You know what it’s like, you’re a busy Salesforce Administrator ensuring Salesforce is doing what it does best: helping your sales team manage their accounts, contacts and opportunities. Then, out of nowhere, the Sales Director comes up to you and says “We need a Sales Engagement Platform (also known as SEP) for my sales team, can you make this happen ASAP? Oh, and by the way, it needs to work in Salesforce, otherwise my sales team won’t use it.”
Reports suggest this has been happening a lot recently, but why? Well, according to Forbes, sales teams are ONLY spending a third of their time actually selling. The main reason for this is that selling is no longer about just calling a complete stranger, it’s about understanding the person on the other end of the phone and collecting relevant information gleaned from every interaction to be used in future personalised activities. In this article, we’ll explain what a Sales Engagement Platform is, considerations when choosing one and how to measure success.
What is a Sales Engagement Platform?
Sales Engagement is all about making the most of every customer interaction in a single platform. A Sales Engagement Platform is an extension of your CRM and is used to further enhance the native capabilities of Salesforce.
This is achieved through:
- Integration of external data used during the sales process e.g. LinkedIn, Email, Company Information, Google searches, relationship maps, etc.
- Automation of manual tasks, such as sending emails, logging data into Salesforce or by displaying intelligent scripts.
The increasing demand for Sales Engagement Platform
This new way of selling has massively increased the demand for tools that automate mundane tasks, allowing sales teams to work more efficiently and focus on what they do best: selling. In fact, 92% of sales development organizations rank Sales Engagement Platforms as critical to their team’s success.
Three data points from the TOPO Sales Development Technology Benchmark Report highlight the importance of sales engagement platforms:
- 87% of sales development organizations have adopted a sales engagement platform.
- Sales engagement platforms are top-rated technology in terms of positive ROI.
- 92% of sales development organizations rank sales engagement platforms as critical to their team’s success.
How does this impact working from home?
Since working from home became the new normal, the pace of digitalisation has rapidly increased. A byproduct of this has been increased work capacity of sales team members. The 2 hours a day previously spent commuting or travelling to client sites, can now be used to increase sales productivity.
How do Sales Engagement Platforms help sales teams?
A Sales Engagement Platform helps the salesperson better prioritise their day and get a 360 degree overview of their prospects and accounts without needing to leave Salesforce.
If a native Salesforce app is being used there will be fewer tools to manage and navigate, as the salesperson will work in a single solution: Salesforce. This will remove the need to browse through 8 different applications to complete a single sales call.
Below is an example of how PipeLaunch integrates the following functionalities into one view:
- Customizable Company News
- LinkedIn Integrations
- Email / Calling Functionality
- Dynamic Scripts and Pitch
- Relationship Maps
The best Sales Engagement Platforms will enable the Salesperson to accelerate planning, research and understanding the customer. In other words, they will no longer need to spend 10 minutes gathering all the relevant customer data from multiple sources such as News, LinkedIn, Previous Activities, Relationship Map, and so on.
Is your Salesforce instance ready for a Sales Engagement Platform?
Before you get started selecting a Sales Engagement Platform, you should make sure that you have a complete understanding of your team, their process and the current data.
Like any application you use to enhance Salesforce, it will only be as good as the data that lives in Salesforce. Before implementing a Sales Engagement Platform, analyse your data to ensure it is as accurate as possible. This includes account types, industries and any other relevant data, as it will be important when segmenting and prioritising your accounts.
Involving the sales team on an early stage will help you find the right Sales Engagement Platform for your company. Gather feedback on their existing sales process, favourite tools and any current issues so that you can plan plenty of quick wins from your Sales Engagement Platform rollout. In particular, document and analyse any external tools the sales team are using in their daily business to do prospecting, as this will help you better understand what applications and functionality are most beneficial for your company.
After speaking with the sales team, confirm what success would look like and how it can be measured from day 1. A great measure is the number of high quality interactions per sales rep, increased conversion rates and better objection handling.
Considerations when selecting a Sales Engagement Platform
If you are looking to implement a Sales Engagement Platform, there are multiple things to consider. Before implementing a Sales Engagement Platform, make sure you speak to a few Sales Engagement providers to understand how well they fit the existing sales process in your company.
It’s also important to understand how a Sales Engagement Platform would impact the lead management process, and how you will score incoming as well as outbound leads. The lead management process and lead scoring define what leads are prioritized (contacted first). Not being able to take this into consideration could mean that your sales team is contacting the leads with the lowest propensity buy and therefore achieving lower conversion rates.
Some questions to ask yourself and any Sales Engagement Platform vendor include:
- What teams can the platform support, are there multiple use-cases which would provide a higher ROI?
- How much time will the platform save the team?
- What tools does the platform offer to make my team more effective and how can this be measured?
- Does the platform align with my existing process?
- Is the solution customizable enough to enable me to adjust the solution to reflect the way the sales team works?
- Is the user interface intuitive or familiar to avoid poor user adoption and reduce lost selling time as the sales team learns how to use the new software?
- What ongoing administration does the tool require and who will fulfil this role?
There is no one-size-fits all approach as each business will have unique processes, tools and requirements.
MUST HAVE functionalities for any Sales Engagement Platform
Planning – Selection and segmentation of target accounts or personas. Below is an example of how PipeLaunch helps sales teams plan their day week or month by creating target lists of accounts or contacts.
Automation – Data Input, Templates, Scheduled Email
Scripts, Objections Handling – Guided Selling
Machine Learning and AI – To get insights into customer behaviour and which contact to prioritise
Single Screen – The Salesperson should be able to complete 90% of their job within on screen
Integration – News, LinkedIn, Salesforce
Prioritisation – Lead scoring to make sure the hottest prospect is contacted first
Data Enrichment – A system that ensures that the information on the prospect you have in your CRM is still relevant and up to date
Salesforce Native vs. an External Tool
For most companies it makes sense to use a native solution and take advantage of what Salesforce already has to offer. A Sales Engagement Platform is an extension of your CRM and its main purpose is to make sales teams more efficient at prospecting without needing to navigate yet another 3rd party application.
A native Salesforce application will connect all the data with other departments using Salesforce such as Marketing, Product and Operations, increasing the return on investment of an existing CRM. It will also allow you to streamline a process from the beginning, such as prospecting all the way to completion with opportunity management.
The other benefit of a native solution is that, as long as Salesforce connects to an application, so will your native Sales Engagement Platform.
In some cases a non native application could make sense if it provides integrations or specific features not available elsewhere.
If you do not know which CRM you will be using in the future, you might want to consider going for a non native solution that connects with multiple CRM vendors.
How do you measure success?
You should always analyse and define the KPIs before getting started! Make sure you take a snapshot of the right KPIs before using the Sales Engagement Platform ( e.g. # interactions per rep, created pipeline, etc.) and compare it with the post implementation results, as it will help further adjust the tool to get the desired results.
Prior to implementing a Sales Engagement Platform, be sure to understand your natural growth. Whilst it’s great if your company is naturally growing by 10, 20 or even 30% you should remember to deduct that from the before and after snapshot to accurately assess what growth is generated from your new Sales Engagement Platform.
Some recommended KPIs to measure include:
- Number of weekly interactions
- Email / LinkedIn Response rates
- Meetings booked
- Conversion rate from Lead to Opportunity
- Created pipeline this period vs the previous period
- Created pipeline this quarter vs same quarter in the previous year
- Growth of the number of meetings attained
Some Sales Engagement Platform providers claim ROI’s of over 300%, and many of these claims have been backed by customer case studies. So, if you feel you are not getting the most out of your Sales Engagement Platform, speak to your sales rep!
Ongoing user adoption
In addition to measuring success using KPIs, it can be beneficial to assess user adoption and how users are interacting with the Sales Engagement Platform.
If your Sales Engagement Platform happens to be a Salesforce ISV, you can take advantage of ISVapp.com, a solution that gives in-depth insights into the usage of any Salesforce ISV, ultimately helping you drive user adoption.
Getting ready for the modern buyer means that salespeople should be increasingly customer centric and a Sales Engagement Platform can help with this endeavour. However, before implementing a solution, make sure it fits the way your sales team works to ensure that it can help you achieve your goals.
If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.