4 Lessons for Better Sales Engagement in 2019

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Best Sales Engagement Lessons from 2018

Depending on where you live and your political bent, maybe you want to forget 2018 ever happened. Sure, some stuff wasn’t that great, but let’s focus on the positive, professional lessons we learned that we could apply to 2019 for even more sales success.

Here are some of the top tips and treasures we uncovered last year. Some of these ideas are small, incremental steps to build up to total awesomeness. Others are big ideas that you need to embrace for better results.

1. Make Learning a Priority and a Process of Engagement

sales training and learningWe kicked off a new podcast in 2018: INSIDE Inside Sales. My first guest was Lori Richardson of Score More Sales. I’m not going to share all the tips that Lori shared here. (Listen to the interview!) However, I do want to highlight an essential point from that episode.

Lori says the number one mistake that many new SDRs make is that they say, “just tell me what to do.” No deep learning occurs with “just tell me what to do.” Your job doesn’t end with a checklist of steps. You must engage yourself with and beyond the process.

Lori goes on to share, “. . . I think the problem with [just tell me what to do] is that you know, learning is a process, and you can’t just say, ‘boom, do exactly these things and you’ll be great.’ [Managers] can definitely give guidance, we can give playbooks, you know, we can give instruction, but there’s a certain amount of learning that just happens as you go along, and I think patience is what’s really important.

Catch the full podcast below, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Blubrry.

2. Learn the Difference Between Marketing, Prospecting, Selling, and Order Taking

Last year I discovered that there is a lot of confusion out there among sales professionals when it comes to the difference between marketing, prospecting, and selling. We can thank the “social selling” phenomenon for a lot of that confusion.

Here are the definitions to keep in mind for your marketing and sales process.

marketing activitiesMarketing activities aim to reach a defined audience of your target customers. When you post updates on social media, write a blog post (even one that includes dynamic content to “personalize” it for a known reader), send a bulk email — those are marketing activities. You are speaking with a group of people to try to persuade them to take action. So even so-called “social selling” is a form of marketing if you consider social media updates as part of your social selling tactics.
prospecting activitiesProspecting activities include those actions you take to connect with an individual prospect whom you don’t yet know is a qualified lead. Engaging with an individual on LinkedIn, making a cold call, sending a cold email — these things are prospecting activities. When a sales rep reaches out to a prospect, he or she is attempting to determine whether or not that prospect has a problem that the rep can solve. The rep is trying to qualify the prospect and set an appointment for a meeting or a demonstration: not make a sale.
sales activitiesSales activities occur when you are actively working with a qualified lead to persuade them to purchase your product or service. You are engaging in some form of give-and-take with the individual to arrive at a point where both parties recognize the value of working together.
order fulfillmentOrder taking happens when your marketing was so persuasive that the person makes an order on your website or places one over the phone. Nobody had to do any negotiating or convincing. The person already decided to buy before he or she ever talked to a sales rep. Just because you happened to pick up the phone to take a lot of orders, it doesn’t mean you are a high-performing salesperson. It indicates that either you are good at social and should consider joining the marketing team, or you’re a lucky person who just happens to pick up all the inbound orders.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Why does this matter if I’m getting results with the status quo?” Let me ask this in response: what if you could blow your quota out of the water by differentiating your activities and focusing more time on actual selling?

We’ve had several great conversations about the nature of sales and sales engagement (vs. marketing, prospect, order taking). Take a few minutes to check out some of the experts who shared their perspectives with us in 2018:

Prospecting vs. Selling: Are You the Master of Either with Benjamin Dennehy

Social Selling vs. Cold Calling with Dan Disney
Social Selling vs. Cold Calling Watch Now!

3. Change Your Mindset about Selling

sales engagement mindsetPeople who have never sold anything to make a living typically have a negative idea of what it means to be a sales rep. They think of salespeople as untrustworthy and pushy. Guess what? Some salespeople hold those same beliefs!

Last year, Carole Mahoney of Unbound Growth joined me on episode 8 of INSIDE Inside Sales to talk about flipping your perspective of what it means to be a sales professional. She shared her personal story about starting a marketing agency and her desire to avoid selling.

“. . . when I opened my marketing agency, I was convinced that I could do such awesome marketing, that I would make those icky, pushy, aggressive salespeople completely obsolete. . . . What I found is that, even in today’s information age, we still need salespeople to connect problems to solutions, and that we can’t just take marketing leads to the bank. . . . And what I found in my marketing agency . . . is that it was my perception of sales that also inhibited the growth in my business . . . .”

Carole went on to talk about how even people who do want to sell sometimes undermine their own success because they focus on their end goal instead of the prospect’s goal. To have effective sales conversations, you have to change your mindset from being singularly focused on “crushing quota” to “helping people solve problems” (which in turn, helps you crush your quota!).

4. Make Sales & Marketing Technology Work for You

As a company that offers a sales engagement platform, I have to, of course, mention technology.

  • sales engagement platformEnsure your marketing team has a marketing automation platform that helps them deliver personalized content experiences, capture leads, track website visitors, and track important data about what’s driving marketing qualified leads to your site.
  • Give your sales organization access to sales enablement and sales engagement solutions that help minimize friction in the sales cycle and improve the quality and quantity of your sales team’s outreach.
  • Consider CRM as your centralized source for information about customer engagement — orders, projects, history, etc.

You may find the following sessions interesting when it comes to how sales technology can help your company.

What Did You Learn in 2018 to Make 2019 Even Better?

Whether you’re a sales manager or a new sales development rep, chances are you picked up on something last year that will take you to new heights in 2019. Please don’t keep it to yourself! Share what you’re going to do to make 2019 your best sales year yet. Comment below.


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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