Sales Engagement Software 2020: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Sales Engagement

Every software buyer goes through his own journey to make a purchase decision. During this journey, the sales rep can assist him and provide him the necessary content to make a sound choice. This process of engaging with the prospect, what frequency to engage, what material to provide etc is called sales engagement. Thus, Sales Engagement is the process of engaging the prospects throughout their buying cycle across all channels.

What is Sales Engagement software

Sales Engagement software is primarily responsible for 3 key critical tasks

  • Engaging with prospects across channels ( Email, calls, social media, SMS, etc)
  • Automation of engagement cadences, sequences, and workflows
  • Managing marketing material like presentations, white papers, case studies, etc

With the sales engagement, software reps can design personalized messages across channels, adjust the frequency/cadences of engagement, choose content based on buyer needs, analytics on sales activities to further improve outreach, etc thus supporting the buyer throughout the purchase cycle.

Who uses Sales Engagement software

Sales Reps

Sales reps mainly use engagement tools to automate workflows reducing admin work to maximize selling time and personalizing communication for all prospects.

Sales Managers

Sales Managers can use engagement tools to get visibility into your sales activities, coach reps based on their sales engagement activities (which customers to prioritize, which activities to increase) or listen to call recordings (for better messaging, positioning, objection handling, etc).

Sales Operations

Engagement tools integrate with the CRM and it helps having all the data in one place which sales operations can further use for their analytics.

Customer Success

Customer success folks can schedule their communication as per their need and personalise messages helping them retain customers and even expand accounts.

Marketing

Messaging and customer profiling is critical to marketing and engagement tools help you do precisely that. Marketing teams use engagement tools to deliver the right message, to the right people at the right time.

Business problems solved by Sales Engagement

Business problems solved by Sales Engagement

Increase Buyer / Customer Engagement

Emailer

Email still is the most dominant way reps reach out to their prospects. Hence most engagement tools focus on providing a great email engagement experience by having a wide range of email capabilities that help them improve close rates. So much so that some of them exclusively focus on email experience for the sales rep.

Reps can choose from existing templates and set up personalized email cadence at appropriate times to touch base with customers throughout their journeys. They can set automation rules based on persona, activity, account, etc. and even relevant content (videos, case studies, reports, etc) based on the stage of the buyer journey.

This software has superior tracking metrics as well to check the level of buyer engagement. Top capabilities include tracking email deliverability, email open rates, email clicks, replied status, etc. Finally, having these response rate metrics also helps them test their messaging and iterate to understand what rings well with the customers.

Before SL, I was working primarily off of spreadsheets and it was a nightmare. Being able to have a cadence build with pre-populated emails saves me hours in the day and allows me to never let prospects slip through the cracks.

L V

Liana V

Owner / Photographer

Auto - Dialer

Calling is considered a preferred method of engagement by sales reps and engagement tools help you do exactly that. Even on mobile. Auto dialers are tools that automate the process of dialing phone numbers.

There are three types of autodialers

Power / Preview dialer

These dialers allow the sales rep to have a preview of the details about the lead. This helps the rep to decide if he wants to call or not and dial the number sequentially. They are best suited for products with long and deep engagement sales cycles.

Progressive dialer

Progressive dialer goes one step ahead of the power dialer and optimizes on the time by showing the sales rep the lead details while the call is being made. As a consequence of this the sales rep doesn’t get the option to decide whether to call the lead or not.

Predictive dialer

It is the most powerful of the three dialers and offers more speed and efficiency for the sales team. It can make multiple calls at the same time and connects to the sales rep only when it detects that the call has been picked by the customer.

All these dialers provide local code and custom caller ID to increase pick up rates. Reps further improve conversions by calling at the right time by organizing contact lists by activity, time zones, call history, etc. They can easily set up triggers to alert them to call prospects when certain events happen like when the customer engages with your content on the email. Features such as voice drop and VOIP help improve rep productivity. Since everyone is using the same tool it helps to avoid duplication of effort. Finally, this software also provides call analytics that improves team effectiveness by providing a detailed understanding of call conversions.

Some tools provide engagement capabilities for web conferencing, Chat, Texting as well as social media.

Improve Sales Productivity

The second biggest premise of engagement tools is that they give back reps selling time by cutting off a lot of admin work that they have to do. By automating key workflows and capabilities such templates, triggers, alerts, reminders etc they save reps a lot of time which directly translates to reps doing more selling and ultimately increases revenue.

Sales Coaching

Engagement tools allow you to record conversations and sales activities. Sales managers can know how many prospects were reached, what was told to them, which channels were used etc. Armed with all this information they can decide which activities to emphasize, which accounts to go after, what messaging is leading to most conversions, which products are working best etc. Having direct visibility into sales activities and conversations allows managers to coach reps to improve conversion rates.

Managers can even listen to the calls, live coach the sales rep during the call or even join the call in case the need arises. Managers can add comments and give feedback to reps for better performance. They can use the leaderboard to identify best performers and organize a competition between reps to improve performance. These tools also take live notes and transcribe your calls.

My team knows exactly who to call, send email, Social Media and Video and what to say every morning they come into work. I can easily check on their activity and offer coaching on areas that are unique roadblocks for each rep. It helps managing my reps and delivery great reports for my executive team.

D M

Deborah M

Human Resources

Lead Intelligence, Scoring, and Routing

Because sales engagement tools are used to stay in touch with leads through their buy cycle, they have a lot of information about the buyer like activity history, personality, interest level, etc. All this data is used the engagement tools to score leads and prioritize them based on their chances of conversion. Further, they can route these leads based on custom logic to the appropriate sales reps saving time and giving reps leads they can convert.

Training and Onboarding

Having a library of all the best-recorded conversations can help managers improve their training programs and reduce rep ramp-up times. Call recordings can also help sales rep get up to speed on the details and progress of any deal.

Analytics and Reporting

Tools help managers with insights to identify top performers, their engagement patterns, their cadences, content, timings etc so that it can be replicated to the entire sales team. These tools sync in real-time with the CRM and partner with the best in class reporting tools.

Other benefits include that it keeps the CRM updated with all the sales activities that occur on its platform.

How AI is used in Sales Engagement

Personalization

Sales engagement tools have a lot of data about the customers in conjunction with the CRM. They know what messages have been sent, when, which of them were responded to, on which channel, etc. All this enables the AI to personalize the messaging and cadence to each customer’s goals, problems, interests, needs etc to further improve the response rates.

Intent Reporting

The AI can read the customer responses and do sentiment analysis to understand the intent of the customer. AI can classify the responses into the ones which are positive intent as they usually demand more information, and ask for further engagement or negative intent as they usually indicate the presence of an existing solution. This helps reps plan their engagement activities better without reading through all the mails and saving them time.

Guided Engagement and Selling

Once AI understands the intent of each response (whether the customer is interested or not), it first prioritizes which leads to go after and then even recommends the next step based on past behaviours of each customer.

How Sales Engagement software differentiate themselves

Number of Channels they support

The primary way these tools differentiate themselves is based on the number of channels they support. Reps can engage with customers on the following channels

  • Email
  • Calls
  • Social Media
  • Chat
  • SMS
  • Online Conferencing

Some tools specialize only in one channel, while others provide support for a combination of these channels. For example, yesware specializes in email while SalesLoft supports email, calls and social media.

Also, the depth in which they offer services for each of these channels is a key differentiator. For example, for calls, some tools only record your calls, while others go deeper transcribing them and giving you search and analytics capabilities on calls.

Other Capabilities apart from engagement

Some tools integrate with prospecting tools while some of them have an inbuilt database for lead generation and prospecting. For example, yesware provides integration with LinkedIn sales navigator while apollo.io has a database built into it. Some tools like clearslide provide content management capabilities along with engagement features.

How to select software for Sales Engagement

Who should buy Sales Engagement solution

Sales engagement solutions are usually industry and b2b / b2c agnostic. But the size of your organization does play a role. If your sales team size is small, you are better off with a lightweight, easy to use solution. But if you work for a big company, then you will need all enterprise-grade features such as account and role management, single sign on, etc. For example, myemma is a solution designed for professionals who either work alone or a small team of 5 people. But Outreach is a platform that caters to the needs of a large enterprise.

Which is your primary sales channel

While you may use multiple channels to reach your customers, most companies have a preferred channel, the one from where most of the customers are. While deciding your platform, make sure that your solution has robust features for this channel. For example sales loft has robust features for email while dialsource has robust features for calls.

Align your engagement tool with your sales strategy

Some organizations focus on accounts while some focus on individual prospecting, some organizations follow a highly targeted personalized outreach while others do mass communication. Depending on which sales strategy suits your business the most, the solution should be able to adapt to that for maximum returns.

Pointed solution vs a Platform

Finally, depending on your sales process, what type of solution will solve your problem better. If you rely heavily on email and want to have a range of features and integrations around email, then a pointed solution like yesware suits you best. But if your sales process and customer acquisition and engagement strategy extend across channels and you are from a large organization, then a platform like SalesLoft suits you better.

CRM and other Integrations

The CRM and your sales engagement solution are probably the two most important solutions in your sales tech stack. So they must have a native integration for data to flow smoothly.

Apart from the CRM , there are other integrations needed to make the most of Sales engagement solutions for them to work best with most of your existing processes and systems. For example, having integration with Gmail, outlook helps reps manage email communication better, integration with prospecting tools like zoominfo, linkedin sales navigator helps reps send mails directly from the engagement platform, etc.

Top challenges using Sales engagement software

If you are an enterprise, sometimes the workflows can be complex and training is needed for the reps to make the most of the engagement solution.

Sales Engagement Software

Phoneburner Icon

Phoneburner

4.75
★★★★★
★★★★★

PhoneBurner | Turn leads into live conversations

Mailshake Icon

Mailshake

4.65
★★★★★
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Mailshake: A Simple Cold Email Outreach Tool & Templates

Mixmax Icon

Mixmax

4.64
★★★★★
★★★★★

Mixmax | Gmail-based productivity app for customer-facing teams

Groove Icon

Groove

4.64
★★★★★
★★★★★

Groove | Sales engagement software that drives efficiency at every stage of the sales process

Vanillasoft Inside Sales CRM Icon

Vanillasoft Inside Sales CRM

4.61
★★★★★
★★★★★

Vanillasoft Inside Sales CRM | Sales Engagement platform keeps your sales team focused on engaging your leads and growing revenue

Reply Sales Automation Icon

Reply Sales Automation

4.60
★★★★★
★★★★★

Reply | Multichannel sales engagement platform to Supercharge Your Sales Team

Docsify Email Tracking Icon

Docsify Email Tracking

4.59
★★★★★
★★★★★

Docsify - The best mail tracker for Gmail

RingDNA Icon

RingDNA

4.53
★★★★★
★★★★★

RingDNA | Everything Your Team Needs to Accelerate Revenue. The #1 Solution for Salesforce Customers

Klenty Inside Marketing Automation Icon

Klenty Inside Marketing Automation

4.51
★★★★★
★★★★★

Klenty | The Sales Engagement Platform For Growing Sales Teams

PersistIQ sales engagement Icon

PersistIQ sales engagement

4.47
★★★★★
★★★★★

PersistIQ | The sales engagement tool with the simplest, cleanest interface.

Kixie Integrated Voice Icon

Kixie Integrated Voice

4.47
★★★★★
★★★★★

Kixie | The ultimate voice and SMS platform for sales teams

Sendbloom Icon

Sendbloom

4.45
★★★★★
★★★★★

Sendbloom | Make direct sales effortless. Turn leads into opportunities with personal, persistent sales campaigns

Tellwise sales acceleration software Icon

Tellwise sales acceleration software

4.39
★★★★★
★★★★★

Tellwise | Accelerate your sales pipeline with valuable analytics and powerful integration between email, phone, and chat

Salesloft Icon

Salesloft

4.39
★★★★★
★★★★★

SalesLoft | Sales Engagement platform, helps the world's top-performing teams transform the way they sell

Yesware Icon

Yesware

4.35
★★★★★
★★★★★

Yesware - Empowering to create and develop valuable business relationships

Outreach Icon

Outreach

4.34
★★★★★
★★★★★

Outreach | Sales Engagement Platform, Sales Automation Software

Frontspin sales communication Icon

Frontspin sales communication

4.28
★★★★★
★★★★★

FrontSpin | Sales Communication Software & Power Dialer

Saleshandy Icon

Saleshandy

4.28
★★★★★
★★★★★

SalesHandy - Turn your emails into a Growth Engine

Cirrus Insight Icon

Cirrus Insight

4.22
★★★★★
★★★★★

Cirrus Insight | Manage sales... without leaving your inbox

ContactMonkey Icon

ContactMonkey

4.21
★★★★★
★★★★★

ContactMonkey | Measure internal communications from your company newsletter

Salesforce Inbox Icon

Salesforce Inbox

4.14
★★★★★
★★★★★

Salesforce Inbox | Supercharge sales with productivity apps designed for reps

Lightning Dialer Icon

Lightning Dialer

4.02
★★★★★
★★★★★

Lightning Dialer | an outbound calling product with the option to add inbound calling functionality.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Einstein Icon

Salesforce Sales Cloud Einstein

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★

Sales Cloud Einstein | Turn Sales Reps into Geniuses

Criteo Customer Acquisition Icon

Criteo Customer Acquisition

3.93
★★★★★
★★★★★

Criteo Customer Acquisition | Start targeting new customers with personalized product recommendations

Dealhub Icon

Dealhub

4.73
★★★★★
★★★★★

DealHub | #1 Solution for CPQ, Sales Proposals & Contract Management

Costello Icon

Costello

4.70
★★★★★
★★★★★

Costello | Sales Co-Pilot Software

Jiminny Icon

Jiminny

4.69
★★★★★
★★★★★

Jiminny | The Platform built to help your sales team grow

Freshsales Icon

Freshsales

4.69
★★★★★
★★★★★

Freshsales | Freshsales CRM - your team can now use AI-based lead scoring, phone, email, activity capture and more

Dooly sales enablement Icon

Dooly sales enablement

4.68
★★★★★
★★★★★

Dooly - Real-time sales playbooks that win

Olono Icon

Olono

4.58
★★★★★
★★★★★

Olono | Real-Time Guided Selling for B2B Sales

Close CRM Icon

Close CRM

4.54
★★★★★
★★★★★

Close CRM | Inside Sales Software CRM with Calling & Emailing

Lead411 B2B Sales Icon

Lead411 B2B Sales

4.54
★★★★★
★★★★★

Lead411 | Become Instantly more Effective with our Trigger-Based Sales Intelligence Platform

Hubspot Sales Hub Icon

Hubspot Sales Hub

4.47
★★★★★
★★★★★

Hubspot Sales Hub | Sales Software for Small to Enterprise Companies

Talkdesk Icon

Talkdesk

4.46
★★★★★
★★★★★

Talkdesk | Combines Enterprise Performance With Consumer Simplicity for Customer Satisfaction, Increase Productivity

Nimble CRM Icon

Nimble CRM

4.44
★★★★★
★★★★★

Nimble CRM | CRM Software To Grow Your Business

Convoso contact center Icon

Convoso contact center

4.43
★★★★★
★★★★★

Convoso | The Secret to Profitable Dialing

Dialpad Sell Icon

Dialpad Sell

4.41
★★★★★
★★★★★

Dialpad Sell | An AI-powered sales communications solution

Clearbit Enrichment Icon

Clearbit Enrichment

4.40
★★★★★
★★★★★

Clearbit Enrichment | Append fresh social and company data to email

Aircall.io Icon

Aircall.io

4.34
★★★★★
★★★★★

Aircall | Cloud Call Center Software & Business Phone System

Leadboxer Lead Generation Icon

Leadboxer Lead Generation

4.32
★★★★★
★★★★★

LeadBoxer | The Best Email & Lead Tracking Software

Genesys PureConnect Icon

Genesys PureConnect

4.23
★★★★★
★★★★★

Genesys | all-in-one omnichannel contact center and communications solution

Aspect Call Center Icon

Aspect Call Center

4.20
★★★★★
★★★★★

Aspect | Call Center Solutions for Better Customer Engagement

Tact.ai Sales Platform Icon

Tact.ai Sales Platform

4.20
★★★★★
★★★★★

tact.ai | Conversational Sales Platform where sales and customer teams work through conversational workflows

ClearSlide Platform Icon

ClearSlide Platform

4.18
★★★★★
★★★★★

ClearSlide - The Sales Engagement Platform that Closes Deals

Salesforce Essentials Icon

Salesforce Essentials

4.13
★★★★★
★★★★★

Salesforce Essentials | Salesforce Essentials was designed and priced with small businesses in mind

Five9 Icon

Five9

4.10
★★★★★
★★★★★

Five9 | Leading Cloud Contact Center Platform for the Digital Enterprise

Cloze Icon

Cloze

4.04
★★★★★
★★★★★

Cloze - The no-work way to see everything about your contacts in one place

OutboundWorks Icon

OutboundWorks

3.92
★★★★★
★★★★★

OutboundWorks - Automated sales development platform