By David Kübler
We can all agree that engaging potential customers is one of the hardest parts of the business but simultaneously the deciding factor between failure and victory in hitting quarterly goals. Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) are here to give salespeople more time for the actual sale and to meet those goals while leveraging their hard work to optimize the intelligence of the system.
What is a SEP?
Simply put: A technology platform, much like ERPs and CRMs before them. But unlike them, it’s a system of action, a place that centralizes sales-related activities. They will integrate with the former to leverage for example contact or opportunity data and help turn it into actional steps to facilitate your sales cycle. Automation can cut into time-consuming administrative tasks or minimize manual follow-ups as most SEPs will even support content outreach with templates and structured analytics. They are here to facilitate your sales efficiency and personalization at scale.
“Hunter what happened here?”
This was the error message I showed in one such SEP to the amazing sales development representatives I was working with at the time when they accidentally forgot to add their prospect into a sequence. Sequences are one of the typical features of a SEP, that help structure automized touchpoints.
Why did I do that? Not only do sequences raise reply/answer rate, but tasks and actions can be customized to benefit the type and stage of individual accounts. This allows for maximized personalization while still keeping the reps on track guiding the prospects in the right direction by default. An incredibly reliable system.
It doesn’t stop there though, different sequences perform differently, so looking at engagement metrics and positive to negative sentiment in replies helps to make the engagement even more successful. This in turn shows in the number of conversions my users can make which lastly makes for happy and quota hitting SDRs.
An era of sales tech
Check out this study by Forrester commissioned by SalesLoft in 2019 which revealed the benefit of their SEP. An increase in response rates by 2.5x, an increase in lead to opportunity conversion by 20%, and an increase in customer renewal rates accounting for an additional 13% of customer lifetime value. All great benchmarks for what a SEP can do for the success of key commercial KPIs.
Think about what that could mean for your business.
The sad thing is that a lack of empowerment like this is the unfortunate truth for many operational sales folks out there, even in our startup bubble.
The digital transformation has touched every aspect of how a company and the ecosystem they live in operate. Accepting that and adapting to these shifts is the difference between Nokia in 2003 and Nokia after 2013. Remind yourself till it doesn’t hurt anymore, “Change is good” means you are moving forward.
Just like Product is experiencing, it’s all about the “how”. UX/UI couldn’t be more relevant, in a world where everyone can do what you do. It’s about how you do it. Sales is the same, we need to find differentiation in how we reach out, what touchpoints we leverage, how we best identify the gap and sell on the most relevant value. That is what SEPs want to make you successful at.
The SEP market
Outreach.io is such a vendor. Evaluated at $4.4 billion it recently revealed its artificial intelligence-supported sales enablement tool called KAIA making it one of the biggest players in this space, Salesloft is another huge player coming in at a recent $1.1 billion evaluation. In a research paper by the Aragon Research Globe from 2017, they predicted the total market worth of sales engagement tools at around $5 billion. It’s already much bigger. Similarly, Verified Market Research predicts by 2028 the space will be valued at $8 billion. I wonder just how much bigger it will actually be by the end of the century.
Back to the tool itself, I won’t lie, after my first week of using Outreach (back then in 2019 I was a BDE myself) I realized the immense potential this kind of software can have. I come from good old call center culture, power dialer, 13 seconds between calls, up to 300 dials a day. This engagement tool could help me find a speed that I knew I needed but also leverage the inputs I made to make both me and the system smarter.
There are a plethora of vendors and this space is constantly growing, just check out Nacy Nardines engagement landscape or some of the tools highlighted below:
- Hubspot sales hub
- ZoomInfo Engage
There’s something out there for everybody, some rely stronger on the power of email, or come with their own database of accounts while other focus on crisp automation and data insights.
Find your impact
Let SEPs help you structure your outreach. For example, use all-call sequences to find out when specific personas have their best connection times or how often it takes a certain kind of call to move the deal along. Rely on nurturing sequences to keep you top of mind post-qualification and use triggers and signals to loop them back to your reps at the best possible time. Track the success of your touchpoints, maybe LinkedIn isn’t as good as you think, maybe you should invest more in short info mail. Identify the most successful templates for specific stages of your cycle or invest in automated variables for hyper-personalization. Learn to leverage the massive sales data you store in your CRM by making it actionable in your SEP.
At the end of the day, these tools are designed to help guide sellers’ BDE/SDRs and AM/AEs alike through a consistent, repeatable, and meaningful process in a personalized manner. Delivering insights into the funnel and keeping a standardized process that can be optimized.