Professionals who spend much of their time engaged in the Sales process – whether directly, in managerial roles, or as part of a related field like marketing – rely on a number of key tactics to refine their efforts as much as possible.
For example, managers handle various Sales enablement tasks to make sure their Sales reps have everything they need to succeed in proliferating the organization’s brand. Members of the Marketing team, meanwhile, keep reps supplied with solid leads, analytics on existing customers’ historical patterns, and data from social media outreach efforts; this information forms the foundation of dozens of closed deals. And Sales professionals themselves follow the best practices of Sales engagement – keeping multiple lines of communication open with prospects.
But there’s only so much that Sales organizations can do to make waves with those techniques if they aren’t approaching and managing them in an organized, unified manner. To do so most effectively, it will be necessary to adopt an agile, comprehensive Sales engagement platform.
What is Sales engagement?
A more precise definition of Sales engagement is “how sellers interact with prospects throughout their journey to becoming buyers.” Phone calls, emails, messages through a preferred social media platform, and other forms of outreach all count as valuable engagement practices. They also count as Sales enablement tools, since they encourage the closing of a deal through good connection-making and marketing of the organization’s bona fides.
There’s a lot more that goes into real, substantive Sales engagement, however.
Analytics are a big part of it.
Through leveraging quality data, Sales reps can determine buying habits, demographic trends, customer experience data, brand viability, the probability of someone becoming a repeat customer rather than a one-off buyer, and much more. Artificial intelligence-powered tools (and, in some cases, a full-fledged machine learning platform) will often be responsible for gathering analytics, segmenting data for more efficient digestion by human readers, or both. Sometimes these are distinct tools; in other instances they’re part of a robust marketing or Sales engagement platform. Employee engagement also plays a role, in the sense that sellers need to be passionate about communicating with prospects to increase their chances of success.
In some cases, organizations are even appointing a specific executive to oversee the complexities of engagement and enablement – usually called a Chief Sales Development Officer. (For anyone concerned about budget: It’s not necessary to do so in the sense of bumping someone up to a C-suite pay grade, but someone in the Sales or Marketing department should have the distinct, dedicated responsibility of managing Sales engagement.)
Benefits and importance of Sales engagement: Finding diamonds in the rough
No matter what product or service your Sales process may be focused on providing to the various members of your target audience, there’s no denying the necessity of due diligence. After all, you don’t know from which direction your next successful Sales prospect will come. This means that you need to look at a reasonably sized number of leads from across a broad gamut of prospect types derived from analytics research.
Surfacing solutions via analytics training
With a database of segmented and scored leads, the data immediately becomes more actionable. It now has purpose and value beyond the various, disparate snippets of customer data that’s been compiled over a given period of time, like contact information, preferred content types, location, job titles, firmographics, and other qualifying factors.
Sure, an analytics specialist could, in theory, wade through this newly useful lead engine and slice up the information further before dispersing and allocating to Sales reps. Or you could have a Sales engagement platform that integrates with external CRM data or other manual inputs, in addition to its own native functions and features. The insights scraped from the analytics could tee up your Sales professionals to pick up the phone or draft an email with the utmost confidence that they will likely receive a positive response. Some of those insights might include items like:
- Behavioral patterns and trends: historical touchpoints and conversations with prospects throughout the Sales pipeline process – and how they’ve developed over time.
- Level of buyer interest: progress reports or categorizations on whether interest levels have evolved, aka if leads are warming up or growing cold.
- Content performance metrics: engagement and conversion data that sheds light on what types of messaging and brand outreach are hitting the mark – and what’ types are not.
- Sales opportunities: benchmarking and milestone-tracking at key stages of the funnel and prospecting Sales process.
- Sales rep performance metrics and success rates: chart the work of top sellers so it can be replicated across the rest of the team, either through advanced training on outreach tactics, customer experience personalization, nurturing, or Sales development, among other disciplines.
Sales professionals at every level of the company should be trained on how to access, interpret, and report on these analytics, too, either in an internal-facing capacity or to help inform customer-facing conversations. Platforms with Sales coaching and analytics training modules make this process seamless and intuitive.
Tying Sales engagement to lead quality and marketing alignment
While the pursuit of analytics nirvana is a dream of every company, it’s still possible to suffer from analysis paralysis: to be frozen stiff and overcome with so much data that its sheer enormity and pervasiveness makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Sometimes complex issues can be solved by simple answers lying right in front of us
For example, your Sales cycle will become bogged down and immensely inefficient if you don’t use discretion about the leads you examine (or have a platform that serves this function in some way). The lead generation section of your firm’s marketing department is the division that must leave no stone unturned through the review of raw analytics, cold calling, and other forms of outreach.
Their efforts represent a form of enablement that allows sellers to be more discriminating. Any confusion, misalignment, or stubbornness that occurs on the lead gen side will be felt by the Sales development team.. This could be in the form of poorly qualified lead data, inaccurate categorizations or labeling with CRMs, or general disorganization of what should otherwise be clean, actionable work streams across departments.
Sales engagement platforms with AI and ML capabilities can reduce the likelihood of these occurrences, facilitate the running of periodic audits, allow for 360-degree cross-team visibility, and automate Sales processes for greater efficiency.
Quantitative and qualitative lead discretion
Although lead scoring technology advances daily, the inevitable ability to make a judgement call still exists. As Marketing and lead generation teams need to remove the duds as they turn prospects into allocated, met meetings. This can happen either through manual entry or automated sales enablement tools.
For any chance at the enablement of fruitful sales, though, it will be necessary for reps to put out some communicative feelers not only to the prospects that look like sure things, but also to those identified by analytics reporting as in-between leads. This is, in effect, more of a qualitative Sales enablement strategy, one that fuses software tools with direct human involvement. To some degree, injecting a touch of practical subjectivity into the objectivity of cold, hard data.
In-between leads are people interested in your brand who aren’t quite ready to buy, as well as those who’ve committed to a single purchase but haven’t yet taken further action because they haven’t been asked the right qualifying question. They could potentially be wowed by new, effective customer experience events or a clever, interactive marketing outreach. Just a small nudge to organically get them further into a more definite Sales ordering process. Or maybe they just need a bit more time. Either way, a skilled Sales development representative will have the Sales intelligence and sharpness to strike at the proper time.
Further, these intermediary leads highlight the breakdown of micro and macro conversions (and what they say about buyer intent). Making a value judgement on whether it’s worth devoting more resources to these in-betweeners requires a deft, discerning Sales professional, with the aid of a Sales engagement platform. Consider the nuance that separates micro and macro conversions:
- Micro: smaller, less-commercially driven actions a potential buyer takes, like:
- Downloading a content marketing asset to learn more about your company and its products.
- Signing up for a newsletter or attending a webinar.
- Perusing and engaging with free online content.
- Following a brand and its social media accounts.
These types of leads are just testing the waters of what customer experience could look like, if they were to become paying customers.
- Macro: actions more closely tied to potential revenue, including:
- Requesting to speak with Sales development reps.
- Watching or requesting a product or service demo.
- Meeting in person or booking a meeting.
- Using online shopping carts.
Macro leads are further into the Sales funnel and are close to the goal line. A powerful Sales enablement video or some form of conclusive, Sales enablement content could do the trick.
If a salesperson can read between the lines based on what actions prospects are taking, they can better manage their own time and target leads that are already on the road toward becoming buyers.
The importance of good qualifying questions cannot be understated. If you come to leads that were once hot and have gone cold, targeting them by appropriately identifying their needs and marketing your product or service as an unavoidable problem-solver may be able to turn their hesitation (or downright reluctance) into an eager purchase. Conversely, when already in talks with warm leads, knowing the full history of previous conversations keeps the engagement moving forward so that too much time isn’t spent on rehashing intent.
Using the best tools and resources for Sales engagement
The essential practices of Sales engagement are a lot to digest and appropriately manage if you’re not using the right tools to keep them all streamlined. Not only that, but Sales development reps will also likely end up wasting a fair share of their time and effort chasing leads ultimately not worth their time, which in turn almost definitely means missing some fairly good leads that just needed a bit more work than the “gimme” prospects.
For the sake of your organization’s bottom line, wasting all of that time isn’t an option. This is exactly why you need a strong Sales engagement platform like Showpad. Using the multifaceted software, the Sales professionals in your department will be empowered in a number of critical ways:
Strong interdepartmental communication
As we’ve discussed, Sales reps depend greatly on the efforts of their colleagues in Marketing to supply a steady stream of intriguing prospects through analytics, cold calling, and other lead generation practices. Using Showpad, synced-up Marketing and Sales associates can easily share content via email and across many other channels right from the platform.
How can you tell when a particular channel loses its effectiveness? A strong Sales engagement platform should leverage up-to-the-minute analytics to determine when email is working and social media isn’t, or vice versa, and Showpad does exactly that. Sales engagement strategies and cross-department collaboration also facilitate channel enablement tools: those plugins, integrations, extensions, and channel-specific processes that often live in silos are typically applicable to a smaller subset of the staff. But they don’t have to be.
With Showpad, Sales enablement challenges – regardless of where they occur or under whose jurisdiction they fall – can be identified, investigated, and troubleshooted with the aid of the software and respective stakeholders from the teams in question.
De facto Sales playbook
Almost half of all Sales organizations don’t have a defined playbook. Showpad’s comprehensive Sales engagement platform can serve as a reliable clearinghouse for all of the on-brand content your team, the Marketing department, and account management relies upon to attract new leads and close deals. It effectively represents a unified sales playbook.
So instead of having disparate staff working on parallel business goals, you can instead allow the software to help cross-train employees to become not just analytics specialists, or account executives, or sales professionals. They can instead each be a universally functional, Sales enablement consultant, capable of hopping into the Marketing branch of operations and problem-solving, while simultaneously coaching peers across the company.
A sweeping, ultimate playbook speaks one language, serves one common objective, and effectively cross-pollinates ideas, people, and processes with frictionless ease.
Centralized analytics management
We’ve established how urgent the need for reliable analytics is in the Sales engagement process. Cutting-edge AI drives Showpad’s contributions to content creation and distribution, Sales coaching and training, customer engagement, closed revenue reporting, and so much more.
Sales enablement content, backed by analytics intelligence, is so incredibly versatile – and its performance so measurable – that establishing a system for disseminating it internally is paramount. The more hands you can get on your content within the walls of your company, the faster that same content reaches new, potentially unexpected audiences. While traditional social media posts, email newsletters, or other channel-specific marketing is likely already in motion at your company, explore every possible avenue for distribution and amplification. Allow Sales reps to deliver content. Empower the operations and tech support teams to deliver content, like self-help tutorials and FAQs. And so forth.
Every employee is a brand ambassador if put to the task.
Sales is about forging connections, and Showpad helps reps and prospects get on the same page by offering content relevant to their needs and interests. Advanced tools such as augmented reality help solidify these seller-buyer bonds.
And as the customer experience expectation rises exponentially, thanks to the Amazon effect, the hottest technological frontier in the digital space is personalization. The best Sales enablement technology leads with AI-driven content and brand outreach recommendations for Sales organizations to deploy at a moment’s notice. Surfacing the right piece of content at your company – the one that could seal the deal for those macro leads mentioned above – is automatic with Showpad, as personalized content discovered, made contextually relevant, and presented to high-intent leads with minimal button-pushing.
Those attributes are just the tip of the Showpad iceberg. Contact us today to learn more or request a free demo!