In the past few decades, the ways in which people digest information have fundamentally changed and, in turn, this has meant that the best practices when it comes to getting the attention of potential customers has also changed. The same tactics that were used in the past to convert leads might not necessarily have the same impact as they once did. In some ways, the simple process of selling has actually become harder than it was before but in other ways, it has also become more lucrative.
Many experts agree that the best way to convert leads is to focus on customer engagement, but what exactly is it? How do you enhance it? Are there any tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the most out of it? We’ve got you covered with this complete guide to how to create the perfect sales engagement strategy.
- What is Sales Engagement?
- Types of Sales Engagement
- Building an Effective Sales Engagement Strategy
- Top Strategies to Build Perfect Sales Engagement
- Choosing the Right Sales Engagement Software to Support Your Strategy
What is Sales Engagement?
To put it simply, sales engagement is any interaction that you or your sales team have with leads throughout the sales process. Effective sales engagement is a combination of good sales strategies, great timing and the ability to understand how to exploit the best possible method of communication.
It’s important to remember that sales engagement begins the second a potential customer communicates with a business or brand. It literally begins with their very first interaction and it only ends when the customer ceases their business relationship with you and your company. Every step of the sales process is an opportunity to strengthen the engagement you have with existing and potential customers and successful salespeople know exactly how to capitalise on this.
Types of Sales Engagement
There are many different ways in which a salesperson can engage with leads to convert them, keep them, or upsell them depending on the product or service that they are interested in. Check them out in the list below.
This is possibly one of the most common forms of sales engagement. Almost everyone has an email list they have subscribed to at some point. This is an easy place to let potential or existing leads know about deals, specials or even important information that can benefit them. Emails are generally seen as unobtrusive because they sit in an inbox waiting to be read at the leisure of the recipient.
Booking & Hosting Meetings
As far as engagement goes, this could be seen as the ‘bread and butter’ of sales engagement. This is the point in the sales process where the initial sales pitch can be made, questions can be answered and concerns can be addressed. In the modern world this is also an opportunity for salespeople to enhance their pitch over the phone with screen sharing software.
This is the important moment when a customer can see real-life examples of how a product or service works. It’s a great time for salespeople to show exactly what to expect. This is where things can go from being simply an idea, to being a tangible thing that a customer simply cannot live without.
Calls & Voicemails
Calls and voicemails have been a sales staple for as long as phones have existed but just because they have been around a long time doesn’t mean they should be forgotten in the engagement process. Although experts agree that warm calling yields better results than cold calling, utilising phone calls is still an effective tool in any sales engagement strategy.
Social media hasn’t been around for as long as the others so this element of engaging customers is almost like the new kid on the block but what it lacks in age, it makes up for with the possibility of a very extensive reach. The power of social media can literally transform a sales engagement strategy; taking it from an ‘ok’ source of potential leads, to the lifeblood of an entire business.
Building an Effective Sales Engagement Strategy
Understanding the kinds of engagement that can lead to great sales figures is important but it’s also beneficial to be able to formulate them into an effective sales engagement strategy. Below are a few things to take into account when you are looking to increase your customer engagement level across the board.
An Optimised Process For Managing Inbound and Outbound Communications
A fundamental element of an effective sales engagement strategy is understanding that inbound and outbound messages generally operate differently from each other and they should both be uniquely adapted to meet the needs of your specific leads.
For example, the very first contact a lead has with your business is very likely going to be via something on your company website. Perhaps they filled out an online form, scheduled an appointment or had a conversation with a chatbot. This inbound communication is usually about making sure the lead feels that you are available to them and will be able to answer any questions or present proposals in a swift timeframe
On the other hand, outbound communication is much different. This element of the sales process is usually more about trying to develop interest in having a more involved conversation. Generally outbound communication requires more attention in the early stages in order to effectively land a sale. Some studies have shown that it can take, on average, 8 attempts at contact with an outbound lead before landing an initial meeting. This means that it can take 8 different attempts at getting a lead’s attention before you can even make your sales pitch.
It is essential to make sure your sales engagement has different strategies for inbound and outbound communication.
Leveraging Communication Channels Relevant to Your Customers
There are almost as many different communication channels as there are potential customers to any business but it’s not in your best interest to throw an equal amount of energy at each one.
A good practice is to focus on utilising communication channels that are actually relevant to your desired customer base. Take the time to think about the demographics of the leads you are trying to target and how they like to communicate. Investigating this element of the communication process could surprise you. Perhaps your ideal customers prefer to communicate via email. They might be social media aficionados who only want Instagram DMs, maybe they want a phone call, or perhaps they would prefer facetime.
The main point here is to take the time to learn about how your leads enjoy communicating and try to accommodate that.
Timing Your Communication
The timing of a piece of communication can also play a key role in the efficacy of a sales engagement process. You might have the method of communication down perfectly, but if the timing of your message is off, it might not actually benefit your sales funnel.
For example, many potential leads fill out forms through a business’ website. From the information gathered, you might determine that a particular lead would prefer to receive a phone call to discuss things further, however, in some situations, it might take a few days before a salesperson actually calls them. In that short space of time, the lead has most likely found another solution, and it probably wasn’t you.
To capitalize on your communication strategies, it’s necessary to find ways to hasten the reaction times of a sales team. It’s also a good idea to take note of the times of day, week and month that prospects tend to show interest in your products or services. Taking all of this into account will better arm you for sales success.
Applying Relevant Time-Saving Software
Good sales engagement combines manual and automated processes to strengthen the outreach of a sales team. Because of this, it’s important to utilise software and programs that help your team to work smarter, not necessarily harder. The aim should be to achieve the best possible sales outreach, in the smallest amount of time.
Any form of software that helps to streamline processes, elevate the impact of a sales pitch and, most importantly, free up time so that salespeople can actually sell, is worth investing in.
Using Real-Time Analytics
Analytics and data are the lifeblood of a good sales ecosystem. Effective data can help to establish what is working, and more importantly, what isn’t working about your sales engagement.
When looking at the numbers, metrics like the average email response rate, call length, conversion rates and general satisfaction of all leads can enable you to zero in on areas that need attention as well as help you further strengthen your strong points.
Initiate Processes to Adjust the Sales Process
When you have reliable analytics that can assist in the improvement of a sales engagement strategy, it’s integral to create systems where you can experiment with and trial new ideas based on this data.
If you work in a team, this can be a collaborative process. It can be eye-opening to go over the data with all salespeople and openly discuss what is working and what is not. From these discussions, the next step should be to initiate adjustments to help improve strategies and revisit them regularly.
Top Strategies to Build Perfect Sales Engagement
Perfection is often seen as unattainable, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to strive to reach it. Understanding how to improve your sales engagement is one thing, strategising to head towards perfect sales engagement is the best way to ensure you get the competitive edge in the market. Take a look at the tips to help you get there below.
Automate Your Sales Processes
Automation can dramatically increase sales productivity and it’s never been easier or cheaper to automate some or all of the sales process. Automation helps sales representatives to easily track the progress of their leads while also highlighting areas that need attention. The bottom line though is that automation takes a salesperson’s focus away from things like administration and lets them dedicate it towards the skills they have which turn profit. Implementing automation can positively shift a sales funnel and make it even more productive than you thought possible.
Maintain Strong Customer Relations
Every single interaction a salesperson has with customers is an opportunity to increase profit. Maintaining strong relationships with existing and potential customers should be very high on the list of priorities in every sales team. The main takeaway here is that the customers are the most important element of any business, so any innovations that are implemented should assist in improving the relationships salespeople have with them. A good rule of thumb is to simply ask the question, ‘how does this help salespeople strengthen customer relations?’
Identify & Track Sales Leads
Not every lead has the same value and great sales businesses figure out how to prioritise and filter them in order to increase conversion rates, receive higher commissions and gain better profit margins.
The easiest way to do this is to find a method to assess the potential value and relevance of a lead as well as getting an idea of their ‘warmth.’ This kind of information will always result in the focus of salespeople being given to the leads that will result in the quickest and most profitable transactions.
Create Custom Sales Proposals
Taking the time to set up email templates that allow for customisation when making sales proposals can have a significant impact on the engagement level you have with potential customers. Not only does it save time, it increases the trust a lead has in a salesperson.
When a customer receives a proposal that was clearly created specifically for them and doesn’t seem like it’s a generic email, they are more likely to trust the salesperson who sent it.
Manage Customer Contact Information Effectively
An effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is worth its weight in gold. The ability to find relevant customer details and see where their sales journey is, at a glance can make a huge difference to your sales funnel. This can also eliminate confusion if more than one salesperson is dealing with a potential or existing customer.
Leverage Social Media to Reach Out to Customers
There are very few potential customers who don’t have some sort of social media presence. Almost everyone has a Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok account and using these platforms to connect with potential leads is a great way to gain some extra potential sales traffic. Utilising social media can also help to set up your brand identity and establish unique selling propositions while also serving as a way to showcase customer success and positive feedback.
Follow-up in a Timely Manner and With Value-Adding Information
Statistically, follow ups do actually generate good sales results but they can sometimes have the negative side-effect of annoying a potential prospect. The main reason for this is that most people already have inboxes filled with emails that they aren’t particularly interested in reading.
The key here is to make sure your timing is spot on. If you tell a lead that you will send them an email highlighting the information from your sales call, you need to make sure it’s sent to them as soon as they hang up the phone (or as close as possible). Responding quickly and with relevant information to that specific lead can bring significant sales wins. Waiting till later can see your email lost in a sea of newsletters people keep forgetting to unsubscribe to.
Prioritise Leads & Opportunities
This heading sounds pretty self-explanatory but there are a few things to take into account when determining the priority of leads. Always remember that there are some leads that are infinitely more likely to result in sales and establishing this early in the sales process is essential. Take the time to assess how warm a lead is and use previous data and experience to consider how much time it will likely take to convert them accordingly.
Always Monitor Analytics & Set KPIs
As stated earlier, analytics are an impressive tool for your sales arsenal that help you to understand the performance of your business and its employees. Thorough data sets can help you to identify sales trends and customer behaviour patterns you wouldn’t normally be aware of and this can be used to direct your focus and drive up sales.
The information obtained from analytics can also assist in the creation and maintenance of effective KPIs for team members to aim towards. Together, these two vital sets of information can ensure that you know the overall position of your sales funnel at all times.
Choosing the Right Sales Engagement Software to Support Your Strategy
There are so many sales engagement software tools available on the market to help support a multitude of sales businesses and strategies that it could be overwhelming to think about which ones are right for you. There are a few things to consider when shopping around that will help you make the best decisions for your specific needs.
Define the Metrics & KPI’s Relevant to You
Analytics and KPIs are important to all sales businesses but the kinds of information that will be beneficial to a sales team is going to be vastly different for every business. Make sure the software you chose offers relevant data for you. In an ideal world, it would be great to find a software package that allows you to customise data sets to make them as relevant as possible. It’s also worth searching for software that can allow you to export data for further analysis in other programs.
Leverage Multi-Channel Tools
Not every customer has the same communication preferences so it makes sense that you should aim to use software that supports multiple channels of communication.
Use Tools That Work For Your Full Team
Every team member is unique, so using software that helps to foster and build their strengths while offering support to their weaknesses will yield impressive results. This is of particular importance to remote working teams.
Use Software to Support Communications Throughout Your Entire Sales Funnel
Whatever software you choose to implement, make sure it supports effective customer engagement and communication for the entire sales process. From the initial enquiry to aftersales, you need to make sure that any software you invest in is consistent in its support across the board.
The way customers engage with businesses and products may have changed significantly but so has technology and the ability to capture and utilise information. It’s an exciting time to work in sales. New innovations are continuing to help sales people and teams to reach their targets, gain better control over their sales funnels and perfect their sales engagement strategy.