Have you looked at a list of SalesTech vendors recently? Right now, there are over a thousand companies offering sales engagement solutions (1,078 to be exact). And it’s not going to stop there — many experts in the space have likened this to the MarTech boom, which experienced 1,776% growth in just the last four years.
In such an overwhelming marketplace, how are buyers supposed to figure out what they need? From understanding what sales engagement platforms are, to deciding which tools are most important for their sales stack, and knowing which questions to ask vendors when buying the technology, this guide has you covered.
Put simply, a sales engagement platform helps your reps to engage with buyers. A good platform will not only help reps to reach out on the phone, but it will also help them with texting, voicemails, emails, and even video meetings. But making these engagement activities frictionless is just the tip of the iceberg.
In Gartner’s Market Guide for Sales Engagement Applications, they outline eight essential capabilities of sales engagement solutions to meet the growing demands of revenue teams.
Sales engagement solutions that meet these requirements enable sellers to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort as a result of better workflows. For example, reps can do their work with fewer clicks, they can plan better, and ensure maximum CRM adoption.
So it’s no wonder that 51% of B2B companies currently have a sales engagement platform, with another 13% planning to add a sales engagement platform to their tech stack in 2022.
There are a lot of technical requirements out there, but to keep it simple, a great sales engagement platform should help you with the “three Ps”:
Reps spend less than 36% of their time selling. But with widespread adoption of sales engagement platforms, this is set to change as companies invest in new ways to increase sales productivity. Companies are using sales dialers to automate key processes like dialing and leaving voicemails, and sales dialers are especially powerful if they can automatically log data in your CRM without requiring manual effort from reps. To supercharge your reps’ productivity, your sales engagement platform should include features like:
McKinsey referred to personalization as “the prime driver of marketing success” over the next 5 years, but personalization requires accessing the right data in the right context. Companies often have heaps of customer data stored in their CRM or BI tools, but how useful is this data if reps can’t access it in the right context? The right integration between CRM, telephony and other sources of customer data can provide reps with the data they need to personalize calls including communications history, notes, ad preferences and more. Features that help with personalization include:
Sequencing tools are helping to remove guesswork by providing reps with a dynamically prioritized list of “next best actions” that reveal who to contact, how to contact them and what to say. In fact, Gartner’s research also shows that more than half of companies will be using guided selling over the next five years to help remove the guesswork from sales with prioritized “next best actions.” If prioritization is an important business goal for you, look for features like:
So you’ve found a sales engagement platform that looks like it meets your needs, and you’re ready to get a demo and start assessing if it will fit into your tech stack. How can you make sure that you’re an informed buyer, and you’re asking the right questions to make sure the solution will work for you?
The SalesTech marketplace can be tricky to navigate, which is why the Revenue.io SalesOps team set out to create a foolproof litmus test for new products. Don’t forget to ask these tried-and-true questions, and you can feel confident that you’re choosing the perfect sales engagement platform for your team.
1) Does it automate manual processes?
If a sales engagement solution can automate certain parts of your workflow, then it’s definitely worth considering. But if it can’t automate anything or will create more work in the long run, then eliminate it as an option. While assessing your options, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Good automation will…
But bad automation can…
So a word to the wise: good automation can make your life much easier, but bad automation is worse than no automation. It pays to be a discerning buyer.
2) Are the integrations thoughtfully designed?
Plenty of sales technologies these days tout lists of integrations with other products in your tech stack. But it’s important to understand that not all integrations are created equal. When you’re looking at a product, ask what sort of integration they use so that you can better understand how it will fit in with the rest of your tech stack. These are the four main forms of integration, from least to most desirable:
3) Does it give you actionable data in the moments that matter?
Data is only useful if you have it when you need it. If a sales engagement platform keeps your data stuck in a silo or makes it inconvenient to access, then it’s not serving its purpose. The right tools make the most up-to-date information available in the most important moment: now.
For example, let’s say that you’re buying a dialer for your sales reps. If the dialer gives you actionable data at the point of decision, then that means it’s presenting your reps with the data they need to have meaningful conversations on calls. Data like: what time zone the person they’re calling is in, what their title is, what company they’re in, etc. If it can give them information on past emails or phone calls with that person, then so much the better.
This is all information that you’re probably collecting right now, but by giving it to reps right when they need it (rather than making them seek it out in other systems), you’re able to gain a lot more value from it. The point of the story is that any tools which make your current data more valuable are worth considering.
4) Will it bloat your sales stack, or save you space?
To ensure that any sales technology you buy will earn its keep, stick to this rule: no single-use solutions. Every product you buy should be able to solve more than one issue for more than one team.
To do this, it’s best to look beyond whatever initial issue you’re trying to solve with a particular purchase. For instance, let’s say that your reps need a source of contact data so that they can get accurate phone numbers for prospects. In addition to solving that issue, it should also be able to provide contact data to marketing to enrich their send lists, or offer value in other ways.
Whatever you do, make sure that the data can flow easily between departments, and that it can help at least two groups of people. By doing this, you’ll be building a strong tech stack that can operate throughout the entire company, and preventing your Sales Ops team from getting bogged down by administrating lots of tools that only solve one problem at a time.
While it’s certainly possible to buy one platform for your dialer needs, another for your video meeting needs, and yet another for your email needs, you’ll run the risk of creating huge data and integration headaches down the road. Consolidating your tech stack will always pay off, and this is doubly true when it comes to sales engagement platforms.
5) Is it worth a long-term investment?
Don’t quickly buy a sales engagement platform to fix a short-term problem, thinking that you can always rip it out later and replace it if something better comes along. It’s best to put in the time and research up front, because the truth is that implementing a new platform is expensive both in terms of time and money.
Implementations of products that integrate with your greater tech stack take time, usually a few months (although there are some products out there that only take a few minutes, they’re rare). And once it’s implemented, you’ll need to take the time to drive adoption across your company with orientations, trainings, and troubleshooting.
Also, if you’ve already followed the other four steps while assessing your purchase, then the chances are that this technology is going to be deeply embedded in your go-to-market plan. So look at all your options with the long-term in mind, and take your time with the purchasing process.
“Aligning Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success around your tech stack’s data isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must.”
– Jordan Henderson, Sr. Director of Revenue Operations at Revenue.io
Let’s assume that you’ve decided what you need, assessed what’s out there, and bought a new sales engagement platform for your tech stack. What now?
Curious to see what other people are buying for their tech stacks this year? Dig into the latest research on what your peers are investing in, upgrading, or replacing in the 2022 Revenue Operations & Customer Acquisition Benchmark Report.
Mara is a Content Marketing Manager at Revenue.io, the revenue acceleration platform that leverages AI to transform sales teams into high-performing revenue engines. Mara is a passionate and creative storyteller who enjoys bringing a little bit of fun into B2B marketing.