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What Is Sales Engagement?

Posted in: Buyer Engagement, Sales

Connecting with prospects is key to securing new business.

But standing out to prospects in our cluttered digital sales landscape is difficult. How can salespeople cut through the noise and drive impactful engagements with prospects?

The answer lies with your sales engagement strategy. Done right, an effective sales engagement strategy will ensure that your sellers know how and when to reach customers, leaving no prospect behind.

In this guide, we’ll break down what makes a sales engagement strategy shine, including:

What Is Sales Engagement?

Sales engagement refers to the sequence of interactions that take place between a salesperson and a prospect throughout the sales cycle. Today, most interactions take place on calls or online via email or social media, allowing businesses to build scalable engagement strategies that accelerate revenue growth.

Here’s how it works: Rather than letting salespeople randomly determine how and when to engage customers, sales leaders can use data to build a formalised framework that tells salespeople how and when to engage with buyers. This ensures that buyers are receiving the right information at the right stage of their buyer’s journey, and that salespeople keep deals moving forward.

Sales Engagement vs. Sales Enablement

Though they may sound similar, sales engagement and sales enablement focus on two separate aspects of rep productivity.

Sales engagement is centred on efficiency: most engagement strategies accelerate a rep’s output through a systematic approach to buyer engagement.

Sales enablement, on the other hand, is focused on effectiveness. It seeks to ensure that every engagement is impactful by empowering teams with knowledge of what to know, say, show, and do.

Together, sales enablement and sales engagement help scale your sales processes to ensure that every rep, from your SDRs to your account managers, knows exactly how to maximise every customer interaction across the buyer’s journey. Take a look at how you can integrate your enablement and engagement efforts here.

What Is Prospect Engagement?

Prospect engagement is a subset of sales engagement, focused on the early stages of the buyer’s journey. When engaging a prospect, salespeople more than ever need to capture and keep buyer attention. Doing so can be achieved with a tested, formalised approach to engaging buyers.

Your exact approach will vary depending on your business. In fast-paced SaaS selling environments, for example, this may mean rapid, frequent communication with buyers across many channels. For more traditional industries, like financial services, engaging prospects might require a slower approach over a longer sales cycle.

Ultimately, tailoring your prospect engagement strategy to your buyers will be key to driving impact.

What Is a Sales Engagement Platform?

A sales engagement platform is an essential part of your engagement strategy. Sales engagement platforms allow you to scale your approach to prospect engagement by guiding rep activities throughout the customer journey.

With the addition of sales engagement technology, you can quickly map out a path for effective engagement across email, direct mail, phone, social media, and other channels. Operating through a platform ensures that the impact of these activities is tracked, allowing businesses to use data to drive decisions around their overall sales strategy.

A good sales engagement platform typically has:

  • Workflow: These features will allow you to scale your engagement strategy
    • Email/call sequencing
    • Email scheduling
    • Outreach templates
    • CMS/Email integrations
  • Analytics: These features are critical to understanding how your reps and your business is performing
    • Open rates/views
    • Content engagement activity
    • Rep activity
  • Calling: These features will boost rep productivity
    • Call types
    • Click-to-call
  • Contacts: These features ensure reps can make smart decisions regarding account-based selling
    • Prospect data management
    • Account-based selling support

A word of caution, however — a sales engagement platform can make it easy to bombard customers with automated emails and inquiries. Be sure your engagement approach up-levels interactions without overwhelming buyers.

How to Accelerate Sales with Sales Engagement

So what does a sales engagement strategy look like in practice?

An effective sales engagement campaign will accelerate sales by providing an outreach framework to guide salespeople throughout the sales process. Just look at the example sales sequence below.

Sales Engagement steps

These sequences can be built to guide salespeople through any sales process: first sale, renewal, upselling, and cross-selling.

But be sure to emphasise that these frameworks, especially if automated, are just that — frameworks: as salespeople engage with buyers, it’s important to monitor their response. If a lead expresses negative sentiments at any stage, it’s better to back off and save the relationship than push through with the sequence.

Best Practices for Effectively Engaging Prospects

Now that you have an understanding of what sales engagement is and why it matters, it’s time to start building your sales engagement strategy. Use the tips below to create an impactful program that accelerates sales and grows your business.

Align with Marketing

Much of your engagement strategy will be supported by marketing-created content. These are the assets that your salespeople will send via social media or email. Therefore, it’s essential that you have tight alignment with your marketing team to ensure that you have visibility into what’s being created, but also that it supports your team’s needs.

The easiest way to do this is by setting up a recurring meeting where marketing reviews their upcoming content strategy and editorial calendar. This will ensure that you can offer timely feedback and prepare your teams to make the most of this content when it launches.

Invest in Technology

As with any element of your sales strategy, the right tools make it that much easier for you to achieve your goals. To effectively implement your sales engagement strategy at scale, investing in both a sales engagement and a sales enablement platform is important.

A sales engagement platform will allow you to rapidly build, optimise, and analyse your sales engagement strategy. A sales enablement platform, on the other hand, will ensure your reps have the content, training, and guidance they need to respond to buyers effectively.

Personalise Everything

With powerful technology also comes great responsibility: The ability to automate workflows can tempt salespeople to send flurries of templated emails. But this is a sure path for failure — buyers not only want but expect personalised communications and insights from salespeople.

Ensure your teams don’t make this mistake by building space for personalisation into email templates. A simple solution is to include  “{Personalise}” as a reminder at the beginning of templates, after the greeting. But the importance of personalisation should also be reinforced via coaching sessions, sales plays, and team syncs.

Continuously Optimise

The work doesn’t end once you’ve launched your sales engagement strategy: Once reps have adopted your sequences and are using the required platforms to engage buyers, your mindset should shift from “launch” to “optimise.”

This requires diving deep into your sales engagement and enablement platform analytics. Look at both high-level metrics – such as cumulative open rates, view times, or number of SQLs – as well as individual-level performance metrics. This will help you understand the impact of your sales engagement strategies and identify opportunities to support poor performers.

Get Creative

Finally, every sales engagement strategy should leave room for fun. Buyers are human, after all, and a hyper-personal outreach effort can make the difference between a recycled lead and a won deal.

Lean into creative engagement approaches, such as sending personalised gear, or gift cards to local coffee shops or restaurants. Creative touches don’t have to be purely monetary either – a fun reference to a pop culture moment or something a buyer shared on LinkedIn can also be effective, like the example below.

Sample email

Grow Your Business with Sales Engagement

With the right sales engagement strategy and tools in place, you can ensure that every sales rep is maximising their performance and moving your business forward.

Explore more tips on winning sales strategies with the Sales Leader’s Guide to Digital and Virtual Selling.

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