The Sales (& Marketing) Engagement Imperative

The adoption of Sales Engagement technology has been rapidly accelerating as more and more companies share their experiences on how they are using it to deliver personalized messages at scale — and getting out-sized results.

I wanted to get some additional perspective on this, so I recently spoke with Sham Sao, who’s been successful in both CRO and CMO roles, serves as an LP in Stage 2 Capital, advises a number of high-growth companies, and has helped shepherd the launch of Sales Engagement technology at many of these companies.

By the way, if you haven’t heard of Stage 2 Capital, they’re a venture fund with a specific focus on helping companies scale Go-to-Market.  Their founders include Mark Roberge who was the CRO at HubSpot and took it from $0 to $100M and Jay Po who was a VC at Bessemer — their Limited Partners are also Go-to-Market experts who serve as Advisors to their portfolio companies.

Sales Engagement & Coordination Between Teams

I asked Sham to share some perspective on Sales Engagement technology, including how this connects with both the Sales and Marketing functions.  He offered the following insight:

Without Sales Engagement technology, teams are faced with trying to use drip marketing through their Marketing Automation systems to try to scale personalized outreach, or to reach out to prospects manually through their SDRs.

Sales Engagement technology is specifically designed to personalize messages at scale. For example, it can automate sequences that include delivering emails, prompting reps to make phone calls, and even sending personalized gifts as a part of the cadence (more on this later).

SDR teams are great at outreach, but it’s tough to scale this function without this type of technology.  Using Marketing Automation systems can certainly provide scale to the outbound engine, but the outreach is not personalized, and ends up not being as effective (it cannot emulate the personalization that an SDR team can achieve). Sales Engagement systems combine the best of both.

While Sales Engagement systems can work well when implemented either by Sales teams or by Marketing (the latter especially when SDRs are under Marketing), the biggest bang comes when Sales and Marketing leadership work together to develop the best process flow.  Sales teams have an in-depth knowledge of how to engage prospects.  And Marketing has expertise in A/B testing and building content assets to add value to prospect discussions.

When you get these teams working in concert, it’s an unbeatable combination. On the other hand, when they are not coordinated, there are lots of opportunities for miscommunication and even conflicts between automated messages from Marketing Automation systems.

“It’s critical for both Sales and Marketing leaders to have a deep understanding of Sales Engagement technologies and contribute to their success.  And definitely do not try to use a marketing automation tool to emulate SDRs.  Solutions like Outreach.io are designed specifically for this purpose and are really a ‘must have’ to get the best results.  I’m a big fan of Outreach because not only is their technology outstanding, so is their thought-leadership — including tools, templates, training, and methodologies to drive sales pipelines.”

Putting Sales Engagement into Action

To get going with Sales Engagement, it’s critical to choose a technology that is easy-to-use. 

This sequence from Outreach, shows how the system can deliver personalized messages, just as an SDR would do manually, but achieve this much more efficiently, so the sales team can produce much greater revenue with the same level of resourcing:

To maximize pipeline growth, companies need to do two things: (1) break through the clutter to gain the attention of prospects; (2) engage them at scale with personalized, high-value communications that progress the discussion.  If you can’t get the attention of the prospect, your message won’t get through, no matter how good it is.  This is actually a major problem in many markets — just getting through the clutter.

Including direct mail in the sequence can be a fantastic way of breaking through the noise — and sending a gift can be even more powerful.  This is especially valuable in Account-Based Sales and Marketing where it’s critically important to find a way to find a way into each targeted account.

I asked Sham about this challenge, and he had this to say, “We actually have a company in the Stage 2 portfolio that tackles just this issue — Sendoso.  Just as Outreach offers the ability to personalize communications at scale, Sendoso offers the ability to personalize gifts (and their delivery) at scale.”

A key requirement to doing this successfully is integrating with technologies like Outreach so that the gifting component of the sequence can be completed in the same automated fashion as the other steps.

Here’s a quick example showing how this works with Sendoso and Outreach working in concert:

By including a gift in a sequence, response rates can be significantly increased.  This is incredibly valuable for breaking into targeted accounts.

The Importance of A/B Testing

At Nowspeed, we’ve been doing A/B testing for over 20 years through all the evolutions of marketing from print to direct-mail campaigns to intense focus on digital and now a blend of both.  One thing we’ve seen as a constant through the times is the importance of A/B testing in maximizing results.

Testing is crucial because as hard as anyone can try to figure out what’s going to perform the best, reality can always surprise.  Moreover, what works for one company does not always work for a different company, especially if they are targeting different markets.  Even things like including a “PS” at the end of an email may work really well when targeting certain prospects, but may degrade results in another market.

In building out sequences, it’s also very important to set up the testing so that only one area of the email is being changed in each test.  That way you can isolate exactly which change drove a greater or lesser return. If you’re running sequences that are totally different from each other, you can see that one outperforms another, but you may not learn exactly why since multiple parts were changed.

The beauty of Sales Engagement technology is that it can track the results of these tests precisely so you can make data-driven decisions.  We’ve seen companies that have tried to do this with SDR teams, and while it’s theoretically possible, in reality most teams are not able to stick to the rigorous manual tracking required to do this.  And in those cases that they are, they end up spending a lot of time on tracking, which reduces rep productivity.

Nowspeed helps companies grow by implementing digital marketing strategies to drive awareness, engagement and leads. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you leverage sales engagement software to improve the productivity of your sales team, feelfree to contact me to schedule a free consultation.

Interviewee Bio:

Sham Sao has grown orgs from $3M to $20M, from $15M to $75M, and from $300M to $450M; served in roles including GM, CRO, CMO; led teams at McKinsey & Company, and advised companies growing 100-200% per year.  He currently serves as GM and Board Advisor for think-cell, and also runs Growth 11, which provides Advisory Services to companies focused on accelerating recurring revenue.

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