Sales reps are expected to keep track of their activities (both previous activities and future tasks). Fortunately, Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) such as Outreach, SalesLoft, VanillaSoft, Xant, Yesware, and ConnectLeader do most of this automatically. As touches are completed, they are automatically logged to the SEP and synced with the CRM. The SEP also tracks outcomes (call answered, voicemail drop, email view, email click-through, etc.), records and analyzes calls, and offers recommendations (best practices, next best actions).
This is a fairly new category of software which is mostly used in technology sales but beginning to extend into other B2B categories. Initial functionality focused on Sales Development Reps (SDRs) but richer functionality is being added which assists all sales positions.
These platforms set up cadences / sequences of planned activities that include email, phone, social, text, inbound, etc. Throughout the day, the system recommends the next best action. Because much of the work is scheduled by cadences, reps do not need to record most follow up tasks. Cadences include A/B tested email templates, scripts, and schedules so reps can be confident that they are employing a tested strategy. Email personalization is encouraged to improve click through rates and convey authenticity.
Other features of these platforms include
Automated meeting setup
Inbound call and chat support
The insertion of short personal videos from vendors such as Vidyard, Drift, Hippo Video, Videolicious, etc.
Recording, Transcription, and Analysis of calls and video meetings. Key moments are indexed for review (e.g. Next Steps, Pricing, Competitors, Feature Analysis, Talk Length and Ratios, Junk Words, etc.) and coaching. Call snippets may be forward to managers for questions (How should I handle this situation next time? Can we support this request?). They can also be forwarded to customer support (what is the status on this problem? Could you open a ticket?) and customer success (Is this feature supported?). Some vendors even support video libraries for training and coaching purposes.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator (SNAP) integrations
Cadence Pause (e.g. out of office) and Stop (e.g. Meeting set)
A/B testing and analytics for Sales and Marketing Operations
Opt-out tracking in general (do not contact) and specific (do not contact via text or phone, but email is OK).
If you are interested in evaluating SEPs, I wrote an overview that discusses the value proposition, key features, and questions to ask vendors.
While most of my blogging is published here, I also write commissioned blogs where I own the editorial. This provides me with additional channels for discussing sales intelligence, sales engagement, and B2B DaaS.
Here are my ConnectLeader blogs with their opening paragraphs:
Marketing Approved Templates and Scripts, “For at least a decade, there have been discussions about sales and marketing alignment and the inability of sales and marketing teams to provide a unified go-to-market strategy. Marketing is concerned that sales reps fail to use their leads, share their copy, or conform to the company’s positioning.”
Drive Sales Productivity with Integrated Sales Engagement, “At their recent Dreamforce show, Salesforce rolled out a Sales Cloud upgrade called High Velocity Sales which helps “identify the best leads, eliminate busy work and boost pipeline.” High Velocity Sales adds customized sequences for sales teams which incorporate best practice sales cadences within Salesforce. Features include email and phone sequences, templates, and call scripts.”
Closing the Loop on Inbound Leads, “My career began as a tele-support rep for an insurance agency automation system. Our role was to quickly return calls from customers and help resolve their system problems. Speed was paramount with emergency calls placed at the top of the queue. Because inbound calls were categorized with brief descriptions and codes, we also gave priority to problems that could be quickly resolved (while it was good for our quotas, there was also no reason to make customers wait an hour for a two-minute fix).”
How to Improve Your Sales Productivity Using a Sales Engagement Platform, “As soon as I submitted my last blog on Sales Productivity, CSO Insights published an update to their quota attainment research. The good news is global sales rep quota attainment rose from 53.0% to 54.3%. The bad news is that it falls within the range of error, so we probably won’t know if sales productivity is truly improving for another year. Even at 54.3%, sales reps remain well below the 63.0% quota attainment level of 2012. When CSO Insights Research Fellow Jim Dickie looked at the underlying metrics, 22 of the 23 operational metrics declined over the past five years.”
How to Think about Sales Productivity, “Research performed by CSO Insights found that sales reps are failing to meet quota at alarmingly high rates. Global B2B quota attainment was a mere 53% in 2016, dropping ten percent over five years. That means that only one in two sales reps is likely to meet quota this year with only a small percentage entering Q4 confident that they will reach quota.”
What GDPR Means to American Firms?, “Back in May, there was a good deal of news coverage around the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Unfortunately, most of the coverage was hyperbolic with a focus on penalties and how few companies had complied. While the GDPR fear mongering has died down, there is still a need to understand GDPR and comply with the law, even if you have no operations in Europe.”
Local Presence: Handle with Care, “Sometimes, the most effective sales approach may be the wrong strategy. One of these techniques is local presence. For generalized telemarketing, it can lift call connection rates and revenue, but for strategic selling it may result in a negative return on investment”
Vidyard announced six additional sales platforms for its GoVideo platform: Outreach, EveryoneSocial, Reply.io, 366 Degrees, ConnectLeader, and FunnelAmplified. Previously announced partners include SalesLoft, InsideSales, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, and Salesforce. Vidyard supports over 40 sales and marketing solutions.
Integrated video helps personalize a message and increases open and clickthrough rates.
Outreach and ConnectLeader offer Sales Engagement platforms with personalized videos being integrated into email steps. Outreach sales reps can include personal video within their sequences and monitor video engagement.
provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach sequences.
For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send videos within
your Outreach email. And when your prospect views the video, that
activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action to convert
at the highest level.”
becoming more personal every day. You must use the right channel for the
right engagement for the right prospect and customer, and we’re finding video
to be a key channel in engaging buyers,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.
“Vidyard has been tightly integrated with ConnectLeader, which transforms your videos into lead generation machines,” wrote ConnectLeader. Features include camera recording, screen recording, and video uploading of previously saved content in Vidyard.
Reply.io is an email-centric platform with contact management, drip campaigns, reply recommendations, email validation, and reply prioritization. The joint solution “lets users personalize sales drip campaigns, create personal intro videos or product demos, add them to email sequences in Reply.io, and automate one-to-one email engagement at scale.”
EveryoneSocial provides social selling tools for sales, marketing, communications, and recruitment teams. Users can select pre-recorded videos from a library or record custom videos and share with prospects and connections.
366 Degrees and Vidyard support SMB marketing with dynamic content, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and campaign metrics. Video can be integrated into newsletters, promotions, social media, and landing pages.
changing behaviours of today’s buyers and the availability of new technologies,
sales development is becoming a sophisticated business function that takes a
strategic approach to identifying and developing new sales opportunities based
a wide range of buying signals and sales engagement techniques,” blogged
Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard. “On average, SDRs use six
different tools. And the days of SDR teams inheriting tech from the
broader sales and marketing teams—such as customer relationship management
(CRM), email automation, and social listening—and adapting them to meet their
unique requirements for scalable sales prospecting are quickly coming to an