Sales Engagement Fundamentals: Three Steps to Get Started

Everything you need to know about sales engagement, how it can help your sales team, and how to get started.

“Sales engagement” has become one of those terms that many people have heard, and even used, but have difficulty defining. It’s sort of like “synergy;” we get the concept, but, if we’re honest, many of us might have to Google it before sitting down with an exec and saying, “here’s the scoop.”

So whether your company has a sales engagement platform already, or you’re new to the idea, we’re going to help you become the most confident person in the room, the next time “sales engagement” comes up. (Sorry, you’re on your own with synergy).

What is Sales Engagement?

Sales engagement is the ongoing conversation–even if it’s one way–between a buyer and seller. It’s the interactions, or engagements, your sales team has with their prospects.

It’s a new term for an old concept; sales teams have been creating sales plays, like sending emails and then following up with calls, for decades. Seasoned salespeople will tell you they’ve got their processes locked down, tracking each step and creating a system to remind themselves when the next call or drop-in is due.

This begs the question: if this is a natural part of sales, what’s the big deal? 

Sales engagement is a hot topic because of technological innovations which have taken the best possible sales processes and workflows and magnified their potential beyond what any sales team could ever have imagined.

What is a Sales Engagement Platform?

This brings us to the rise of the sales engagement platform. In the beginning, sales engagement platforms sent automated emails at scheduled intervals, so prospects could “set it and forget it” with a high number of outbound messages. (Imagine a fancy mailmerge platform that sends more than one email, scheduled at intervals of your choosing).

Since those early days, sales engagement platforms have grown into a tool as necessary as a CRM (customer relationship management system) for modern sales teams, centralizing, measuring, planning, and sending all revenue-generating communications for entire companies. 

Today’s sales engagement platforms empower sales teams to:

  • build optimal sales plays (usually called sequences or cadences),
  • choose which emails should be personalized,
  • flavor more “general” emails with value propositions tailored toward personas, industries, or other audience segments,
  • schedule phone call tasks with built-in scripts,
  • look at each step’s performance to make informed pivots and scale what works, and
  • schedule tasks to interact on LinkedIn, send a video, drop a note in the mail, or send some swag.

Beyond the functionality for reps, sales engagement platforms also:

  • integrate with many other tools, such as CRMs,
  • curate sophisticated content libraries, and
  • offer managers an unprecedented level of visibility, displaying both rep activity and results.

Taken together, these functions save countless hours of “ramp time,” meaning the time it takes to onboard and train someone, allow reps to decide when to invest in personalized interactions, and scale winning plays and messages to book more meetings and close more deals.

How sales engagement can help your team

A sales team without a sales engagement platform (SEP) is sort of like a retail shop without an online store. If all of your competitors are leveraging technology, it can be costly to sit it out. 

Here are some of the ways leading companies, of all sizes and stages of development, are benefiting from using sales engagement platforms:

  • Connecting purposefully with more prospects
  • Developing sales plays to enable entire teams
  • Centralizing sales content and message testing
  • Integrating marketing assets with a “sales voice”
  • Attributing revenue to the correct reps, messages, and sales plays

These capabilities have led to results like these:

  • One to two hours of more selling time each day
  • 30% more meetings
  • 30% more opportunities
  • 10-25% more revenue

Where do we start?

No matter where you are in your sales engagement strategic planning, the following three steps will either build or strengthen the foundations of your sales engagement strategy.

If you’re just getting started, then you have the exciting opportunity to do it right. If you’ve been at this a while, then this is a chance to refresh your memory on the fundamentals that lead to rep adoption, tool maximization, and the highest possible return on your investment.

1. Gather the right voices

The first step is to gather the right voices. We have worked with many teams who are not on the same page about their messaging, strategy, and priorities. The result is an endless (and costly) tug of war between marketing and sales.

Because both sales and marketing teams often share responsibility for revenue generation, aligning those strategies and incentives makes it possible for each to play to their strengths, centralize measurement to better understand attribution, encourage collaboration on messaging, and remove unnecessary competition between people who should be working toward a shared goal: selling more products and services.

Instead, however, organizations often see a hiccup, following a massive investment into a sales engagement platform and launch campaign, because reps quickly return to their old sales motions.

From the very beginning, the most successful teams involve sales reps and managers in conversations ranging from technical requirements to content creation. If you don’t, then you may be wasting a significant amount of time, resources, and energy on a project that will quickly stall. (Hint: “If we build it, they will come” will not work here).

With these cautionary examples in mind, you can build a cross-functional project team that is capable of working through the following steps with the highest possible potential for success. (Don’t be discouraged, if you’re already knee-deep into this thing and haven’t invited these voices to the table. There’s still plenty of time to add chairs!)

And if you’re not sure what that team should look like, our experts can work with you to leverage your existing talent, identify gaps, streamline processes, and maximize collaboration. Together, we’ll create the ideal sales engagement shop for your organization and context.

2. Set up your SEP and integrate it with other tools

New players are entering the sales engagement space, and there are more options than ever. If you’re not sure where to start, then here’s a helpful, independent guide to leading Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) from G2

Once you’ve made your decision and purchase, your next step is to integrate your SEP  with the rest of your tech stack. Many platforms have integrations with leading CRMs, dialers, video messaging solutions, swag or gifting services, social networks, intent data providers, data providers, and more. 

Going through the process of connecting your SEP to other tools is often the best way to make sure that both data and processes are flowing across your revenue org. Taking enough time here ensures that your infrastructure is ready to receive a lot of activity when you flip it “on.” Speeding through here is sort of like neglecting to plug holes in your bathtub before you turn on the faucet.

If your team needs support, we can help:

  • “unbox” and set up your SEP,
  • migrate your data and connect it to the rest of your tech stack,
  • design and build automations,
  • clean up messy systems,
  • establish ongoing maintenance schedules and best practices,
  • troubleshoot errors, and
  • embed on your team as a long-term systems admin. 

Whether you have the resources and experience to do this work internally, or you consult an agency like Greaser Consulting, we recommend that you invest the time and resources needed here to build a sustainable technical foundation that will support your sales team’s growth and strategy.

3. Build a sales enablement infrastructure

Lastly, your team’s long-term success depends upon a strong sales enablement strategy, which means a plan for continuously training and encouraging your team to use your sales engagement platform and the content and strategies which support it.

Our founder, Jordan Greaser, was a teacher before he got into tech. He also helped to build Outreach’s first training program. These experiences have taught him that a one-time training, followed by a free for all, may lead to some initial gains, but it won’t deliver the continuous use and learning that leads to real results.

Strong sales enablement includes ongoing input from reps; frequent training, updates about new sales plays, content, features, or settings; manager education to ensure leadership is encouraging rep adoption and making the most of reporting dashboards; and proper documentation so best practices are easily discoverable.

Our team offers enablement services for the content, strategy, and technical aspects of your sales engagement journey. If you’re struggling with adoption or hoping to start with a strong launch, we can help you build the infrastructure your team needs to succeed.

Your next steps

Ultimately, each team has a unique sales engagement journey. Regardless of how far along you are in adopting and making the most of what sales engagement has to offer, your next steps are simple.

  1. Take stock of where you are today.
  2. Establish who is working with you to ensure that your company gets the most out of your investment (add chairs, as needed).
  3. Decide which of the above steps is of the highest priority within your organization.

For help getting there, subscribe to our email list for thought leadership and tips or reach out to schedule a free strategy call. As your Houston for sales engagement, we are here to be your guides, every step of the way.

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Erika Davis

Erika is a communication strategist who helps individuals and organizations articulate their message and connect with their ideal customers. Before working as an SDR and an AE, she taught communication in five countries and now applies these experiences to her work with clients at Greaser Consulting. When she's not writing your next email sequence, you can find her surfing off the coast of Washington or searching for the best cup of coffee in Seattle.