Technology companies often hijack terms from other industries and use them to name their offerings. This can confuse people who use a term in a different way. This is where we find ourselves with the term sales engagement. Here, we will look at both forms of sales engagement, the technological approach and the more important sales engagement, which helps you close deals and improve your results.
Sales Engagement as Sales Technology
People who live in Northern California turn everything into an app. Anything that can be done in analog will soon be digital. Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of sales engagement tools hitting the market. These software offerings are designed for tofu (top of funnel) and cold outreach.
Those who provide the technology will describe sales engagement as a set of communications. Because so many of these tools are used for prospecting, most interactions are asynchronous, like email, voicemail, and connections on LinkedIn. These tools are valuable because they let you build a prospecting sequence. They also let you prescribe touch points throughout the sales conversation and set up communications once you win an opportunity.
I like these tools because they provide structure and discipline to temper the autonomy you find in sales. It's easy to do what's next when it shows up on your screen. But another view of sales engagement is critically important.
Your Prospective Client's Lack of Sales Engagement
When I write "sales is broken," I am describing the lack of value and engagement in the older, outdated, and legacy approaches to B2B selling. When a salesperson uses a legacy slide deck to position their company and their products and services, it’s a sure sign that they are using an outdated approach. The slide deck is followed up with a question designed to elicit the contact's pain points so the salesperson can explain how their "solution" is the best way to improve the prospective client’s results.
When you observe these legacy conversations, you will notice contacts leaning back, bored and unengaged. The reason your contacts don't ask you questions about your company when you use a legacy slide deck is because they don’t need a history lesson on your company or your products. Buyers find this approach stale, as it is past its expiration date.
While it is good to be efficient, it's better to be effective. In the sales conversation, you want to engage with your prospective and existing clients in a way that lets you create value and connect with your contacts in a meaningful way. This sales engagement is not measured in quantitative terms. Instead, it is qualitative.
Real Sales Engagement in the Sales Conversation
You want your contacts to lean forward. You want them to engage in a sales conversation that helps them to understand why they are finding it difficult to produce the results they need. You also want them to recognize what's changed in their environment and the impact it has on their business or industry. Using data to provide what amounts to a paradigm shift improves engagement with your contacts who have recognized you can create value for them.
If you want real sales engagement, you must start with a conversation that is important enough that your contacts will engage. If the legacy approach causes them to disengage, what leads to real sales engagement? Your contacts are meeting with you because they are trying to improve their results. You create sales engagement by starting a conversation that helps your contacts learn and understand what they need to know to improve their strategic outcomes. You also get engagement when you help them recognize what they will need to change.
Elements of Real Sales Engagement
There are a number of signs you have real sales engagement with your contacts. The more of these signs are in place, the more value you are creating for your contacts. When the following elements fall into place, it’s a sign your conversation is helpful:
- Client Questions: The first and one of the most important factors that suggests your client is engaged, is that they ask questions. When clients need to understand what you are discussing, it is proof of their engagement.
- Adding Contacts to Meetings: Sometimes, the first person you meet with is vetting you. They want to ensure you will perform well before they add other people to the conversation. When a contact invites their peers to join a meeting, it’s a sign that you have your contact's engagement.
- Agreeing to Another Meeting: When a client opens their calendar and types in your name on a certain date at a certain time, you have sales engagement. When you go from one conversation to the next, it is proof of engagement.
- Client Effort: When your contacts are working as hard as you are to move their initiative forward, it’s not only a sign that they are engaged, but also that you have strong evidence that your sales experience is positioning you to win their business.
When these elements are missing, it means your approach isn't working. You are not creating the value the client needs, and they don't find the conversation helpful. The inability to acquire the next meeting means you need to change your approach to one that will result in sales engagement.
Real Sales Engagement
We overvalue efficiency because, in our world, there is too much demand on our time and attention. This is also true for your clients. At the same time, we undervalue effective selling when it seems to be the largest variable in creating and winning new opportunities.
If you want greater sales engagement from your prospective clients, decision-makers, and other stakeholders, you must give them something that supports that result. Those who work to use an effective selling approach will be rewarded with sales engagement. Those who don't will find the opportunities in their pipeline die of old age. To assess your sales engagement, check out Leading Growth.