your email hoping to see Inbox (1)

      Follow-up question, did these scenarios pertain to a romantic partner, a potential customer or both? The line I’m attempting to draw is that when you stop and look at them, dating and sales are pretty similar and you can probably take lessons from one and apply them to the other.

      Let’s break down some interesting commonalities and maybe learn a thing or two.

      #1 – First impressions matter. First impressions aren’t the be-all and end-all, but they are pretty darn important and they essentially set the tone of the relationship within a few seconds of meeting. Put your best foot forward and remember the key components that make up a successful interaction – be on time, eye contact, exude confidence, make sure to listen and not talk the entire time, and a smile never hurts. So far I think it’s fair to say that this rule applies to both a first date and an early stage sales meeting.

      #2 – Prior preparation prevents poor performance. It’s always a good move to ensure that your date, errrr, potential customer feels important and knows that you put in some effort in advance. This preparation can include calling ahead to make a dinner reservation or researching your customer’s company beforehand. Casually weaving in facts you’ve learned, like where the company is located, how many employees there are, or the company’s differentiators, will demonstrate that you were thinking of your potential customer prior to sitting down with him/her. This gesture will also be a great indicator of your work ethic and dedication – it pays to do your homework in both scenarios.

      #3 – Read the signs. Whether it’s someone’s body language or overhearing the tap tap tap of a keyboard while you’re on a call, when you’ve lost someone’s attention it’s usually best to put a pin in it and revisit the convo at a better time. If your meeting keeps getting rescheduled or you’re getting mixed messages, it doesn’t hurt to be honest and ask the tough questions; are you “dating” other suitors? What are your concerns? What do you need from me to get the contract signed?

      what sales and dating have in commonAnd, sometimes he’s just not that into you.

      It’s true, there may not be any rhyme or reason to romantic chemistry, but in sales there is usually some explanation that can give you the closure you need. Listen, no one likes losing a lead but sometimes s#!$ happens. It could be that a competitor came in with a sweeter deal, there simply wasn’t budget, or there are another 8,193,729 potential reasons why they had to walk away. Buck up, cry a little if it will make you feel better, and power through because there is always another prospect waiting just around the corner.

      Last but not least, emotions trump logic when it comes to love and that equation rings true when it comes to sales too. There was an interesting book that came out a while ago called The 5 Languages of Love, it was originally intended to help nurture marriages but actually translates more universally to other relationships as well.

      By considering the expectations or preferences of your potential partner/customer, you can make wiser decisions on how to best allocate your time, energy, and money when it comes to deal closing time (Quick PSA, we are not condoning the 5th language of physical touch in the work place).

      Would he or she most appreciate you coming to the office to carefully review the contract terms in person? What about sending over a comprehensive email as a preview of how helpful and effective you’ll be as a vendor? Or would a delivery of some sweet swag do the trick?  Remember, it’s not about what gesture you would appreciate most, it’s about being able to anticipate what move will bring your potential customer over the threshold. Because at the end of the day, you’re cultivating a relationship with someone and that is more powerful than whatever it is you may be selling.

      So there you go, hope you found these tidbits helpful for your next sales call or date or something in between.

    3. 6 Marketing and Sales Tactics to Avoid Like the Plague

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      When you’re a busy entrepreneur, there’s nothing worse than having your time wasted. A lot of frustration can occur as a result of others’ carelessness and disregard for your busy schedule and crowded inbox.

      Many sales and marketing professionals continually miss the mark when it comes to outreach practices. From sub-par sales pitches to irrelevant follow up emails, these misfires can result in radio silence, bad word of mouth, or even worse, lost revenue.

      So how can you be sure you’re not wasting a potential customer’s valuable time (or worse: pissing them off!) while still accomplishing your sales or marketing agenda?

      First and foremost, take a good hard look at every communication you send through a “utility lens”. Is what you’re sending actually helpful or is it just adding to the noise?

      Next, think about everything you’ve encountered that secretly made you seethe inside…then do the opposite. You’ll be amazed what you uncover when you turn a critical eye to your own experiences.

      Since we’re big believers of putting our money where our mouth is, we decided to cull together 6 sales and marketing tactics we’ve recently endured. Real talk: we’ve experienced EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE at some point in the last 60 days.

      If you’re the one calling the shots in terms of sales and marketing content, or you are squarely positioned in front of the customer, do yourself a favor and avoid these at all costs…

      1. Distracting pop ups during demos

      I think it’s awesome your team does Happy Hour on Wednesday at 4pm, but please keep calendar reminders, text messages, or other distracting notifications from popping up during a screen share demo. It’s unprofessional and let’s be real, I’m more apt to be nosy about your social life than pay attention to your product. Don’t let digital distractions steal the show.