What is Sales Engagement?
In short, sales engagement is the interactions that occur between buyers and sellers. These engagements can be broken into interactions that occur on a macro and on a micro-level. On a macro level, engagements are the touchpoints that happen through various sales channels, such as the phone, email, social media, and chat. Sales engagements are the conversations, email exchanges, Zoom meetings, and individual conversations that happen within those channels. On a micro level, sales engagement is measured in call length, email opens, site clicks, and so on.
Sales engagement data is used to identify what activities, content, and sales tactics drive effective sales conversations and eventually increase revenue generation. The measurements it provides also help sales managers drive team performance. Sales engagement allows managers to track content usage and activities to develop benchmarks. They then can compare individual rep performance in order to surface coaching opportunities, better train reps, and increase overall effectiveness.
This data enables sales organizations to craft and deliver high quality, engaging, and effective interactions with prospects and customers to increase sales success. This is crucial, as buyers increasingly expect salespeople to act as advisors and guide them to making a good decision, rather than selling them. A Salesforce study found that 57% of buyers had pulled out of a purchase process because a competitor provided a superior buying experience. Therefore, sales teams must optimize their sales engagements as much as possible.
Sales engagement data is also extremely valuable to marketing teams, as it provides insight into what content, messaging, channels, etc. are most effective for capturing and nurturing sales leads.
The definition of sales engagement can now also include the technologies, tools, and platforms drive and measure sales engagements. Some sales engagements can be automated, however, the more personal they are, the more effective. Automated sales engagements can include emails, notifications, SMS messages, and chats. Automation is excellent for rapid response and addressing needs instantaneously, but the vast majority of buyers know when something is automated. It is important to make these automations as intelligent and personalized as possible, either by using some sort of intelligence or personalization engine.
Sales Engagement and The Buyer’s Journey
When done properly, sales engagements are aligned with the buyer’s journey. This means that whenever possible, engagements should be focused on the long-term goal of acquiring and retaining customers. Therefore, these sales interactions should always be high quality, and provide value that moves the conversation forward.
Sales Engagement Platforms
So, sales engagements are interactions between buyers and sellers. But today, sales and marketing teams generate a massive amount of lead volume, and buyers expect sales reps to be more responsive than ever. Therefore, sales engagement platforms help salespeople better interact with buyers. Sales engagement platforms automate messages, monitor interactions, record activities, and provide a singular point where sales reps can accomplish all of their sales engagement goals.
According to TOPO, the sales enablement category consists of five key segments, which they break down into channels, content and messaging, optimization, sales activity automation, and sales engagement platforms. Each one of these categories integrates with a sales organization’s CRM to optimize sales through increased productivity and increased data.
Channels are the method through which interactions with prospects are performed. This includes engagements through the phone, SMS, email, video, chat, and social media
The Content and messaging category is for tools and technologies that make real-time suggestions to reps during sales engagements. These tools use AI to monitor conversations for keywords like competitors or features, and then automatically surface useful information or content that the rep can use during the engagement.
Optimization includes the analysis of sales engagements in order to improve their performance. This includes platforms that can analyze spoken conversations from the phone or video, as well as email.
The sales activity automation category includes technologies that automate all or part of the sales engagements. This includes data collection on the interaction, including where it was performed, for how long, the outcome, etc. Platforms that automate sales activities like emails, messages, and chat also fit into Sales activity automation.
Finally, sales engagement platforms are defined as the interface where all of the others take place. They provide the screens to analyze data to optimize sales engagements, as well as for sales teams to forecast and identify trends.
Sales Engagement vs. Sales Enablement
Where sales engagements are the actual engagements that occur between a buyer and a seller, sales enablement is both the processes and platforms that provide sales teams with the resources, support, training, and methods to sell as effectively as possible. Sales enablement allows sales reps to engage with prospects and customers in a manner that provides maximum value within every sales engagement.
Sales enablement encompasses several areas. These include, hiring and onboarding, training and coaching, ongoing enablement, and internal evaluation.
In the hiring and onboarding area, a sales organization finds, recruits, and hires the best possible salespeople. Remember, the best salespeople for your organization may not be the best for someone else’s, it all comes down to personality, skills, and selling style. Hiring and onboarding are key to enablement because you want to find sales reps that fit within your organizations culture and who will be positively impacted by the career opportunities and trainings that are available.
Training and coaching include the ongoing coaching and education of sales reps. This contains consistent coaching plans, as well as one-off training events. These both equip sales reps with the tactics, knowledge, skills, and insights that they need to be effective in sales.
Ongoing enablement means the evaluation, introduction, and maintenance of tools, content, and other methods that enable salespeople to be as successful as possible. This includes sales tools like dialers, and voicemail drop to automated email platforms and lead enrichment or access to sales groups and thought leadership.
Finally, internal evaluation monitors all the other mechanisms to ensure they are working as effectively as possible and seeks to make improvements.
TOPO has found that 87% of sales development organization have adopted a sales engagement platform, and that 92% of sales development groups consider them crucial to their team’s success.
Why are sale engagements important?
It is a core component of a sales rep’s job to talk with buyers. Each and every one of these individual interactions is a sales engagement. These interactions must be meaningful and valuable to ultimately help a salesperson achieve their desired goal of closing a deal. However, because sales reps talk to buyers day in and day out, they can lose sight of the fact that every little interaction matters. That’s why sales engagements must be measured and improved.
How to Measure Sales Engagement
Now that sales engagement occurs through so many channels, it’s necessary to measure it at every level.
These channels include:
- Phone calls
- Direct mail
- Social media
Often reps use nearly all of these methods to reach out to contacts, especially when using ABM.
Sales sequences that include multiple sales channels have been proven to lift revenue for companies. But tracking all of these activities across channels is not always easy.
Here are a few tactics that have proven to be effective.
1. Make sure to Always Tie in Sales Activities to Results
Sales managers need to measure sales performance at the end of the day, and sales activities across channels do not necessarily reflect that. This is why they need to tie in activities with KPIs such as conversion, appointments held, demos and revenue.
There are many KPIs, but examples include:
Pipeline metrics: Metrics related to how much pipeline the reps build. These are: the number of meetings, the number of appointments set, appointments held or sales activity. You can also count deals opened and closed in the same quarter, touches per appointments, or forecast accuracy.
Quota metrics: Revenue, closed deals, win ratio, deal size and sales cycle.
2. Segment Your List and Allocate Resources Wisely
Using multiple communication channels is awesome, got it. But this can become a significant investment when it comes to sales rep’s time. This is where list segmentation comes in.
“The time commitment can be significant, so we evaluate and segment our prospect lists based on our “right-to-win” the prospect’s business. Prospects that rank highest receive the omnichannel program, whereas prospects just outside our sweet spot receive a program with fewer outreach channels. While we have found that our team is more successful in setting appointments using traditional channels like phone and email, prospects frequently reference seeing the messages in the other non-traditional channels,” said Christian Banach, Business Development Director at Genuine Interactive and sales coach.
3. Compensate Based on Results, Not On Sales Activity Alone
You would think that with all the evidence pointing towards multiple communication channels, this strategy would make it into the sales rep’s compensation plans. However, sales leaders prefer a balanced approach and use quota metrics more often than not to determine sales rep’s commissions.
“Attribution is hard to track in omnichannel communication. So, if someone closes by phone, they may have had previous interactions through email or social media that helped them close. So it’s unfair to only count email as the channel that makes an impact,” said Carsten Schaefer, founder and CEO at crowdy.ai.
4. Break Down Goals Into Achievable Targets
Sales teams work better if they believe their targets are achievable, so it’s always good to have a simple way to explain quotas. Whatever sales KPI you are using to track omnichannel communication, make sure it’s easy to understand by the sales reps.
Omnichannel communication is a great strategy in an age of ever-evolving sales cadence tools. Your niche and industry will typically have a preference towards specific communication channels, but it’s up to you to find out what they are.