Sales engagement isn't simply picking up the phone, making a call, and jotting down notes anymore. The landscape is competitive; not even CRM platforms have the functionality to keep up with recent industry shifts. 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, what features to look for in a dedicated platform, and how to optimize them to enhance your sales team's productivity.
What Is a Sales Engagement Platform?
Sales engagement is the sum of all interactions made between the buyer and seller throughout the lifetime of a sale.
A sales engagement platform allows oversight, optimization, coordination, and most importantly—personalization at scale. Sales teams can utilize sales engagement platforms to increase their activity without compromising value.
What are the Benefits of a Sales Engagement Platform?
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.
These 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.
Sales Enablement Vs. Sales Engagement
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:
- Recruiting and new hires – onboarding the right people for the job
- Training and coaching – giving sales teams the know-how to effectively communicate with prospects
- Providing – equipping teams with the proper tools
- Analyzing – measuring touchpoints, sales reps, teams, and everything else to determine what's effective and what isn't
These share a common theme: 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.
An example of sales enablement is a case study written to answer generic questions for ideal buyers. Sales enablement not only empowers the sales team but creates more informed buyers.
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.
Sales Engagement Strategy: Creating a Sequence
Most sales engagement platforms will allow users to set up sequence templates—multi-step 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 pre-defined amount of time—depending on the sales team's overarching goal.
What Is a Touchpoint?
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.
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:
- Welcome Emails
- Email Newsletters
- Lead Nurturing Emails
- Dedicated Emails
- Re-Engagement Emails
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.
Examples of Effective Sequencing
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.
Company: Chili Piper
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.
Company: Predictable Revenue
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 over time to engage prospects persistently.
What Technology Produces the Best Results?
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:
- Messaging flows
- A/B testing
- Automatically populating leads into a pre-defined sequence
- Email syncing
- Calendar integration
Personalized Multi-Channel Outreach at Scale
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.
Putting It All Together
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!