With the B2B sales landscape getting more complex than ever, finding the right solution for your team can be a challenge.
Are you up to date when it comes to choosing the best tech stack to empower your sales team? The right sales software tools can help your organization crush your target in terms of booking meetings and building revenue.
As B2B companies progressively understand the tools available and how to buy them, the barriers to entry are tumbling down. Especially in the sales engagement category, it isn’t uncommon to come across a long (almost too long) list of providers.
So, where to begin?
First of all, what is Sales Engagement?
The term sales engagement refers to the multiple interactions between a sales rep and a prospect (by email, phone, social media, etc) throughout the sales cycle. This includes how the rep communicates with prospects and how effectively that outreach is moving prospects toward a purchase decision.
Basically, sales engagement is everything the sales rep does in order to get prospects to respond and say yes to a meeting. Of course, this is not an easy feat. In order for this to work, you need a solid sales playbook, complete alignment between teams (especially Sales and Marketing), motivated and trained reps, and, at least, a phone to reach out to prospects. So, it’s not surprising that sales leaders are, more than ever, looking into solutions to deal with such a crucial element of the prospecting and selling processes.
This is where sales engagement tools kick in.
Sales engagement tools seek to make this process easier for reps as well as make them better at their job by helping reps stay organized and streamline their workday through cadences, automation, and integrations with other sales tools. They help reps engage with prospects and customers across multiple channels in a more effective way to open more and better opportunities.
But, how do you know if you actually need one? Well, if your sales team is having a hard time connecting with prospects or you are not hitting your sales goals, that’s probably a good indicator that it’s time to try something new.
Ok, sounds easy, right? You just type “Sales Engagement Platform” into Google, pick the first one that pops out, and wait for your sales to skyrocket!
Sorry to break it to you, but it's a bit more complicated than that.
Different sales engagement tools offer different methodologies and features. Classic platforms like Outreach or Salesloft focus on email automation, for example, while newer alternatives like Bloobirds do the same while diving into the more strategic side of sales as well.
So, it basically depends on what your needs are and what you’re looking for. If your main goal is to reach lots of people the fastest way possible, then the first option could work for you and your team. If, on the other hand, your goal is to be precise and strategic in your approach, the latter would be a better fit.
Another thing to consider is how scalable the solution is. What works for a small business can become obsolete as soon as the team starts growing. At the same time, a very complex tool may require a lot of training and resources that some companies are able to afford, but can cause distractions and signify huge investments for smaller organizations.
We know it’s a lot, but we're here to help you. So, let's talk about the basic features you should look for.
What are the basic features every Sales Engagement platform should have?
Think of these things as the non-negotiables, the starting point for any sales tool in 2022.
Email automation: Cadences or sequences that users can activate and send sets of emails to leads.
CRM integration: At the very least, a good connection between your sales engagement tool and your CRM so that you can get the best out of both.
Contactability tools: Considering that one of the main objectives of a sales engagement tool is to increase the number of conversations that sales reps are having, you can expect as a minimum for tools to have a telephone dialer, email, and LinkedIn connections.
Keep in mind this is the minimum that you would expect from a sales engagement tool, and, as you might imagine, it won't cover the entire process as it should. In fact, none of these features alone are enough for managing pipelines, being precise, or selling more effectively.
So, what are we missing here?
Which features turn the average sales engagement platform into the ideal tool?
Now, these are what transform the average solution into the next-level tool that modern sales teams need.
Workflows: It is super important to be able to automate processes within a sales engagement tool.
Pipeline Management: You need a system that organizes your pipeline, reminds you when to reach out to prospects, follow up, nurture, etc.
In-App Playbook: Having your entire sales strategy in one place really elevates a sales engagement tool. Being able to incorporate not just key business assets like ‘Target Markets’ or ‘Buyer Personas’, but also have everything from cadences, scenarios, multi-channel pitches, different types of messaging segmentation, and aforementioned workflows, makes life easier.
In order to ensure your sales strategy is future-proofed, your reps are focused on the right task at hand, and maximize productivity and growth, you need to invest in a solution that covers both the basics and the not so basics.
So, when it comes to tech stacks, what software to use, and how to start to define key revenue processes, there are a few different options.
What options do you have, with or without a sales engagement tool?
Phone and notepad: Pretty much every company has been at this stage and that’s ok. This is a good option for very small companies that are just starting their selling journey but keep in mind that this is not a scalable process.
CRM with additional features: This will be a stage that is familiar to lots of startups - your first CRM. This is a nice option for companies that don’t have a large sales team but are starting to professionalize their sales process and are looking for an economical way of collecting data. It’s worth noting that this option does require a sales team to be constantly updating and creating tasks in order for that data to be successfully collected.
Salesforce: The great advantage of Salesforce is its sheer depth and the extent to which almost a whole company can operate within it, from those in sales to those in finance or customer success. This all said, there is a clear drawback. Salesforce is a CRM, not a sales tool and it does require serious maintenance and often specific individuals to look after, build out processes and keep clean in general.
CRM + Sales Engagement: Here we are talking about the generation of sales engagement platforms that came to prominence in the early-mid 201Xs such as Salesloft and Outreach and other software of a similar nature. They essentially act as contactability tools on top of the CRM. Initially, their category was named “sales automation” so it is no surprise that the focus is using automatic cadences. If you have a broad target market with lots of ‘low-hanging fruit’ and you aren’t worried about burning leads or necessarily garnering more strategic insights, then this type of tool can work well.
CRM + next-gen sales tool: The last scenario on this list is the combination of a CRM, like the ever present Salesforce or HubSpot, but with the added power of a next-generation sales tool like Bloobirds. If you are using a CRM, but are experiencing those classic pains of endless form-filling, a sales team that you struggle to evaluate in terms of messaging and activity, or simply looking to make your sales team more productive and precise, then this tech stack is the option for you.
In conclusion, it is obviously possible to prospect and sell to new customers with just a phone and a notepad, but this doesn’t lend itself very well to a scaling business and it is clear that there are options out there to drastically improve your sales process and effectiveness.
What is also clear from the above analysis is that CRMs, whilst in some cases can be used as sales tools, are not designed to proactively help salespeople and lack some key basic features and almost all the ‘next-level’ functionalities.
The first wave of sales engagement tools can also be a good option, but as they were born in an era focused on automation and productivity, if your main challenge is to be precise and strategic in your approach, perhaps there are better options out there.
Now that you’ve gone through a quick breakdown of the must-haves for a next-level sales engagement platform, you’re ready to figure out the right option for you and your team.
Of course, if you want to make sure you’re not missing anything, check out the Sales Engagement Buyer’s Guide. It’s the ultimate handbook for sales development teams.
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