4 Best Practices For Deploying a Sales Engagement Platform

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CRM platforms and marketing automation software are essential to your organization’s sales and marketing success, but if you only rely on these two applications, you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle.

While a CRM system allows you to collect and analyze customer data and a marketing automation tool helps you reach out to prospects in a one-to-many format to nurture and qualify leads, you still need a way for sales reps to engage with qualified prospects at the right place with the right message at the right time. After all, traditional CRM technology is really just a database where leads and prospects get placed, and where sales development reps (SDRs) cherry pick which leads they want to call. CRM offers very limited controls over the way leads get worked by SDRs.

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Did you know that new leads contacted within the first hour of submitting an inquiry have a higher conversion rate? Yet, the average first response time of B2B companies to their leads is 42 hours and 23% never respond at all!

sales engagement platform

Why You Need a Sales Engagement Platform

For most organizations, Marketing creates the leads with the help of a Marketing Automation system, and subsequently pass each new lead off to the CRM system for Sales to follow up on them. However, a common lament according to Marketing is that Sales takes too long to follow up on the leads and they become stale. Conversely, when Sales follows up on the lead they quickly learn the lead is dead and they blame Marketing for not qualifying the lead properly. Both sides blame the other. The truth is, both sides are right. The issue is that Marketing didn’t immediately engage with the lead for a live one-on-one qualification, and Sales didn’t run with the lead while they were hot (waiting 42 hours to respond to a new lead is a good example of that). What’s missing is a piece of technology that bridges this gap.

A sales engagement platform allows your sales reps to engage with qualified leads at the right time using content that matches a prospect’s progress in the buyer’s journey.

It helps standardize the sales process through sales cadence automation that ensures multiple touchpoints from the lead to the sale.

In short, a sales engagement system enables reps to engage with prospects faster and more effectively, increasing their productivity and leading to more sales.

sales engagement best practices for implementation

Best Practices For Implementing a Sales Engagement Platform

Just like any software, the effectiveness of a sales engagement platform is only as good as how well it’s implemented. Here are four keys to getting the most out of your investment:

1. Involve All Stakeholders

In this day and age where customer relationships and sales experience can make or break a sale, you need to design a seamless sales experience that incorporates input from each of the business units that interact with customers during their purchasing journey.

In particular, a close partnership between the Sales and Marketing departments is essential to successfully convert more customers.

Sales teams can no longer work in a silo. They need to collaborate closely with other departments to deliver an outstanding customer experience that will lead to conversion.

To set up your sales engagement solution for success, gather input from all stakeholders involved in the marketing, sales, and customer support process to help you design a customer experience that covers all stages of the customer journey and critical touchpoints. We strongly suggest the use of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between departments. This commits each team to a guaranteed response time.

2. Manage Sales Content

Your prospects don’t want a sales pitch. Instead, they want information that will help them solve a problem.

Design your sales content to help customers understand their challenges, educate them on the solution, and help them make the right purchasing decisions.

Work with your Marketing team to create content and templates that make it easy for your SDRs to generate interest and increase engagement throughout the sales cadence workflow.

Incorporate a feedback loop so sales reps can share input with the Marketing team on what content is or isn’t effective for each persona at the various stages of the buyer’s journey. Work with Marketing to provide recommendations, based on context, so your Sales team can determine what to do next regarding what content will drive better results and empower your sales reps to communicate more effectively with prospects.

In addition, set up analytics to track the effectiveness of the content in real-time throughout the entire sales funnel, so your Sales team can expedite their actions in pursuing a lead or prospect.

3. Create a Sales Cadence

The sales cadence workflow in your sales engagement platform should reflect your prospects’ needs and pain points to help you deliver the right message at the right time. Take all engagement methods into consideration – calls, emails, downloads, social media, etc. Each type of interaction your team initiates with prospects should be based on a sales cadence workflow.

Start with an audit of existing sales touchpoints. Are your SDRs connecting with your prospects at the right time, with the right frequency, using the right channel?

According to research done by the Telfer School of Management, salespeople are more likely to close sales if they consistently contact leads with persistency and immediacy.

The sales engagement platform embeds your desired process. To ensure a positive outcome, you must design a repeatable cadence. Once implemented, every new lead added to the system adheres to this process without exception.

Make, on average, 20 call attempts – especially on inbound leads. Don’t give up after one or even five call attempts.

Contact an inbound lead within the first hour. You have a 38% chance of a positive outcome if you contact within the first-hour versus 8% after the first hour. The best time to reach out to a new inbound lead within the first hour is within the first 10-60 minutes.

Have a higher frequency of touchpoints in the first five days of a lead expressing interest.
Incorporate multiple channels (email, phone, SMS, etc.) for contacting leads.

Map out the sales process and make sure you have the right sales cadence workflows in place to get a positive outcome. Identify gaps so you can update workflows to reflect the sales journey and cadence requirements.

4. Set Up Proper Reporting

Most sales engagement systems provide reporting capabilities to monitor individual and team performance, evaluate call activity metrics and identify trends for greater control over the sales process. Unlike traditional CRM, a best-in-class sales engagement platform helps SDRs qualify more leads and move them through the sales funnel more quickly thanks to intelligent workflows and automation.

Set up reporting procedures so Sales Managers can use real-time data to assess sales activity and pinpoint trends related to sales workflows. Real-time data reporting gives Sales Managers the ability to be more proactive and respond immediately when a sales cadence or specific content type isn’t working for the team. The right reporting can also help managers pinpoint when individual SDRs may need more coaching or training.

Standardize the regular use of reporting and metrics on the sales engagement system to help you keep track of your reps’ productivity and ability to hit their goals. The right kind of reporting offers the visibility and accountability you need to manage your sales teams effectively.

sales cadence

Don’t Just “Set It and Forget It”

Sales and Marketing teams have the opportunity to enhance their existing CRM and marketing automation tools by bridging the gap between them with a sales engagement platform. Without a sales engagement solution, all those leads Marketing generated sit in a CRM database waiting for a rep to pick them up for a call. A sales engagement platform increases your team’s “speed to lead” and prevents you from wasting thousands of dollars in marketing spend on leads that go untouched.

Follow these four steps and watch a dramatic increase in lead activity, pipeline, and deal flow all because you’re engaging your leads when, where, and how they want to be engaged.

Darryl Praill

Darryl Praill, Chief Marketing Officer of VanillaSoft, is a high-tech marketing executive with over 25 years’ experience spanning startups, re-starts, consolidations, acquisitions, divestments and IPO’s. He has been widely quoted in the media including television, press, and trade publications. He is a guest lecturer, public speaker, and radio personality and has been featured in numerous podcasts, case studies, and best-selling books.

Praill is a former recipient of the coveted Forty Under 40 Award, and has held senior executive roles in leading companies including Sybase, Cognos (now IBM), webPLAN (now Kinaxis), and CML Emergency Services (now AIRBUS). He has raised over $50 million in venture funding across multiple organizations and consulted with world-class corporations including Salesforce, SAP, and Nielsen. He is a Computer Science graduate from Sheridan College.

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