When people think about Sales engagement tools, we tend to think of the ways these tools can help us better manage outbound prospecting or inbound leads.
In reality, many best-in-class full-cycle account executive teams use sales engagement tools not only to help them manage their demand generation ABM strategy but throughout the sales cycle and funnel. These tools can help all the way through to account management, and improve how we interact with our current accounts.
Drawing on our experience in best practices across hundreds of clients implementing and using sales engagement tools, we’ve created a brief guide on how leading Account Executives can use their sales engagement platform throughout the sales cycle, and how they can integrate their platform into their day-to-day experience without adding additional work. This increases their ability to have more high-value contacts within their target accounts and sales pipeline.
Leading AEs Use Sales Engagement Tools in the Demand Generation Process
How do top AEs utilize their Sales engagement tools throughout the demand generation process to generate new meetings?
First off, it’s important to understand that full-cycle AEs only spend a part of their day on lead generation.
Typically, Account Executives can use Sales engagement tools in the same way as SDRs. Unfortunately, some AEs are solely responsible for lead generation in addition to running sales meetings, creating proposals, and other sales-related activities. But when they implement Sales engagement platforms, they can perform what would be fundamentally different Sales team roles while effectively managing full-cycle activities.
To make sure that Sales engagement tools are used effectively in lead generation, it’s vital that teams implement a preparation and planning process. Account Executives who take the time to think through and build out high-value touch points before rushing into mass-emailing will find higher success rates than those who use these tools simply for email automation.
Here’s how top AEs should be preparing and planning to get the most ROI from their Sales engagement tools:
1. Build Out the Specific Cadence Types for Each Buyer
By using ICP documentation, which typically highlights the buyer’s needs and points of interest, we can build out a specific pattern based on the pain points for each buyer types.
In our March 2017 survey of 87 B2B decision-makers, we found that sharing information about the solution which aligned with a company’s problem has almost a 2 to 1 success rate, as opposed to simply quoting statistics or even using heavy personalization in your touch-points.
The buyers in your ICP are looking for you to demonstrate that you understand their problems, more than simply including their name in an emailed demo video.
AEs can put together a series of cadence activities directed towards specific buyer types, including:
- Mid-Level Management
- C-Suite Executives
Proper usage of Sales engagement platforms by AEs starts with proper preparation and planning, including developing cadences that allow you to plug in various key decision-makers and make small tweaks when necessary.
2. Include Time for Cadence Optimization
In large-scale organizations, time is precious. However, it’s crucial that full-cycle AEs work to optimize these cadences continuously, as AEs may put together a cadence that gets run over and over without reviewing the direct results of these touch-points.
For optimized cadences, it takes as little as carving out 30 to 60 minutes every two weeks for Account Executives to see what’s working, and what’s not, making small changes accordingly.
The key to an optimized cadence is ensuring that you’re demonstrating that your organization is aligning with the solution a lead is seeking, which is why AEs need to carefully plan precisely what is included into each unique buyer-type’s cadence.
Now that you’re an Account Executive who is well-informed on how to use your Sales engagement tools for lead generation, how can you use the tool throughout the Sales process?
What we’ve seen within best-practice companies is the development of different cadences, and putting varied decision-makers and influencers in the sales process after the initial meeting. For decision-makers, this might include starting a follow-up email or a brief recap which includes the next steps. When this template is adjustable and customizable depending on the recipient’s position, you can ensure that they’re receiving relevant information highlighted in the meeting, such as:
Security or IT Professionals: Engagement should include three to four touch points over a few weeks (or throughout the month, depending on your sales cycle), and/or sharing similar case studies of other IT leaders who have seen success with your product.
End-User: For end-users, the cadence should include three to five touch points over the course of your sales cycle, highlighting fresh and exciting new features in which industry Leaders are finding value.
With decision-makers, it’s important to highlight how other executives are using a platform or service to drive strategic change and to maintain a competitive advantage over other organizations. AEs at the enterprise and mid-market levels, and to some extent at the transactional level, are not only creating similar buyer type cadences for lead generation, but are also creating cadences for varying decision-makers and influencers throughout the entire sales cycle.
However, one of the most difficult tasks for a modern Account Executive is ensuring that there are multiple touch points with all different influencers within a company. According to Gartner, an average of seven people are involved with a purchasing decision in a typical company of 100 to 500 employees. This means that AEs can’t afford to spend time with just one key decision-maker, but need to make sure that that they’re nurturing and developing relationships with all of the involved influencers.
When you’re a full sales cycle Account Executive, it can be difficult to find the time to create all of these value-add tough points, which is why Sales engagement platforms are so valuable.
These tools allow you to create high-value touch points to multiple people in your sales pipeline, without having to remember myriad follow-ups. Rather, the Sales engagement platform can simply ping those decision-makers and influencers who you’ve lost touch with so that you can focus on what really matters – managing the actual sales cycle itself.
Finally, when a former lead company has become one of your current accounts, many full cycle AEs are responsible for not only for selling, but for nurturing and renewing their accounts. Again, the Sales engagement platform can help you do this, without having to remember all the different follow-up times, or creating new tasks in SalesForce that tend to pile up.
Sales engagement platforms assist AEs in developing follow-ups and high-value touch points for their current accounts, based on that accounts propensity to buy more, or the size of the contract. AEs can then develop cadences that reach out to your accounts on a quarterly, monthly, or bi-weekly basis, based on the organized tier of each specific account:
High-Value Accounts: Send one to two touchpoints per month.
Middle-Tier Accounts: Send out bi-monthly touchpoints.
Transactional Accounts: Develop a cadence that reaches out once a quarter.
With just a few Sales engagement tools and ABM processes, you can automate each specific follow-up time, allowing you to manage varied tiers of accounts effectively without having to remember the last time you followed up with a current customer.
The key to making these cadences successful is ensuring that you have great content that adds value. Your team shouldn’t only focus on touching base or catching up. Instead, focus on creating a stellar cadence that demonstrates an understanding of the buyer’s needs.
For example: every other month, your cadence should include a link to relevant articles that your target decision-maker cares about.
In enterprise deals, you can use some of the same strategies that you would with current accounts as prospects are in the middle of the funnel.
Account Executives s can also use some of the strategies discussed in the mid-funnel process with their current accounts who have multiple decision-makers and influencers, ensuring that your solution is the first that enters their mind when discussing specific problems.
AEs: Use Sales Engagement Platforms to Effectively Manage the Full Sales Cycle
Leading full-cycle AEs are using Sales engagement platforms not only to develop their ABM and outbound demand generation processes, but to effectively manage deals that are active in the pipeline, and current accounts.
Since full-cycle AEs are asked to do much more in their day than a team with specialized resources, implementing a Sales engagement tool throughout your Sales cycle is critical for success.
Technology is quickly revolutionizing the way that AEs not only stay in touch with prospects, but stay in touch with their current clients, adding more time back into your day for high-quality, productive activities. By using a Sales engagement platform full-cycle, AEs no longer have to try and remember a million different activities such as following up with prospects, customers in the pipeline, and current customers – because the Sales engagement tool does the juggling for you.
To learn more about how technology and process-based changes can optimize your organization, you can take a look at our recent blog posts. For more information on our quality Sales engagement templates and resources, get in touch.