Chris Harihar July 28, 2023 | 02:05:17

Three Barriers To Great Sales Tech PR

Why do most sales tech companies struggle to drive great PR? The sales tech market is incredibly hot. Look at companies like Crunchbase or Drift.

I’ve spoken to dozens of companies and platforms over the last few years — from SaaS for sales compensation to AI-powered sales enablement — to give them guidance on the PR challenges for the sales tech industry, in general, and how they can break through.

Here are three main barriers to consider:

A limited media universe 

There is a glaringly obvious shortage of traditional “sales-focused” reporters and publications for earned media. Adtech brands have publications like Adweek and AdAge, for example, but there is no equivalent Salesweek or SalesAge. There is a Search Engine Journal but no Sales Tech Journal. While there are numerous publications focused on revenue tech in general, there are only a handful of genuinely independent sales-focused reporters, and that’s being generous. Think about it. If you had to name a dedicated sales tech trade, can you name one outside of SalesTechStar? Probably not.

Fragmented news landscape  

The limited media landscape is partially driven by how fragmented news consumption is for the sales audience. Many get updates and insights from podcasts, guest articles in mainstream business publications like Forbes and Inc., and LinkedIn. Others read more tech-focused sales news from enterprise reporters at publications like TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Then there are B2B tech sites like DemandGen Report which cover sales tech alongside other areas like martech. So, the landscape is highly fragmented, on top of being limited.

Everyone drinks the Kool-Aid

Every sales tech company thinks they’re the coolest thing ever. But, when we speak about the situation honestly, the conversation is humbling. Sales-related topics just aren’t sexy to *most* media. This is a key reason sales sees a deficit of conventional outlets, but a surge in insider media (like podcasts by sales tech companies, LinkedIn communities, etc.), produced by the sales community itself. If you want the former, however, for more mass credibility, you need to recognize the soft appeal to most media and identify how to tell a story around that — with interesting angles that aren’t “just” about sales. This is what we do at Crenshaw Communications. 

Our work with Chili Piper is a great example. Chili Piper is an inbound conversion platform for B2B revenue teams. It tasked our agency with developing a media relations strategy to generate awareness for its brand as a leader in sales enablement. Understanding the barriers to great sales tech PR, our team developed a strategy focused on leveraging founder profiles, workplace culture stories, and entrepreneurial topics to position the company as a socially-continuous global business. One particular campaign focused on an initiative created by Chili Piper to help Ukrainian citizens following Russia’s invasion. The effort drove high-level coverage, including hits in top-tier outlets like CNBC, Forbes, and TechCrunch, and connected the initiative to the founders’ technical prowess, business ethos, and sense of responsibility as leaders who built a global company with people-first values. 

Driving great PR for sales tech has its challenges — a sparse media landscape, a fragmented audience, and self-aggrandizing tendencies within the industry. However, these barriers are surmountable. The key lies in strategic storytelling that extends beyond the conventional sales narrative, reaching for broader, more engaging themes that resonate with a diverse audience. Brand stories with elements of human interest, leadership, and social responsibility can earn high-level coverage and gain much-desired credibility.

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