Shame on the Spray-And-Pray Sales Rep

By Scott Signore

I’m dealing with a salesperson that has crossed the line from persistent to annoying, and doesn’t understand what we do and need. He’s spamming me with crazy regularity and the content of his pitch is meaningless to me and my business. The truth is, there are far too many PR agencies that take this similar tact while pitching. As PR professionals, we’re always trying to sell – our clients, their messages, our ideas and ourselves – and having a smart strategy is the best approach.

Here are four reasons to think through your pitch – when selling a product, service or even a creative story idea:

First, know your target audience. No sales effort is worth the energy and effort if the recipient of the pitch isn’t in the ballpark of being appropriate. You won’t close a deal if the target doesn’t need/want whatever it is that you are pushing. It’s sales (and PR) 101, really, but more often than not you make email and phone pitches that are, well, not worth your prospects’ time. (Anonymous salesperson – have you looked us up? We’re not a good target.) For PR professionals, the consequences of this approach can be even more far-reaching and impactful. While a sales prospect might just hang up, a reporter could blacklist you from all future communications – on-target or off.

Second, after you identify the appropriate prospect, the messages you deliver need to hit the center of the target – otherwise, the pitch falls flat. All business leaders (and editors…) are inundated with sales pitches of all shapes and sizes, and the messages – the words you use – need to resonate with the target. Key care-abouts are of interest, but not overly wordy descriptions that promise to magically fix something you don’t need fixed. Useless marketing jargon and buzzwords are ineffective in both sales and PR, and they’ll lose your target’s attention before you’re finished your first sentence.

Third, it’s a highly collaborative and interactive world, and you can do your organization a major disservice by taking a mindless, volume-based approach toward selling. How many Twitter handles have been created as a result of poor customer service experiences? Well, the same can be said for businesses that have gone to market with false or embellished claims. You should be smart and savvy in gaining the attention of your target, but never in a way that results in independent criticism or widely publicized critique.

Fourth, selling costs money and you need to be smart in the way you apply budget to your cause! You shouldn’t invest in email campaigns delivered to the wrong audience, or participate in poorly executed pitches with messaging irrelevant to those in the room. To experience the very best ROI, you need to think through the opportunity and be certain that the strategy and message are on target. It’s been proven time and time again that the spray-and-pray method of communications does not lead to long-term success.

What are other reasons to think through your selling strategy before moving forward?