Sales Engagement Explained: Driving Success in Sales

November 29, 2023

Prospects have high expectations when it comes to sales interactions and the overall buyer experience. Enticing them with a catchy advertisement or the promise of the lowest possible price is no longer enough. They demand meaningful, personalized engagements that address their specific needs and preferences. Thus, successful sales strategies must prioritize the cultivation of lasting relationships over quick, transactional wins.

In this blog post, you'll learn to craft a sales engagement strategy that boosts conversion and brings in a steady pipeline of customers. 

What is Sales Engagement?

Sales engagement refers to the combined interactions with potential customers throughout the sales cycle from initial contact to closing the deal and post-sales support. It involves various channels of communication, such as emails, phone calls, SMS, and video meetings. When done well, it enables the sales team to close deals, generate revenue, and build strong customer relationships.

Here's an example of a sales engagement process from a B2B scenario:

A sales representative, Sarah, finds leads through LinkedIn. She then sends a cold message via email to introduce the company's product. Next, she conducts software demos through video conferencing. Later, Sarah gets on voice calls to address concerns and negotiate terms before successfully closing the deal.

The sales engagement process varies based on the lead generation method. Inbound sales involve attracting potential customers through marketing efforts and then nurturing leads who express interest in a product or service.

Outbound sales, on the other hand, is a proactive procedure where sales representatives reach out to potential customers directly through methods like cold calling, email outreach, or outreach on social channels like LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter). 

Why Is Sales Engagement Important?

Organizations aim to drive higher conversion rates and bigger deal sizes. Here's how sales engagement tactics and tools make this possible:

  • Predictable pipeline: A well-thought-out sales engagement strategy helps you be proactive in your prospect's purchasing journey. It moves leads through the pipeline faster with a higher probability of converting. Thus, you can build and maintain a steady flow of leads for your business.
  • Better customer relationships: When buyers emotionally connect with products and people, it leads to higher retention and brand loyalty. 
  • Improved productivity: The right sales engagement plan includes automating routine tasks and enabling sales professionals to focus their time on the quality of sales activities.  

Sales Engagement vs. Sales Enablement

Sales engagement and sales enablement are different, but they overlap in practice. If you refine one aspect, you'll improve the other by default. Sales engagement is centered around the customer. It involves providing the right experiences and readying them to buy. The success of sales engagement strategies is measured by metrics like overall revenue generated and retention rate. On the other hand, sales enablement is the practice of preparing sales representatives to do their job effectively. It includes the provision of training, the right software, assets & collaterals, and incentives.

Sales Engagement Process

The sales engagement process consists of multiple touchpoints (interactions or points of contact between a salesperson and the prospect) over the course of a buyer’s journey. Here's what a typical sales engagement process looks like:

1. Prospecting

Prospecting involves finding new opportunities to form a strong pipeline of potential customers. It also includes researching prospects to gather information about them before establishing the first touch point. Prospects are more likely to engage with sales professionals who understand their specific needs and challenges. This stage enables you to craft relevant and personalized pitches by understanding more about their specific needs and challenges. You can also filter out your leads list by qualifying them. In an inbound sales process, you will attract leads who have an interest in your product with the help of useful resources or ads. 

2. Discovery and Qualification

You will need to understand the prospect’s needs and determine whether they are a good fit for your product or service. The goal of this stage is to filter out leads by gathering information about the prospect — their business challenges, goals, pain points, and expectations. Sales reps can gauge their willingness to move forward in the sales process and classify leads accordingly.

You can assess the quality of leads based on budget, authority, need, and timeline. Determine how your product can fit into their life as a solution and confirm if there’s a mutual fit. After this stage, sales professionals can tailor their pitches and position their product in a way that resonates with the prospect's specific needs, which will help improve conversion rates. It also ensures that the sales team invests time and resources in pursuing the right opportunities rather than treating every lead equally.

3. Pitching

The rep makes the first move toward the prospect. It sets the tone for all future interactions, making it a crucial part of sales engagement. 

In outbound sales, the pitch is often more of an introduction to generate interest. On the other hand, the pitch in inbound sales comes after the prospect has already shown interest by engaging with your content or reaching out. They are more receptive since they've taken the initial step towards learning about your product. Let customers know how you help them overcome challenges they face and how you differ from competitors. Keep this first pitch short and relatable. Use the information you collected during prospecting to craft a personalized outreach. 

There are many ways of pitching including email, phone calls, and social media messages. Experiment with different approaches to discover what resonates best with your target audience. The key is to be adaptable and continually refine your pitch based on feedback and insights gained from ongoing interactions with prospects. Successful pitching will guide the prospect through to the next stage of the sales process, moving them closer to making a decision. So, make sure your pitch provides clarity and encourages a specific action.  

4. Lead Nurturing

A single outreach doesn’t result in deal closures. Customers go through multiple touchpoints before they’re ready to buy (or they even consider buying). One research study shows that it takes an average of eight touchpoints to generate a desired conversion, while it takes at least five touchpoints for top-performing sales teams. That's where lead nurturing comes into play. 

Lead nurturing is the process where sales reps capture the lead's attention and interest with relevant offers and resources. The goal is to deepen the relationship with the lead gradually. It's about showing how your product or service can help address critical pain points. An effective lead nurturing technique is showcasing case studies that the prospect may relate to.

5. Closing the Deal

Before the final stages of a deal closing, there are some aspects of sales engagement that will make or break the deal. Here are some of the key elements that contribute to closing a deal:

  • Customized solutions: Successful closure often involves presenting a solution tailored to the customer's specific needs. Demonstrating a deep understanding of the challenges and proposing a product or service that directly addresses those issues is a powerful motivator.
  • Handling objections: The deal-closing phase is where potential objections arise. Skilled sales professionals are prepared to address these complaints calmly and effectively, emphasizing the product's benefits and value.
  • Effective communication: Clear and concise communication is indispensable. Customers should fully comprehend what they are getting, including pricing, terms, and additional details.
  • Mutual agreement: Achieving a successful deal closure means reaching a mutual agreement between the buyer and seller. Both parties should be satisfied with the terms and conditions, ensuring a positive and lasting business relationship.
  • Smooth transaction: Ensuring a seamless and efficient transaction process can significantly enhance the customer's experience and confidence in their decision to buy.

6. Retention Stage

80% of your future profits will come from 20% of your existing customers. It means your company can generate more revenue at a more affordable cost if it can keep its existing customers. Making retention the final step of your sales engagement strategy will not only secure your current revenue but also provide a solid foundation for sustainable growth. This step includes continuous efforts to enhance customer satisfaction by providing exceptional service and identifying opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Sales teams can up their retention game by uncovering why past customers moved on and finding possible problems in your sales process. The sales engagement process is a cycle where every phase plays a role in not only acquiring new customers but also retaining and delighting existing ones. By constantly analyzing and improving the entire cycle, businesses can adapt to changing customer needs and generate more revenue.

5 Tips to Improve Your Sales Engagement Process

You have seen how complex a sales engagement plan can be and how it can vary for different stages of the customer journey. However, there are some best practices you can follow no matter the industry you're in. Here are a few general and proven tips you can start implementing today.

  1. Multichannel Engagement

As discussed previously, most customers will be ready to buy only after multiple interactions with the brand. A McKinsey report shows that customers want and expect to engage through multiple channels. And 72% of businesses that followed this saw an increase in revenue.  

  1. Personalization

A personalized touch demonstrates that you've done your homework and makes your pitch stand out from generic messages. And no, it doesn't just mean adding the client's name in the greeting and subject line. Get to know more about the company or the point of contact and use that in crafting a message that resonates with leads/prospects. Here's an example of a personalized sales pitch from Hubspot:

personalised sales pitch

Notice how the pitch focuses on the company's growth and tailors the communication around it. Here are some other advanced attributes you can use to create personalized communication and increase engagement:

  • Behavioral data: Incorporate data on the prospect's behavior and interactions with your content. It can include which web pages they've visited, what emails they've opened, or which products or services they've shown interest in.
  • Personal information: Details about the point of contact found on their social media profiles, like hobbies, achievements, previous experience, etc.
  • Purchase intent: Understand why they would be interested in purchasing your product. Do they want a cheaper alternative? Or are they seeking a specific feature or solution?

With Sellular, you can personalize your outreach by setting up email sequences with advanced fields that go beyond generic, one-size-fits-all messaging.

Omnichannel Sales Engagement with Sellular
Omnichannel Sales Engagement with Sellular
  1. Align Sales and Marketing

Your marketing strategy has a huge role to play in the sales engagement process. Most prospects might have had interactions with the marketing content before they moved into the sales funnel. So, make sure you align your sales engagement efforts with your marketing team. To begin with, you can set up regular meetings between sales and marketing teams to ensure collaboration. 

  • Define the quality of leads that the sales team expects so that marketing can put in the right kind of effort to meet those goals.
  • Ask the marketing team to qualify leads before handing them to sales. One way is to provide them with a checklist of criteria that those leads need to pass.

With the right sales engagement tools, you can bring more transparency to sales initiatives and collaborate with other teams in your organization.

  1. Stay flexible

In the dynamic world of sales, the key to remaining competitive is being open to continuous change and improvement. The right sales engagement plan is constantly analyzed and optimized to bring in maximum conversions. You have to iterate on your approach, whether it's fine-tuning your outreach strategy, exploring new communication channels, or embracing emerging technologies.

For example, if you find out that leads are unresponsive to a particular communication channel, be ready to find other channels that suit them and pivot your strategy accordingly.

To shift gears at the right time, you need to track all your sales engagement activities and set solid key performance indicators (KPIs). You can then take steps to analyze and refine prospecting, positioning, and nurturing processes.

  1. Using the Right Sales Engagement Platform

A sales engagement platform is a tool used to efficiently build, execute, and measure sales activities across multiple channels. More sales teams are adopting technologies to help their sellers engage effectively with prospects and customers. A Gartner report states that 80% of B2B sales organizations will transition to data-driven selling, merging their sales process, applications, data and analytics into a single operational practice by 2025. 

Here are some of the top benefits and functions of a sales engagement platform:

  • Automation: Streamline and automate repetitive sales tasks, such as email outreach, follow-ups, and data entry, freeing up sales reps to focus on high-value activities.
  • Manage multichannel, multi-touch campaigns: Sales engagement platforms allow organizations to build, execute, and evaluate campaigns across various communication channels, including email, phone, social media, and more.
  • Connect with other apps: Most sales engagement platforms come with integrations to other tools like CRMs and chatbots so that you can have a centralized workplace for all sales activities.
  • Analytics: Use data to figure out what works and then improve effectiveness across different stages of the sales cycle. 

Enhance Your Sales Engagement with Sellular

The best sales engagement platforms are complex; they are multichannel, multi-touch, and personalized to the buyer. This approach requires a departure from the one-size-fits-all mindset and a shift toward a customer-centric philosophy. It calls for active listening, data-driven insights, and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing needs of your audience.

Thanks to sales engagement platforms like Sellular, embracing complexity is not only manageable but also empowering. So, welcome the challenge, leverage the capabilities of Sellular, and let your sales engagement strategy flourish.

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