Let's be honest, sales is difficult.
To become a successful salesperson you have to have the right mindset, a thick skin, and a willingness to try new tactics and strategies. This is true for both inside salespeople and their field sales counterparts.
These days, one of the top strategies is sales engagement – especially for field sales reps. Keep reading to learn what field sales engagement is, how it differs from sales enablement, how to implement an effective sales engagement strategy, and a whole lot more.
What is field sales engagement?
Field sales engagement is the process of engaging potential buyers in face-to-face conversations that move them closer to a sale. When it's conducted properly, field sales engagement increases productivity and customer loyalty, while minimizing time to revenue.
Unsurprisingly, most sellers agree that field sales engagement is much easier to perform with the help of a sales engagement software solution.
G2 defines sales engagement software as a tool that "streamlines the sales process through integrations with sales communication channels and tools, management of sales messaging and materials, and automation of tasks, messages and workflows."
In other words, sales engagement software provides sellers with a digital interface that they can use to efficiently plan, execute, track, measure, and optimize their interactions with customers across multiple touchpoints and channels.
Sales engagement vs. sales enablement
It's important to note the differences between sales engagement and sales enablement – two often confused terms that represent two completely different things.
Whereas sales engagement is the process of engaging potential customers in sales conversations through a variety of different channels, sales enablement is the act of providing sales teams with materials they can use to close more deals.
For example, sales managers who exhibit sales enablement best practices might work to create top-notch sales content – like case studies and white papers – to help their sales teams increase sales numbers. Or invest in a quality field sales engagement tool so that their teams can build better relationships with their target markets.
With these things in mind, here are a few key features you should look for in the field sales engagement software you choose to use.
6 key features of field sales engagement tools
What makes for the perfect field sales engagement tool? Ask 10 different sales reps that question and you'll probably get 10 different answers. But most can agree that the following six features are must-haves when it comes to engagement software for sales reps.
1. Multichannel communication
Modern sellers need to connect with their prospects in multiple ways in order to build relationships with them and keep their interest.
A sales engagement software that doesn't help facilitate phone calls, text messages, emails, and face-to-face meetings won't be effective. Make sure the field sales engagement tool you invest in supports multichannel communication.
2. Mobile enabled
True to their name, most field sales reps spend a majority of their time away from the office. That's why it's imperative that the sales engagement tool they use is mobile enabled. When sellers can effectively strategize, easily implement tactics, and accurately track results on the go, they'll be much more successful.
3. Content management
The word "content" is usually used in a marketing context. After all, marketers are typically the ones creating resources like blog posts, case studies, and podcast episodes – i.e. the materials most of us think of as "content".
But the truth is, sales reps need content, too. A quality sales enablement platform will allow sellers to create email templates, integrate their calendars so that prospects can easily schedule meetings, and distribute marketing collateral.
4. Automation capabilities
While the need for multichannel communication is real, field reps don't have time to regularly connect with each and every one of their prospects on every possible channel. Fortunately, sales engagement software makes it easy to automate communication based on predetermined guidelines. Send follow-up emails and texts on autopilot and watch your productivity go through the roof!
5. Sales performance insights
Data is the lifeblood of most modern businesses. Without accurate metrics, it's difficult to make decisions and optimize sales strategy. The best sales engagement tools will feature in-depth analytics dashboards that enable customized reports. That way sellers always have the information they need to attract high-quality prospects and close more deals.
6. Easy CRM integration
Lastly, the sales engagement solution you use should integrate seamlessly with your CRM software of choice. Manually transporting details between applications is tedious and unnecessary. Let technology work for you and invest in a field sales app that can communicate with your current tools.
If the field sales engagement software you're considering doesn't include the above features, we encourage you to look for another option.
5 ways sales engagement supports field sales reps
We've talked about what sales engagement software can (and should!) do. Now let's dive deeper into why this kind of tool is beneficial to sellers. How can a field sales engagement solution support field reps? Here are five potential ways...
1. Increased visibility
Sales engagement software helps give sellers a complete, bird's eye view of their efforts. With this kind of tool, they can easily evaluate their tactics against the real-world results they achieve. This knowledge can then be used to adjust strategy. Increased visibility ensures field sales reps consistently focus on the right prospects at the right times and make the most of their hours on the clock.
2. Improved time management
In a similar vein, field sales engagement tools can also help sellers better manage their time. When you're able to easily see which prospects are the highest value (in a business sense), you can prioritize your communications with them. By focusing on the leads that show the greatest purchase intent, you'll be able to boost your productivity and close deals at a much faster clip.
3. Communication alignment
Earlier we mentioned the importance of a multichannel communication strategy to field sales associates. But if the messages you send via text don't align with your emails and phone conversations, your multichannel approach will actually do more harm than good.
Communication alignment is much easier when using sales engagement software because all potential messages can be seen from the same interface. Additionally, emails and texts can be crafted to work in conjunction, then automated to send at optimal times. This allows sellers to give their prospects a cohesive experience that gently guides them from stranger to paying customer in the most direct way possible.
4. Improved buyer experience
Continuing off of our last point, sales engagement software improves the buyer experience in multiple ways. For example, it can help create:
- Cohesiveness: Like we mentioned above, messages can be written and scheduled to work in conjunction with each other.
- Clarity: When all communications contain the same general information and/or themes, potential customers will gain clarity, which will lead to more sales.
- Timeliness: With sales engagement software, you can schedule your messages (or schedule call reminders) at any time, ensuring your communications reach your target audience at the perfect time, every time.
- Control: A multichannel approach will allow prospects to feel a sense of control because they can choose the channel they use to respond to sales messages. Control makes potential customers feel more comfortable and willing to make purchases.
- Information: Lastly, the more information you have access to, the better experience you can provide for your prospects. Sales engagement tools provide deep insights into target markets that can be mined and used to great effect.
The buying experience you provide for your leads will literally make or break the sale. Use a sales engagement software to craft more enjoyable experiences for your leads and watch as your sales numbers begin to skyrocket.
5. Better lead prioritization
Last, but certainly not least, a sales engagement platform will help you better prioritize your leads. Lead prioritization is important for all sellers. Your productivity levels will explode when you focus on your highest-value prospects.
But properly prioritizing leads is especially crucial for field reps because of the additional time and costs associated with outside sales. Use a sales engagement tool to determine which of your leads is most likely to buy. Then add them to your route so that your drive time, gas money, etc isn't wasted. This level of efficiency will help you reach your full potential as an outside seller.
Implementing a sales engagement strategy
A field sales engagement tool will only benefit you if you use it to implement a sales engagement strategy. Here's how:
1. Choose your channels
The first step is to decide which communication channels you'll actually use. While phone calls, text messages, emails, and in-person visits are available to most every outside seller, not all target audiences want to be contacted in all of these ways. The key is to discover the right communication channels for your unique prospects. That way you can contact them in the way(s) they prefer.
Just don't get too focused on a single channel, even if it's the most effective. Unless your prospects express annoyance when contacted in certain ways, a multichannel approach, as we mentioned before, is almost always beneficial because it will allow you to reach potential customers in different ways and constantly keep your company top of mind.
In a nutshell, what you want to do is:
- Identify every potential channel your target audience uses.
- Assess ease of use and potential ROI of each channel.
- Add a few channels to your sales engagement strategy that strike an effective balance between prospect preference, ease of use, and potential ROI.
By following these three steps, you'll be able to narrow down your list of potential communication channels to the few that will actually work for your goals.
2. Design a touchpoint cadence
Once you know how you'll contact your prospects, you need to decide how often you'll do so. There's no right or wrong answer here. Some field sales reps cap their touchpoints at three, others develop massive, in-depth sales engagement strategies that include 30+ touchpoints.
But in general, most sellers will agree that the number of touchpoints required to make a sale in the 21st century is going up. Modern consumers are harder to sell to than ever before. This is likely because of the constant barrage of advertisements and sales pitches they encounter on a daily basis. It's made us all a bit wary.
You need to combat this by developing a touchpoint cadence that works for your unique audience. Here's an example cadence you might try:
- Day 1: Meet in person
- Day 2: Follow up email
- Day 5: LinkedIn Connection
- Day 7: Phone call + voicemail
- Day 9: Second follow up email
- Day 10: Follow up text message
- Day 14: Follow up in-person meeting
In this example, you would contact your prospect a total of seven times in a 14-day span, which is pretty aggressive. You may decide that a more subtle approach, like the one outlined below, is a better fit for your prospects:
- Day 1: In-person meeting + follow up email
- Day 4: Second follow up email
- Day 7: Social media connection
- Day 10: Follow up phone call + voicemail
- Day 14: Third follow up email
- Day 17: Follow up text message
- Day 21: Follow up phone call + email
Remember, the above cadences are just suggestions. You'll need to customize them to suit your specific prospects and their wants/needs. Additionally, every communication you send should be personalized to its recipient. This means that detailed prospect research is mandatory.
3. Ensure prospect information is accessible
As a field rep, you don't always have access to your computer. After all, you spend a large portion of your day outside of your office. If your sales software can't be used on a mobile device, you won't be able to access the prospect information you need to consistently make sales. That's why a mobile enabled field sales engagement tool is a must-have.
A mobile enabled tool will also help ensure accurate CRM records because you can input data as you uncover it rather than at the end of the day. Who wants to do data entry after just completing an eight hour shift? The answer is nobody, which is why CRM records can quickly become outdated for field sales teams. This common problem ceases to be an issue when mobile enabled sales tools are used.
4. Create message templates
Personalization is key to modern sales. But unless you only have a dozen leads in your pipeline, writing individual messages to each of your prospects is simply unrealistic. Fortunately, sales engagement software will allow you to create and save message templates that can be easily modified to appear personal, then automated to send at any time.
When creating your own email templates, keep these things in mind:
- Know your audience: The only way to write effective templates is to know the audience you plan to send them to. What are their needs and how does your product or service help solve them? If you consider your recipients when writing your emails and texts, your efforts will be more successful.
- Nail your subject line: The average office worker receives 121 emails a day. Most don't have time to read every message, so they look at subject lines to determine which emails require their immediate attention. Make your subject lines concise, specific, and personal to increase your open rate.
- Emphasize value: Once a prospect opens your email, you have to make it worth their while – and quickly. If your message doesn't grab attention in the first five seconds, it'll score a one-way ticket to the trash bin. One of the best ways to grab attention is to emphasize the value your products bring to the table.
- Test and optimize: If we're being honest, your first attempt to create message templates probably won't go very well. That's okay as long as you commit to improving your results. What worked and what didn't? Adjust your emails accordingly. Then repeat the entire process. Eventually, you'll learn to write winning messages.
Message templates will allow you to continually engage with many different prospects in a productive way and increase sales for your company.
Steer clear of these sales engagement mistakes
All sellers are prone to mistakes. Here are a few sales engagement ones to steer clear of.
1. Not properly prioritizing leads
When you properly prioritize your leads, you'll be able to focus on the prospects who are the closest to making a purchase. This is especially important for field sales reps who meet with prospects in person. You don't want to spend your time traveling to a lead, just to learn that they never really intended to buy anything from you. Talk about a waste of time!
To prioritize your leads, look at the analytics in your field sales engagement tool of choice and find prospects who consistently open your emails and read your texts, visit your company's website, download free resources, and more.
2. Not keeping your strategy up-to-date
Your sales strategies need to be updated on a regular basis. Prospect needs and preferences change. If you don't change your approach to match, your sales engagement efforts will become less and less effective. Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry and regularly consult your field sales engagement software's analytics to determine what's working right now.
Engage your leads
Sales engagement technology will allow you to use multiple channels to engage with buyers in personalized ways. Just make sure that the tool you invest in has the features you need to close deals. Once you've locked down a software, you can implement a sales engagement strategy that includes the four steps we outlined in this article:
- Choose your channels
- Design a touchpoint cadence
- Ensure prospect information is accessible
- Create message templates
Now it's your turn. Use the information we've shared to create a sales engagement strategy of your own and boost your sales to new heights.