Hitting quota and performing at the peak is your topmost priority, right? And the above statistics repeatedly highlight that sales engagement helps you achieve this target. From the stage a lead is generated to the point where he/she converts into a customer it is the ability to engage prospects efficiently that helps you reach your sales quota.
No wonder, sales engagement is considered their top priority by an overwhelming number of sales leaders.
Sales engagement isn't just about spray and pray cold calls and emails anymore. Sales has undergone a whole transformation in the past few years, as the world changed irrevocably. Sure, the landscape is competitive. It always has been. But the pace of change in preferences, outreach methodologies and even the tools available - has been huge. Your new prospects are engaged with the competition on dozens of channels and accustomed to finding immediate solutions to their problems. You need to be in eight different places at once, communicating simultaneously across platforms, and you're expected to add a personal touch in every interaction if you want to make the sale.
Sales teams today are empowered through technology. The rules have changed, but the core premise remains the same. So, how can sales teams create more opportunities, book more meetings at scale, and generate more revenue?
In this guide, you'll learn about sales engagement's core purpose, how Sales Engagement Platforms power sales, what features to look for in a dedicated platform, and how to optimize them to enhance your sales team's productivity.
Sales Engagement is the sum of all interactions made between the buyer and seller throughout the lifetime of a sale. A sales engagement platform is the tool that helps these interactions take place seamlessly to ensure they drive sales and revenue. Often, a Sales Engagement Platform is used interchangeably with a CRM. This is a myth, and there are many more. The truth is that sales teams NEED a sales engagement platform to do what they do best. SELL.
A sales engagement platform allows oversight, optimization, coordination, and most importantly—personalization at scale. Sales teams can use sales engagement platforms to increase their activity without having to do all the busywork themselves.
Think of a day in a salesperson’s life. There’s so much to do. From prospecting, to creating sequences. From adding contacts to lists, to completing their daily tasks. To put it simply, a Sales Engagement Platform is a place that helps unify all these efforts, make data accessible to help them personalize, and automate to stay efficient.
Here are a few common ways an organization benefits from implementing a sales engagement platform:
Sales engagement platforms help teams automate trivial processes by setting up templates, schedules, and sequences using disparate sales tools. These messages can often be customized and personalized on the spot or sent as-is, depending on the sales team's goals. The advantage of using software for sales engagement comes with real-time messaging across platforms to allow sales members to reply quickly—never missing a potential sale because of a delayed response. It also gives reps the opportunity to use templates that have worked, to build a scalable and repeatable process.
Sales engagement platforms also integrate with sales tools, such as CRMs, Outlook, phone, SMS, and social media to keep sales teams organized and on top of competitive landscapes. By accumulating and organizing these tools in one area, it unlocks a massive competitive advantage over organizations whose sales teams don't operate with clear vision and tasking across platforms.
Sales team members can place their prospects in specific sequences and work through a list of tasks that involve initiating, engaging, and closing sales.
Teams will likely see a significant boost in productivity once a sales engagement platform is integrated. However, performance and revenue increases don't stop there. Many platforms will help salespeople sell smarter by using the right forms of communication with the right tone at the right time.
No market is the same, which means specific sequences will work better for different teams. Therefore, the best platforms include tools designed to measure the effectiveness of each prospect touchpoint. Measuring these touchpoints allows sales teams to fix issues, innovate, and optimize them for the target market.
One of the most important benefits of a sales engagement platform is revenue growth. By improving your team's communication, becoming more efficient, and being able to optimize your sequences through data your sales team can expect to see a growth in revenue.
It's a common mistake to get sales enablement and sales engagement mixed up—but understandable as they coexist and share a common goal.
Sales enablement helps the sales team by providing the proper education, techniques, and process enhancements to make the most out of every buyer transaction. While each organization is different, common themes associated with sales enablement include:
Some popular initiatives undertaken are:
1. Coaching sales development representatives (SDRs) and account executives (AEs) to enhance their pitching and closing skills
2. Ensuring they are up-to-date with new product features being launched from time to time
3. Investing in technology such as CRMs and sales engagement platforms (SEPs) to automate manual tasks and increase the sales team’s productivity
4. Developing content such as case studies, blogs, videos, comparison pages, and alternative pages among others that can be shared with prospects to entice them
5. Training sales folks on how to use the various tools to their advantage
All the above-stated initiatives, as mentioned earlier cannot be possible without numerous teams such as sales, marketing, customer success, product management, technology, and human resources coming together. All these teams within the organization must join hands and enable the sales team by providing value to them as well as the sellers.
Research by Aberdeen revealed that organizations that focus on sales enablement are highly successful. 24% of them achieved a better individual quota, 32% attained a higher sales quota while 23% of them saw a higher lead conversion rate.
There's a common theme that both sales engagement and sales enablement share: giving the sales department everything they need to close more deals. There are many stages within the sales enablement process to ensure a sales team has everything they need, so identifying weak points is paramount to success. Sales teams will need to work closely with marketing, HR, customer service, and other departments to accomplish these goals.
How Are the Two Different?
If sales engagement is the sum of all interactions made between buyers and sellers throughout the lifetime of a sale, Then sales enablement is the tools, techniques, and education empowering each sales member's execution. Both work in tandem together and share the same goal—however, they are different in terms of functionality. Sales enablement doesn't end when the engagement starts. It's present through all phases of the sales process. What you need to keep in mind is that Sales Enablement is essential to get the most out of your sales engagement efforts, close deals faster and get those targets.
Most sales engagement platforms will allow users to set up sequence templates—multi-channel sales cadences designed to target prospects at the right time with the right message through the right channels. These sales cadences allow communication, automation, and personalization. Setting up sequences for specific groups can significantly increase the efficiency of a sales team, the scale of the operation, and the chances a prospect will eventually make a purchase. These sequences can be measured through analytics for optimization.
Sequences are made up of different sales touchpoints and delivered over a predefined amount of time—depending on the sales team's overarching goal.
Each interaction a prospect makes with an organization or sales team is considered a touchpoint. This includes contacting customer support, viewing the website, trying a demo, and engaging on social media. All these touchpoints live in different areas of the sales funnel—sales teams only focus on a specific set of touchpoints to complete the sale.
Here are some common touchpoints used in sales engagement sequences:
Picking up the phone and calling a prospect is one of the most effective touchpoints for some teams in closing a sale. Today's calls are often recorded (for review and coaching purposes) on sales engagement platforms. Cold calling strategy obviously varies by company and prospect, but there are proven best practices that always get results.
Emails are invaluable communication tools with many uses. The stage of the sales funnel a prospect is in determines which type of email is most effective. Some examples of email touchpoints include:
Emails target prospects with the intent of leading them to a sale, stoking their interest, or closing the deal on the spot.
Another valuable feature for emails is the ability to chat with outbound prospects. An example of this would be an email sent with a link to the website; once the prospect clicks the link, it will notify the sales rep to initiate an instant chat.
Sharing content and engaging on social media can be a powerful tool for sales teams to build awareness through value-providing posts, meaningful conversations, and connections with new contacts. Like email, there are multiple touchpoint types inside of the social media construct. LinkedIn, for example, helps sales teams generate personalized connection requests, send direct messages through InMail, engage on existing posts, and create/share valuable content.
Again, these social media touchpoints can be measured. LinkedIn allows sales teams to track the InMail response rate, percentage of connection requests accepted, and other valuable metrics.
Sending a text/SMS message is a quick, personable way to communicate with customers throughout the buyer journey. Text messages have much higher open rates than emails and better response rates than phone calls. Sending a message is often used to move the prospect into the next stage of the sales pipeline. For example, sales teams can send a message to communicate quickly and qualify the prospect into a lead. Then, send another message to set up a meeting or discovery call.
Text/SMS touchpoints are excellent when used with other touchpoints or as supplementary information for the buyer.
Combining different touchpoints into sequences takes time. Once a new sequence is created, sales teams should measure its effectiveness using analytics and A/B testing to draw conclusions. Using a template or another companies' sequence structure is an excellent place to start.
Here are a few examples of effective sequencing used by successful companies:
Goal: Start a conversation about CloudTask's services
Each email was personable and engaging with a good amount of copy to make the offering seem less like a pitch and more like a conversation.
Day 1: Email
CloudTask used a highly personalized and engaging email talking about how a sales call would play out and why they decided to send an email instead. They were forthcoming about their "10-second pitch" and relatable with their offering.
Day 4: Email
They once again leveraged a highly engaging and realistic email, joking about how their first email was lost in "the middle of 237 other sales emails." Once again, they gave their sales pitch, but they backed it up with how they're different and even included customer testimonials.
Day 8: Email
This final email was short and sweet. CloudTask attached a one-pager on "Sales Outreach Best Practices" and asked what they could do to earn five minutes of the prospect's time.
Sequences don't need to be complicated to be effective. CloudTask's style is relatable, authentic, and original, so their emails didn't get lost in a crowded inbox.
Goal: Book a discovery call and explore a mutual fit
Not everybody has time to personalize three separate emails to a prospect. That's why Chili Piper used a similar approach, but with two personalized emails and a quick follow-up in the middle.
Day 1: Email
The first email was personalized to the user and provided proof of concept using an interactive example of their A/B test results showing higher conversion rates.
Day 3: Email
The second email was a quick follow-up to ask if the prospect received the first email.
Day 6: Email
Chili Piper personalized the last contact attempt using a screenshot of the prospect's sign-up form on their website and attached a gif of Chili Piper's services in action.
Chili Piper does a great job laying the groundwork in early communications. This approach explains why the reply rates increase significantly between the first and the third email. They warm up the prospect then shock them with a real example of how Chili Piper can increase their conversion rates using their website's form.
Goal: Get more sales
While the first two examples are simple, some sequences work better integrating multiple touchpoints.
Day 1: Email, LinkedIn
Initial email, LinkedIn profile view
Day 4: Email
Follow-up "bump" email
Day 5: Call
Day 7: Email, LinkedIn
2nd follow-up email, LinkedIn follow-up message
Day 9: Call
Day 11: Email, LinkedIn
3rd follow-up email, LinkedIn follow-up message
Day 12: Call (VM)
Day 15: Email
4th follow-up email
Day 20: Email, LinkedIn
Break-up email, LinkedIn break up message
Day 21: Call (VM)
The primary function of this sequence is to get SDRs on the phone and to use LinkedIn and emails for supplementary purposes. Notice how Predictable Revenue uses a healthy mix of touchpoints and spreads them overtime to engage prospects persistently.
Sales engagement platforms help businesses communicate more efficiently through powerful features. Here are a few that drive better engagement and more sales:
Introducing automation into daily practice allows sales teams to focus more on the buyer and less on the busywork. Manual data entry is time-consuming and dangerous during the sales process as there's a greater margin for error when a sales team creates content from scratch. Most importantly, sales reps who can focus on selling the product—not surprisingly—sell more often, which means more revenue and reduced labor costs.
Some typical processes made more accessible through automation include:
Sales engagement platforms need the most efficient mediums of communication available to reach buyers faster than the competition. These include:
Using these communication methods isn't enough, as platforms need to provide sales teams with an opportunity to customize their messaging in a quick, straightforward way. At times, sales teams will need to contact hundreds of prospects, especially as their business scales. The platform should handle a large workload with the opportunity to personalize messages for better conversion rates.
The goal is to make every interaction one on one, making the buyer feel like they're the only person getting the offer. A platform with multi-channel, personalized outreach should accomplish this at scale.
Another helpful feature on sales engagement platforms is task execution. When a sequence of touchpoints is created, platforms need effectively execute touchpoints at scale. These tasks should run seamlessly without jumping from page to page.
Managers can often improve results with a few tweaks to the process. Streamlining and compartmentalizing workflows on a sales engagement platform allows for better measurement. Analytics can show where there's room for improvement, helping managers eliminate weak links in their sales engagement strategy. On a granular level, utilizing A/B testing can measure elements and tactics to determine what works and what doesn't to improve entire sequences.
Furthermore, managers can use the vast amount of data accumulated inside sales engagement platforms to coach individual sales members on their communications. These one-on-one coaching sessions are completely customized based on performance.
Overall, analytics and testing features enable teams to find the right sales outreach strategy, improve their sales members' productivity, and generate more revenue for the business.
A Sales Engagement Platform doesn’t work alone to empower your reps. There are many other tools, software, apps and platforms your reps need to use to sell successfully. A good Sales Engagement Platform has to integrate seamlessly with all other tools that your reps use, and give them a single platform view of everything they need. You could be using Salesforce, Hubspot or Pipedrive as your CRM. You’ll probably use a tool like Gong to monitor calls. Your reps will obviously need to configure their email and calendar tools. Your Sales Engagement Platform should ensure that your whole tech stack works as one, and your reps are looking only at one dashboard to go ahead and close those deals.
There are many Sales Engagement Platforms available today, each with their own metris. Evaluate your sales team’s needs, size, and targets to find one that works best for you. Not to mention one that fits your budget and offers incredible RoI. While it is essential to pick a platform that scales with your sales, it is also important to be realistic about the features you will need and use regularly. Don’t pay for features that exist but will never be used by your teams.
Sales engagement is every interaction between salespeople and their prospects, leads, and (hopefully) buyers. Platforms for sales engagement are designed to boost productivity for sales teams without compromising value using tools designed to interact and enhance communications through various touchpoints. These touchpoints can be added into a large block of communications—often referred to as sequences—which can be automatically sent using pre-defined time parameters.
The goal of using sequences and other essential features like task execution, analytics, and multi-channel outreach is to help sales teams generate meaningful one-on-one conversations throughout the buyer's journey—and do it at scale.
A critical part of sales engagement is human interaction. After all, people buy from people. If you're looking for a powerful sales engagement platform, something that can help you empower your sales teams, improve productivity, and reach thousands of buyers—ultimately supercharging revenue—try Outplay. Sales teams who use Outplay get all the features this article talks about and more. But Outplay isn't the #1 sales engagement platform simply because of features, it's #1 because it empowers sales teams to personalize their messaging across all communication mediums, delighting buyers by giving sales teams a human touch.
Curious about how to create more opportunities for your sales team? Try Outplay's free demo and book more meetings today!
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