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What is Sales Engagement? : A Guide for Revenue and Sales Leaders

Understanding and leveraging sales engagement is crucial for sales success. But what exactly is sales engagement, and why should revenue and sales leaders care? Sales engagement refers to the interactions between buyers and sellers throughout the sales process. These interactions occur on both macro and micro levels. At the macro level, we’re talking about touchpoints across various channels like phone calls, emails, social media, and chat. On the micro level, it involves specific metrics such as call duration, email open rates, and website clicks.

The importance of sales engagement cannot be overstated. Effective sales engagement impacts your bottom line by improving conversion rates and closing more deals. It also enhances customer experience, which is critical in a competitive market. A Salesforce study found that 57% of buyers abandoned a purchase because a competitor offered a superior buying experience. Moreover, sales engagement data helps managers identify coaching opportunities and set team benchmarks. It also provides valuable insights that can guide marketing teams in creating more effective content and campaigns.

Key components of sales engagement include a multi-channel approach, personalization, strategic content delivery, careful timing and cadence, and continuous analytics and optimization. Engaging prospects through various channels, tailoring interactions to each prospect’s needs, sharing relevant content, developing a strategic outreach schedule, and continuously analyzing engagement data are all crucial elements of a successful sales engagement strategy.

Many organizations are turning to sales engagement platforms to manage the complexity of modern sales engagement. These tools help automate messages, monitor interactions, and provide a centralized hub for all sales engagement activities. Key features of these platforms typically include activity tracking, sequencing capabilities, content management, robust analytics, and integration with other sales tools.

Measuring the success of your sales engagement efforts is crucial. Focus on key metrics such as activity metrics (number of calls, emails sent, social media interactions), response rates (email open rates, reply rates, call connection rates), conversion metrics (meetings scheduled, demos completed, proposals sent), pipeline metrics (opportunities created, deal velocity, win rates), and revenue impact (closed-won deals, average deal size, total revenue generated).

To boost your sales engagement, consider implementing these best practices: align your strategy with the buyer’s journey, provide value in every interaction, leverage technology effectively, invest in continuous training and coaching for your team, and regularly test and iterate on your approach based on data.

Sales engagement data identifies what activities, content, and 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 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 that drive and measure sales engagements. Some sales engagements can be automated; however, the more personal they are, the more effective they are. Automated sales engagements include emails, notifications, SMS messages, and chats. Automation is excellent for rapid response and instantaneously addressing needs, but most 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 a 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

Sales engagements are interactions between buyers and sellers. However, today, sales and marketing teams generate massive lead volume, and buyers expect sales reps to be more responsive than ever. Therefore, sales engagement platforms help salespeople better interact with buyers. A sales engagement platform automates messages, monitors interactions, records activities, and provides a singular point where sales reps can accomplish all their sales engagement goals.

According to TOPO, the sales enablement category comprises five key segments: 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 analyzing sales engagements to improve their performance. This includes platforms that can analyze spoken conversations from the phone, video, and 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 the others occur. They provide screens for analyzing data to optimize sales engagements and for sales teams to forecast and identify trends.

Why is understanding sales engagements critically important?

Talking with buyers is a core component of a sales rep’s job. Each and every one of these individual interactions is a sales engagement. These interactions must be meaningful and valuable to 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, measuring it at every level is necessary.

These channels include:

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 company revenue. However, 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 must measure sales performance at the end of the day, and sales activities across channels do not necessarily reflect that. This is why they must tie 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, appointments set, appointments held, or sales activity. You can also count deals opened and closed in the same quarter, touches per appointment, 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—I get it. But this can become a significant investment in sales reps’ 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 use to track omnichannel communication, make sure it’s easy to understand the sales reps.

Omnichannel communication is a great strategy in an age of ever-evolving sales cadence tools. Your niche and industry will typically prefer specific communication channels, but it’s up to you to determine which they are.