Sales enablement and sales engagement are similar, yet complementary strategies.

Sales enablement aims to equip teams with the tools, training, and content needed to effectively engage buyers, while sales engagement aims to improve the quality of interactions--or engagements--between buyers and sellers.

But, what exactly, does that mean? And isn’t sales enablement already supposed to “enable” sellers to “engage” with buyers?

In this article, we’ll talk about what sales engagement is, how it differs from sales enablement, and what to look for in a platform.

What is sales engagement?

Before we get into what kinds of features and benefits to look out for, let’s first answer the question, what is sales engagement?

Sales engagement is a term that refers to any interaction between a salesperson and a customer or prospect.

In this context, interactions represent any buyer engagement with an organization's property, which includes everything from downloading an eBook or reading a blog post to booking a demo or contacting a salesperson. It also covers more active selling tactics like meetings, voicemails, and emails.

Considering that interactions encompass a diverse range of activities, “what is a sales engagement platform?” is a logical next question.

So, Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) are integrated software solutions designed to improve the workflows associated with your end-to-end sales process across all sales tools, enabling better buyer engagement through actionable insights, guided selling, and streamlined communications.

While sales engagement software does sound awfully similar to sales enablement platforms, there are some key differences that organizations should be aware of.

Sales engagement vs. sales enablement

Yes, sales engagement and sales enablement both aim to help salespeople close more deals. And yes, both strategies center around preparing sellers for any sales situation. However, the subtle differences matter.

Here’s how the two compare:

Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing effort to improve productivity and sales performance by arming sellers with the right information, knowledge, and best practices to move deals through the pipeline. Sales enablement focuses primarily on giving sellers the resources and support to close deals.

Sales engagement focuses on how improving the customer experience can enhance the sales process. The strategy aims to quantify the substance of buyer-seller relationships, connecting each action to its impact on the pipeline.

How does sales engagement work with sales enablement?

While considering sales engagement vs. sales enablement is useful when trying to understand how they differ, this is a false dichotomy — the two strategies work best when used together.

You might think of sales enablement as a partner for sales engagement. The strategy seeks to align internal processes, implement the right tools, and eliminate data silos that prevent salespeople from selling efficiently.

Traditionally, sales enablement focuses on these core areas:

  • Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding the right people.
  • Developing an ongoing training and coaching program.
  • Implementing the tools needed to sell effectively.
  • Measuring the impact of training, content, and strategies on deals and revenue.

Sales engagement, then, is phase two.

You’ve got your internal framework in place — accessible information, knowledge, and a system for measuring sales activities against things like quota attainment and pipeline velocity. Sales engagement turns the focus toward external activities, helping salespeople communicate effectively with prospects and guide them along the buyer journey.

Typically sales engagement strategies cover the following areas:

  • Converting sales leads to opportunities through various outreach methods including call, email, video, and voicemail campaigns.
  • Providing a simple and efficient way to track all outreach and engagement.
  • Readily available sales collateral to share with prospects and customers in various sales scenarios.

Sales engagement software drives meaningful engagements

Sales engagement platforms streamline all prospect communications including email, video, and voice, allowing you to combine customer information and tasks from multiple platforms into a unified dashboard view.

With integrated communications, sellers can create targeted messaging sequences called “cadences” that help them reach prospects more effectively, allowing them to track and monitor results at the campaign level, rather than via individual channels like emails sent or calls made.

For best results, you’ll want to look for sales engagement software that offers the following communication capabilities:

  • Support for all communication channels. The basic three are email, voice, and video, but some platforms also offer additional channels like social media and web chat through integrations.
  • CRM integration. Integration with the CRM allows users to see a complete record of all communications, alongside transactional data, account notes, and sales reports.
  • Easy access to sales collateral. Integrated communication tools should also extend to sales presentations, allowing users to drive customer engagement with branded, interactive content in multiple formats. Integrating with sales content management solutions like sales enablement platforms allows sellers to easily share relevant content with prospects and track it’s journey.

Combine sales enablement data with engagement analytics

Many sales engagement platforms offer dynamic reporting tools that measure the efficacy of customer interactions through dashboards, data visualizations, and activity logs. The main benefit here is that users now have a holistic view of all data related to the customer journey. This allows sales teams to identify at-risk deals, track campaign performance, and measure the impact of content and communication tactics against traditional sales metrics.

Typical features include:

  • Intuitive reporting. Sales engagement solutions allow users to determine which metrics matter to them, then limit reports to a few key data points. Sellers are enabled to make quick decisions without the added distraction of irrelevant data, and can immediately put insights to work.
  • Comprehensive customer engagement records. SEP integration with communication channels, CRMs, and other connected data sources offers a big-picture view. This allows sellers to quickly spot promising leads and opportunities for follow-up, while sales managers can identify at-risk deals and weaknesses they want to address in video coaching sessions.
  • Identify gaps & opportunities in the customer journey. Engagement analytics allow sales and marketing teams to identify content gaps and opportunities at specific touchpoints. They’ll also be able to see which assets move deals forward and which ones don’t quite align with the buyer’s needs at a particular stage.
  • Holistic view of all sales outreach. Engagement platforms track every call, email, and any other form of outreach giving sales managers a holistic view of the activity of each member of their sales team.

Sales engagement tools unify content, communications, and the CRM

Sales engagement platforms act as a coordinator for all connected sources, powering the sales engagement strategy by delivering both content and engagement insights into the CRM platform, leading to better interactions with buyers.

Think of sales engagement software as a layer on top of your CRM software, enhancing its utility in the following ways:

  • Centralized, intelligent workspace. CRM integrations allow sellers to manage customer records, access training content, and manage their communication strategy from one location. By bringing more data into the main workspace, sellers now have more information at their disposal, allowing for smarter, faster decision-making.
  • Measure ROI. Combine engagement and content usage analytics with traditional sales metrics. This way, organizations can quantify the impact of content and communications and tie those efforts to win rates and customer retention.
  • Connect the most effective content to sales workflows. By connecting sales records with content and engagement data, sales engagement software enables smarter content recommendations and uses them to inform sellers’ daily workflows.

In sales engagement, integrations are everything

While sales engagement software offers its own set of standalone benefits, its real game-changing potential comes from its ability to create a seamless sales process by connecting disparate sales and marketing tools, databases, content repositories, and whatever else your team might use in their day-to-day.

At the end of March 2020, we added Bigtincan for SalesLoft to our integrations roster, allowing sales teams an even more granular view of how customer engagement impacts the bottom line and seamlessly combines sales communications and cadences with the content and analytics in the Hub.

Click here to contact our team to learn more about our SalesLoft integration.