Sales Engagement Welcomes the New Era of Buyers
The 2020 pandemic served as an accelerant for shifts in the ways B2B buyers engage with sellers. Buyers need sellers to exceed expectations at every interaction on their preferred—and increasingly digital—channels. Modern revenue leaders recognize that the ethos of buying is transitioning from face-to-face relationship building to facilitating buying decisions virtually. Inside sales is now just sales, and with that comes a tsunami of innovation in the form and scale at which revenue teams create extreme value, share information, deliver insights, orchestrate change, generate data, and manage sellers with technology.
Sales engagement strategy has emerged as a practice to engage buyers and convert those activities into revenue. Sales engagement consists of the various interactions (e.g., digital, virtual, in-person, phone) that sellers have with buyers. Whereas traditional selling is informed by intuition, modern engagement is informed by data. The charter of sales engagement strategy is to simplify the way sellers can dynamically engage buyers in a hybrid world, resulting in experiences that drive revenue. The success of the strategy has been so overwhelmingly positive with pipeline creation use cases that sales engagement has blurred the lines between digital demand generation and prospecting.
The design, orchestration, and execution of sales engagement requires leadership vision and collaboration. Its design requires a holistic view of the different scenarios and triggers that prompt a seller to engage with a buyer, and vice versa. The orchestration of sales engagement requires collaboration across the revenue function: sales, marketing, customer success, enablement, and operations. The execution results in role-specific behaviors activated through technology. Within high-growth companies, leaders and teams have emerged to champion this strategy with innovative titles such as “Revenue Orchestration,” “Growth Enablement,” and naturally, “Sales Engagement.”
A sales engagement strategy consists of 10 components: messaging, content, channels, technology, data, workflow, touch patterns, enablement, metrics, and management. While many of these components of a go-to-market framework are not new, the main innovation of a sales engagement strategy is in the deliberate effort to intertwine each component with workflows that never existed before, a heavy dependence on automation for execution, and constant testing for optimization. As a result, sales engagement platforms have emerged as a leading technology to help revenue leaders meet this imperative, and new teams are forming to run it.
FACTORS FOR SALES ENGAGEMENT SUCCESS
The key factors for success with a sales engagement strategy as indicated by sales leaders include automation, personalized messaging, a defined strategy, and an effective sales engagement playbook and process. These results indicate the importance of constant cross-functional collaboration between marketing, sales, operations, and enablement to clearly design and deploy the strategy.
TOP SALES ENGAGEMENT CHALLENGES
The overwhelming top sales engagement challenge is content strategy, followed by partnership with marketing and the existence of an effective sales engagement playbook and process.
REASONS FOR SELECTING CURRENT SALES ENGAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY
The top reasons leaders selected their current sales engagement providers are clear: seller-centric user experiences, integration across existing technology, simplified or new value-added workflows, and automation across those workflows.
TOP SALES ENGAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES
Sales engagement leaders cite their top challenges with the technology as reporting and analytics and in-platform content management. Even a basic sales engagement strategy requires a significant amount of effort and resources to develop the content necessary to fulfill the touch patterns that comprise a sales engagement strategy, while reporting and analytics shortfalls are primarily rooted in performance attribution.
Sales engagement strategy—powered by sales engagement platforms—is changing the way revenue teams think about creating experiences that exceed buyers’ expectations. We see it in increased revenue efficiency, predictable pipeline, and shortened ramp times for new sellers. Sales engagement technology is going to continue innovating; vendors in this market are already investing in capabilities such as conversation intelligence, opportunity management, and deal management. Artificial intelligence and machine learning models are increasingly automating more human processes, making recommendations, and executing specific activities.
Innovation in sales engagement strategy will also continue re-shaping sales support resources. We see it in the rise and growth of account based sales and the orchestration of activities directed at three different groups across five different channels in pursuit of getting a single meeting. We see it in the organizational design investments to combine demand generation and sales enablement into a cohesive, singular team. We see it in the way managers are increasingly using new metrics to manage performance and coach their teams.
With the market dynamics continuing to evolve, combined with the success that organizations have already seen, sales engagement strategy is one of the key trends for sales teams in 2021.