What PR Professionals Can Learn From Sales


By Katie Brenneman

Public relations professionals and those considering the career should embrace any opportunity to interact with sales personnel.

Although PR doesn’t focus as much on making a transaction, it does find itself in the middle of closing deals, communicating, and growing relationships. Something sales teams know a lot about.

Taking a deeper look at what salespeople do and being open to their knowledge and experience can benefit your PR career. Additionally, PR professionals can adapt what they learn from various sales strategies to their responsibilities. Here’s more on what those in PR can learn from sales teams and their tactics.

Value Market Research

Sales teams have to spend a lot of time understanding their markets and target audiences to sell to them successfully. The more they know about who their customers are, their buying behaviors, purchasing patterns, and buyer’s journey, the more personalized and valuable their offers can be. This also helps them stand out among the many salespeople approaching the same customer.

You aren’t the only PR professional contacting that media outlet, business, influencer, or leader. Instead, you’re competing with other PR personnel and their requests for decision-makers’ attention.

You can get there faster by understanding the wants and needs of those you’re doing business with. Just as sales teams do ample market research to learn customer expectations, PR professionals can benefit from thorough research on the entities they hope to build solid relationships with.

Build 1:1 Relationships

PR is rooted in relationship-building. You build relationships with everyone from media outlets to individual journalists to businesses to others in PR. Strong relationships that last are integral to good PR for any company in any industry.

Sales teams are also fond of relationships. Excellent communication and connection with potential and current customers enable sales teams to create authentic relationships, make great offers, and learn from their experiences.

Witnessing how sales personnel builds 1:1 relationships can help you master two-way communication, active listening, and authenticity in your relationships.

It can also help you think of the entity you’re trying to build a relationship with as a “customer.” When you adopt the mindset that every experience you have with someone should mirror a genuine, accessible “customer” experience, you’ll start providing just that. As a result, you’ll close deals faster, establish better relationships, and retain them long-term.

Ultimately, starting your relationships on a genuine foundation makes it easier for them to flourish.

Polished and Poised Presentation

Have you ever seen a fantastic sales presentation? The presenter is calm, confident, prepared, and pleasant to watch. They understand the people they’re presenting to and feed off their energy. They’re also equipped with tools and accessories that enhance their presentation.

More importantly, great salespeople know how to hook you and keep you engaged until the very end of their presentation. PR professionals are often tasked with conceptualizing, developing, and delivering excellent presentations.

Attending a sales presentation or two can give you ideas on how to provide an enticing presentation. It can also help you with your presentation design, like creating better slide decks and writing messages with more impact.

Look the Part

Another thing about successful salespeople: they’re going to look the part. For example, their outfits are bold yet professional, accessories complement the outfit, and personal hygiene is on point. Additionally, their body language and walks are confident.

This isn’t to say that PR professionals don’t ever look the part. However, they can learn a lot about leveraging the “looking good, feeling good” saying from salespeople.

Check out the way someone doing well in sales carries themself. Is their hair cut and styled nicely? What does their outfit look like? Is it conscious of colors, patterns, and textures? Are their accessories complimenting their outfit rather than overpowering it? Does it seem like their look is reflective of who they are? Are they confident and smiling?

Diving into how salespeople look the part can help you do the same.

Write With Purpose

PR professionals also find themselves knee-deep in written communication. Writing effectively is required for success in a PR role, from press releases to PR surveys to emails to speeches to presentations.

The sales department also has to write a lot. But the thing about sales-focused writing is that it’s done with intent. In other words, sales content has one primary goal: to convince the reader to make a purchase.

PR professionals can look at sales-focused content and study how it’s written with a specific purpose in mind. Whether the goal is to introduce yourself and the business you represent, follow up about a recent meeting, or announce a new product, simple, engaging written communication is crucial.

So, pick up on patterns in sales-focused content and see how you can mirror them in the content you write in PR.

Each individual in PR has a unique story about how they came to be where they are now in the industry. And many of those stories involve learning from sales teams or experience from a sales-related job. You, too, can learn a lot from sales. Implement the lessons above and any others you learn from sales teams and strategies to drive your PR career forward.

Katie Brenneman is regular contributor to Culpwrit thanks to her passion about writing about business, public relations and other major topics of the day. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “What PR Professionals Can Learn From Sales

  1. This post was extremely educational for me. The advice of a salesperson is very valuable to PR practitioners like me because we can always keep growing and we need to understand the people we are trying to help and work with. I especially liked the point of “Write with Purpose.” I will be implementing writing with one specific goal in mind from now on. – Jen Bowman, writer/editor for Platform Magazine

  2. Sales and PR have more in common than one might think. It’s a very underrated career.

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