Sales Engagement: The Intersection of Sales and Science

Sometimes, simple ideas can spark revolutions.

  • What if I can bring and use a phone anywhere I go? (Hello cellphones; goodbye phone booths!)
  • What if my friend can receive my letter as soon as I send it? (Goodbye snail mail; hello email!)
  • What if sales reps can really harness the full potential of the pricy software tools we thought would turn us into sales superstars? (Goodbye missed quotas; hello sales engagement!)

When science and sales meet, sparks fly. Just as cell phones and emails revolutionized the way people live and do business, sales engagement upends the infrastructure inefficiency that prevents even excellent salespeople from performing at peak excellence. By bridging the gap between your system of records (the CRM) and your system of action (your marketing automation tools and sales playbook), sales engagement platforms supercharge rep productivity, accelerates sales flow, and helps drive revenue.

RELATED: What is Sales Engagement?

Sales Engagement: A Billion Dollar Market

Before you say hype, true stories direct from the sales floor and a billion-dollar frenzy over sales engagement platforms (SEP) conclusively shatter the notion that sales engagement is just a trendy buzzword. At this stage, any person who still thinks so belongs to the club that described the original touchscreen-enabled iPhone (2007) as a mere novelty on the path to irrelevance, citing the tight dominance of keypad-heavy market leaders during that period.

To put things in context, sales engagement platforms are the selling world’s version of the cell phone and email when it comes to sheer transformative power. Just as the cell phone and email made it exponentially easier to communicate, sales engagement platforms make it ridiculously easy to reach customers at the right time, with the right messaging, at amazing speed and scale.

When you have that combination, revenue efficiency — the ability to maximize return with the leanest resources possible — becomes inevitable.

RELATED: Outbound Sales Strategies to Grow From $0 to 2.5M ARR in 6 Months

SEPs and the siloed tools of sales

Sales engagement platforms fill the technology gaps between the CRM (which basically functions as a database) and Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPS). Sales engagement platforms are the only technology dedicated to turning SALs and MQLs into Closed Won customers.  Supported by artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and cross-software integrations, sales engagement platforms automate tedious sales communication workflows, thereby giving sales professionals substantially more time for actual selling.

Given the breakneck speed businesses need to run at these days, SEPs are now a business necessity. At a leading technographics company, for example, sales development reps spent up to three to four hours each day sorting, reading, crafting, and sending emails. This set of tasks severely reduced the sales team’s available time for fully engaging potential clients. The company was also in rapid growth mode at the time and needed a highly intuitive tool that enabled new reps to ramp quickly and begin selling.  

A sales engagement platform enabled this business to fulfill the often-elusive goals of rep ramp speed, CAC and seller efficiency. The company automated much of its sales team’s email and dialing workflow, giving reps more time for actual selling. The results were staggering: email reply rate clocked in at 52% while revenue doubled after just two quarters of adopting the sales engagement solution.

The scenario at this company is by no means an outlier. Especially among B2B companies, sales leaders are looking for ways to automate workflows and enable their people to sell more, faster and better. Forrester reported that while only a quarter of B2B organizations currently use sales engagement solutions, more than half (52%) are either interested or already planning to adopt a platform.

When speed and scale come into play

A single sales rep or account manager — however skilled and driven — can only do so much. Notwithstanding the conquer-anything mantra of motivational speakers, reality has a stronger presence on the sales floor. For one thing, there are only 24 hours in a day and only a third of that goes into the average workday of corporate sellers. When tasks mount, precious hours get used up, leaving sellers with far less time to make meaningful, value-yielding conversations with prospects and leads.

In fact, salespeople get so bogged down by multiple tasks that nearly 60% will miss quota this year, according to Salesforce. In other words, a clear majority of salespeople won’t achieve targets even when the best CRMs and marketing automation are already in place. In many cases, a higher number of disparate tools can even slow down the process, erode revenue efficiency, and undermine any effort to scale outcomes.

Clearly, sellers need further help just to make the cut. Meanwhile, sales leaders need an agile and comprehensive solution that can sync all the tools in their technology stack and efficiently scale performance.  

That is where sales engagement platforms come in.

The experience of a New York-based recruiting platform exemplifies how the right SEP can make a world of difference. This firm needed to outperform larger industry players, communicate the right message to the right customer at the right time, and free its sellers from the shackles of time-consuming mundane tasks.

As expected, an agile and cohesive sales engagement solution delivered the goods. Using smart automation, persona-based messaging, and tailored lead nurturing workflows, this company achieved an impressive email open rate of 70%, and enabled its 10 salespeople to produce the equivalent output of a hundred-strong sales team! 

Buyers own the conversation

Technology is not the only factor that radically alters the practice of selling. Consumer behavior has also evolved over time such that the selling dynamic has become more buyer-centric, with the leverage formerly held by sellers as gatekeepers of product and transactional information all but gone.

Today, buyers can browse online for solutions they need and decide for themselves which product in a broad range of choices is the one worth their money. All things assumed equal, user experience becomes the key factor that conclusively sways consumers’ purchasing decisions.

In fact, around 72% of B2B buyers surveyed by Salesforce demand more valuable and personalized engagements from vendors. In this environment, sales-oriented relationships get readily ditched for one where sales professionals function more like trusted advisors instead of stereotypical sellers just on the prowl for a quick deal.

Because buyers have already evolved, sales organizations cannot operate using legacy perspectives and still expect to achieve optimal success. The calculus have changed and so should their playbooks. In a recent Forrester survey, more than 80% of sales leaders reported that their organizations and processes have evolved to better meet buyer expectations.

Sales engagement platforms fit neatly into this new business reality. That is because SEPs proactively use workflows, tools, and data to complement the buyer journey. Sales engagement software empowers reps to accommodate the modern buyer, meet them at their desired touchpoints, at the time and manner they so wish. Whether through email, call, or social media, SEPs help sellers reach buyers within the most favorable contexts.

Final Takeaways

Sales engagement platforms make it a lot easier for sellers to use their CRM and marketing automation, enabling teams to drive revenue by orchestrating flawless user experiences for their customers.

Powered by machine learning and data analytics, SEPs seamlessly link an organization’s system of records (CRM) and their system of action (playbooks and marketing tools) to streamline the sales process, accelerate engagements, and hike success for both the buyer and the seller.   

Has your sales team reached a performance plateau? With the sales engagement market still in its nascent stage, perhaps you need the new competitive advantage that excites many of the world’s most ambitious brands.

Max Altschuler is currently the VP of Sales Engagement at Outreach. He is as passionate about the sales profession as they come. He created the premier B2B Sales media company for all things sales innovation, Sales Hacker, and ramped them up to over 150,000 monthly visitors before joining Outreach through acquisition. At Outreach, he leads all things marketing, along with the continued evolution of the Sales Hacker community. Max is a highly regarded sales thought-leader published by Forbes, Time, Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Quora. He wrote the book on modern sales called Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building A High Velocity Sales Machine, which was published by Wiley.

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