Sales Engagement Best Practices
By Darryl Praill, CRO at VanillaSoft
Implementing an effective sales engagement strategy is key for organizations of any size, but is of particular importance for small and medium sized organizations. Here are some of the best practices I’ve uncovered over the years…some are small, incremental steps, but they build up to total awesomeness, while others are big ideas that, trust me, you need to embrace for better results.
1. Make Learning a Priority and a Process of Engagement
The number one mistake that many new SDRs make is saying, “just tell me what to do.” No deep learning occurs with “just tell me what to do.” Your job doesn’t end with a checklist of steps. You must engage yourself with and beyond the process.
Learning is earning. I repeat, the more you learn, the more you will earn. Be selfish. Invest in yourself.
Learning is a process. Managers can’t just say, ‘Boom, do exactly these things and you’ll be great.’ Managers absolutely need to provide guidance, instruction, even playbooks – but there is a great deal of learning that needs to happen on the job. That on-the-job experience is key to becoming a successful salesperson.
2. Learn the Difference Between Marketing, Prospecting, Selling, and Order Taking
There is a lot of confusion out there among sales professionals when it comes to the difference between marketing, prospecting, and selling. We can thank the “social selling” phenomenon for a lot of that confusion.
Here are the definitions to keep in mind for your marketing and sales process.
Marketing activities aim to reach a defined audience of your target customers. When you post updates on social media, write a blog post (even one that includes dynamic content to “personalize” it for a known reader), or send a bulk email — those are marketing activities. You are speaking with a group of people to try to persuade them to take action. Even “social selling” is a form of marketing if you consider social media updates as part of your social selling tactics. Think of marketing as one-to-many outreach. You would use marketing to create top-of-funnel, unqualified leads.
Prospecting activities include those actions you take to connect with an individual prospect whom you don’t yet know is a qualified lead but who fits your ideal customer profile. Engaging with an individual on LinkedIn, making a cold call, sending a cold email — these are prospecting activities. When a sales rep reaches out to a prospect, he or she is attempting to determine whether or not that prospect has a problem that the rep can solve. The rep is trying to qualify the prospect and set an appointment for a meeting or a demonstration; not make a sale. Think of this as targeted, one-to-one outreach.
Sales activities occur when you are actively working with a qualified lead to persuade them to purchase your product or service. You are engaging in some form of give-and-take with the individual to arrive at a point where both parties recognize the value of working together. Unlike marketing or prospecting, sales activities only occur when a lead passes your qualification process.
Order taking happens when your marketing activities are so persuasive that the person places an order on your website or over the phone. The person already decided to buy before ever talking to a sales rep, if they talked to a rep at all. But just because you happened to pick up the phone to take the order doesn’t necessarily mean you are a high-performing salesperson. It indicates that either you are good at social and should consider joining the marketing team, or you’re just lucky!
Maybe you’re wondering, “Why does this matter if I’m getting results with the status quo?” Let me ask this in response: what if you could blow your quota out of the water by differentiating your activities and focusing more time on actual selling?
3. Change Your Mindset about Selling
People who have never sold anything to make a living typically have a negative idea of what it means to be a sales rep. They think of salespeople as untrustworthy and pushy. Well, perhaps some are…but that is certainly not the case across the board.
Sometimes, even people who do want to sell undermine their own success because they focus on their end goal instead of the prospect’s goal. To have effective sales conversations, you have to change your mindset from being singularly focused on “crushing quota” to “helping people solve problems” (which in turn, helps you crush your quota!). Trust in the process to achieve the outcome you desire.
4. Make Sales & Marketing Technology Work for You
There are a number of ways you can make sure that your sales and marketing technologies are working for you, including:
- Ensure your marketing team has a marketing automation platform that helps them deliver personalized content experiences, capture leads, track website visitors, and track important data about what’s driving marketing qualified leads to your site.
- Give your sales organization access to sales enablement and sales engagement solutions that help minimize friction in the sales cycle and improve the quality and quantity of your sales team’s outreach.
- Consider CRM as your centralized source for information about customer engagement — orders, projects, history, etc