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 mainly use engagement tools to automate workflows reducing admin work to maximize selling time and personalizing communication for all prospects.
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).
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 folks can schedule their communication as per their need and personalise messages helping them retain customers and even expand accounts.
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
Increase Buyer / Customer Engagement
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.