What is sales engagement?
Successful sales strategies are constantly evolving in our ever-changing world. Whereas once it was about the product and the brand, now it’s increasingly about the experience. Sales engagement is an important, if not critical part of the sales process where customers will either turn off, or tune in to what you are communicating. Are you up to speed with sales engagement and the benefits it can drive? Read on to learn more.
For any financial services business, driving revenue is critical to its survival. However, challenges from changing customer preferences, the pandemic, new market entrants, and rising costs of regulatory adherence have meant that even more pressure is now being placed on the sales side of organisations.
In order to overcome these challenges, the ways in which sales are conducted need to be revolutionised. Leveraging new technologies and increasing digital engagement can be the key differentiator in winning client business, let alone their attention in an increasingly homogenised and competitive environment.
The definition of sales engagement
Sales engagement can mean different things depending on who you ask and where you look, but it really comes down to one specific part of the sales process:
the touchpoint between the organisation and the customer, be it prospect or client. This touchpoint is vitally important, because it can determine the success of the salesperson’s relationship, and thus on the organisation’s overall financial well-being. Just as importantly, sales engagement executed poorly can be to the detriment of clients and thus again, the financial well-being of the organisation.
There are five components to sales engagement success:
- What range of sales materials there are about a company/product/solution/service/theme that can be communicated to a customer?
- How relevant is the sales topic to the customer?
- How is the salesperson going to communicate it?
- When is the salesperson going to communicate it?
- Can the salesperson understand the customer’s feedback from opening the communication?
The sales efficient frontier
When each component is optimised, the organisation can reach the Sales Efficient Frontier. That’s the point where the sales machine is firing on all cylinders. Sadly, most organisations are typically very far away from that optimised sales point. They may be strong in one dimension and weak in another, or possibly weak across the board.
What are the benefits of sales engagement?
Sales are the lifeblood of every business. As we all know, achieving sales sustainably can be difficult, as many may only generate one-time sales, which contributes to sales volatility and unsustainable revenue. These sorts of transactional sales can also damage client relationships, especially in wealth management. “Product pushing” is sadly an all too common practice where no personalisation is applied to how sales are pushed out, the result being sales to unsuitable clients, loss of trust and most often a disengagement between organisation and client.
Across the sales cycle, sales engagement can drive important benefits.
- In the prospecting phase, sales conversion rates will be increased and sales cycles will be shortened by communicating more engaging information about the salesperson, their organisation and services.
- In the relationship building stage, a rapid and unobtrusive capture of profiling information on the client will ensure ongoing optimisation of what is communicated.
- In the long term, to foster trust, longevity and referrals of new business from clients, a bionic approach to sales delivery will ensure clients are not forgotten. The best technology will be used to enable hyper-personalisation to all clients. This is where technology is a key appendage, and ally to the sales person, and makes him/her more productive and effective.
Sales engagement lifecycle
In order to reach stage 3, let alone stage 2, ‘product pushing’ will be ineffective. There is a reason why large banks often have well over 20 per cent of their client accounts dormant. These clients bought once, and turned away.
Engaging clients at every stage is key. And for each stage, there are different sales engagement tools that can be deployed to drive sales and ultimately hit the optimal level of success. The one constant throughout is best-practice, whether delivery is digital or manual, a level of quality of service must be established and maintained. Upskilling, as we call it, is a critical part of a salesperson’s job and responsibility of organisations to deliver.
According to research by McKinsey, companies that excel at personalisation generate 40 per cent more revenue from those activities than average players1. They found that some of the top personalisation actions that first-time consumers expect include expecting to receive relevant product/service recommendations, tailored messaging to their needs, sending of timely communications tied to key moments, and following up post-purchase.
According to research by McKinsey, companies that excel at personalisation generate 40 per cent more revenue from those activities than average players.
What’s the difference between sales engagement and sales enablement?
On the surface they may seem very similar, however dig a little deeper and there are important differences. Sales engagement focuses on the client and how the salesperson can better engage with them to drive stronger client relationships with mutually positive outcomes. Whereas sales enablement is about providing the salesperson with the resources, such as tools and training, to sell more effectively.
Sales enablement and sales engagement are two pieces of the pie that need to work congruently in order for the sales team to achieve maximum success. For example, sales enablement can equip a sales person, but won’t necessarily drive any increased sales, let alone better sales, without sales engagement principles being adopted.
Where does sales engagement fit in our organisation?
It sounds like sales engagement is only helpful for sales teams. It’s not. Its relevance goes far wider and its benefits far deeper.
There are four key players in the sales engagement mix:
- The Recipient – This could be the prospect, client, intermediary, investor, or colleague
- Sales team members – They are the individuals with direct contact with the recipients. Their morale is key. If they’re demoralised and underperforming it has an impact on the entire organisation. According to McKinsey, building up a sales team’s psychological health and capabilities will put them ahead of their competitors2.
- Marketing teams
- Product teams – The individuals who are ‘manufacturing’ what is being communicated to the recipients
- Management – The data they receive helps to determine their decision making process and the ultimate actions they take for the organisation.
The sales engagement mix
Successful businesses need teams in different departments to collaborate efficiently and effectively. Sales engagement brings teams together around the real purpose of business - driving customer relationships, product excellence, and fast-tracking organisations to optimise and improve their sales approaches thanks to the data that is collected.
Sales teams are going to get far greater insights from customer engagement than they would even be able to glean from asking a customer questions and manually building a profile. Not to mention they are going to obtain this information across their whole customer book.
Marketing teams can see the success of product marketing material, content generation and use client personas to personalise their marketing approaches. Not to mention leverage design capability that will WOW recipients and drive more engagement.
Product teams are finally going to attain real customer and sales team feedback with access to deep engagement analytics on their product set. No more asking questions manually to the sales team and wondering why their products are not selling.
Management teams are going to glean genuine sales activity. No more wondering ‘what are my sales people actually doing’ or manual form filling to get the answers.
Sales engagement can also complement other technology a salesperson uses on a daily basis. The sales engagement platform is the tool in between the CRM and the content, marketing automation, and prospecting tools. Combined, these tools provide the salesperson with the data they need to target prospects and manage clients.
What is sales engagement technology?
Sales engagement practices can help close the sales of ideas and proposals faster, as well as convert more clients. However, to build longer-term, trusted relationships, faster and at scale, sales engagement technology is critical to deploy.
According to a Forrester report, over 90 per cent of sales leaders lack confidence in their activity data and that 77 per cent of marketers rate a lack of analytics to guide their marketing decision-making as a top challenge.
Sales engagement technology varies in types, but in our definition it allows sales teams to integrate all of their sales-related information and activities into one platform. The ‘bionic’ salesperson emerges by being able to use technology to improve their sales performance.
The four most important tasks the technology must succeed in are:
- Distribution - the ability to access products, insights and combined ‘stories’ quickly and distribute to customers in an engaging way.
- Omni-channel - the ability to communicate to customers how and when they want will drive significantly enhanced engagement and trust.
- Customer persona building - the ability to learn the preferences of a customer across multiple dimensions such that future communication is well-matched, and delivered at a time and via a channel that the customer prefers.
- Service at scale - now that points one to three are met, the sales team can lean on technology to service more clients with higher quality and more frequent communication. That’s where the true sales gains occur that benefit all stakeholders including the salesperson’s clients.
The roles of sales engagement technology
According to a Forrester report , over 90 per cent of sales leaders lack confidence in their activity data and that 77 per cent of marketers rate a lack of analytics to guide their marketing decision-making as a top challenge.
How can we increase sales engagement?
The recipe for increasing sales engagement contains five key ingredients:
- Sales material
Having high-quality sales material is becoming increasingly important. Content is king and clients today are inundated with content 24/7, often from digital channels where good design is native. Clients, both young and old, are now more receptive to good design and in order to stand out and capture attention, sales teams need access to the best looking sales material they can get their hands on.
Stories bring out emotions in individuals and since 80 per cent of decision-making is emotional and only 20 per cent is logical3, creating a great story for your client is key.
How will the sales person stand out? Sales tools such as training and product catalogues are key, but when it comes to touchpoints with the customer, story-telling is a fundamental philosophy to achieving more and better sales. Clients will remember pitches with stories much better than those without. A study by the London School of Business found that individuals retain 65-70 per cent of information shared through a story, compared to only 5-10 per cent if the information was delivered through statistics4.
However, the practicality of finding or creating the story is a major friction in the sales process. That’s where sales tools are critical to bring the team's sales content, both product and story, much closer to their reach.
There can be as many as 27 buying interactions between a salesperson and their client, according to Forrester Research. How do you make a great story? You personalise it for the recipient. Sales engagement tools provide a salesperson with the ability to do this at scale and the data the salesperson has access to enables them to be more successful.
- Team activation
Sales engagement gains can be achieved wholesale across the business when the entire team is following the best practices. Enablement certainly plays a part in that, but nothing motivates a sales team like success. When sales engagement solutions are adopted and a salesperson feels the benefit through newly converted sales, adoption is guaranteed. The first ingredient we mention above, ‘Sales material’, is a great example of this. We so often hear how sales teams are unable, or even embarrassed, to send sales material to prospects. Fixing this issue will have an immediate impact on client engagement and improve sales.
Sales engagement platforms also help organisations improve their entire process of onboarding new sales team members and keeping them trained. Data and content can be fed to sales people in an easily consumable way that’s efficient and effective. Overall, it can increase the tenure of sales reps by 40-60 per cent within an organisation if the individuals are appropriately trained and supported, according to Sirius Decisions.
Ingredients in the sales engagement recipe
Sales engagement by GoUpscale
GoUpscale has solutions across the engagement mix to help organisations drive more and better sales. From our design studio that enhances your sales material to wow factor, to our sales engagement software that drives, and measures, more engagement with your recipients, we will push your sales effectiveness to your efficient frontier. If you don’t already know us, book in a time here and we can take you on a quick tour.