We’re all creatures of habit, but when it comes to certain marketing practices, we’re better at leaving the old behind and taking up with the new. Automated Email Engagement Solutions (like our in-house Smart Engagement we use at IKO), are the fresh face in the realm of lead engagement, and they’re already causing quite a stir. But what exactly makes an Automated Email Solution better than the other options? Is it right for your business? To help you get the lowdown, we’re talking about how and why these systems can work for you.
What is an Automated Email Engagement Solution?
Automated Email Engagement Solutions are cloud-based softwares designed for use in sales departments to effectively engage qualified leads. These platforms regulate, schedule, and deliver targeted email scenarios to prospects based upon criteria determined by sales reps.
Reps select relevant email sequences based upon the buyer persona and user history of the lead or leads. Should a rep want to make last-minute customizations to the scenario, he or she is able to alter every aspect of the delivery. From date, time, frequency, and content, Smart Engagement is responsive at every phase of the cycle.
Because the Automated Email Engagement platform streamlines the lead prospecting and lead management process, sales reps have more time to sell to qualified leads with the tools they need. This means sales reps are able to trigger conversations and meetings, sometimes without having to rely on nurturing from Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP).
Why is this Important?
Companies too reliant upon inbound lead generation have little to no control over their sales pipeline, nor do they have very clear sales visibility. While traditional outbound methods like cold calling and cold emailing are helpful, they’re often not nearly as effective as organizations would like them to be. We’ll explore why below.
Today, 59% of companies report longer sales cycles, says a OneSource Sales Pulse Survey. The self-educated consumer of today has less of an impetus to buy unless they’re well and ready – hence the quality of drip inbound campaigns. But a nurturing campaign can starve your bottom line and leave salespeople fiendish for meaningful voices on the end of a call. Or, more frustrating still, sales reps are relegated to prospecting through a mass of largely worthless leads.
On average, sales reps spend 22% of their time selling. And what’s more, Pace Productivity also found that 23% of their total time was being spent on administrative tasks. Yes, each lead must be managed, organized, and developed; but, this is a full-time job on its own while using a MAP. Let’s look at a typical process for a sales rep who doesn’t use Automated Email Engagement:
– Lead identification and prequalification before reach-out (using various sources), including hunting around for email address, phone number, etc.
– Use found data to build lists or manually input into CRM
– Prioritize who to call first (based on judgement)
– Make an AWAF (are we a fit) call if you can get ahold of a prospect on the first try – if not, make follow-up call attempts using different tactics/number/timing
– Put tasks in Salesforce, etc.
– Refer to Salesforce tasks to send a deluge of follow-up emails
– Reach weekly call quota
With a daily plate like this, it’s no wonder sales reps can have a hard time reaching the right leads. According to CSO Insights, 27% of reps say that an over-long sales cycle is a major factor for sales effectiveness. From this, we understand that sales reps are not only being worn down, but are missing out on qualified leads because they can’t keep up with the daily inefficiencies. From disparate tracking systems, a clunky interface, to tasks spread between tools that cannot be synchronized, there’s a real headache for reps.
Here’s some research from Marketo on immediate benefits of more sales time:
– 5% increase in selling time that can yield a 20% increase in revenue
– 1% increase in pipeline value that can yield a 25% increase in revenue
Solutions like Smart Engagement allow sales reps both the time and the option to pursue leads efficiently. Freed from the busy work usually involved in prospecting work, reps can send automated and targeted email engagement scenarios to qualified leads, or they might engage leads throughout the entire funnel with channel-specific, multi-touch strategies to further buying relationships. What’s more, reps can make warm calls to leads that show immediate promise, schedule a demo, and move towards a sales opportunity directly.
Having sales reps selling and following up efficiently is the direct route to helping them hit their targets. Reps need to effectively engage new leads while being free to send emails and make important calls. Within the Smart Engagement model, this typically precarious balance is easily handled by the software interface. To engage new leads, 30 minutes is all that’s needed to design and specify criteria, click and send an engagement sequence to a variety of new prospects.
When it’s time to follow up, reps are free to handle this response personally or engage another automated scenario depending upon the buyer’s circumstance. Ultimately, this returns a great deal of time to the sales department for making calls.
While all the leads are within the automated platform, there’s absolute visibility for the sales department. Each rep knows who needs to receive what material, how close or far each lead is away from taking a discovery call, or whether they need further email engagement before another AWAF call.
This also puts the sales reps, rather than the marketing department, in charge of their own materials. When efficiently engaging leads, sales is able to select and adapt the appropriate materials based upon each individual lead. This ensures that each lead is getting what they want.
Sales Benchmark Index research shows us that 70% of buyers prefer to work digitally. With much of the grunt work being done over email, the ability to pinpoint decision makers is another fundamental benefit to email automation processes. The idea here is that the technology processes the grunt work, freeing the salespeople to drive conversions with executives at the opportune moments.
Targeted, Smart Email
Smart Engagement brings warm email to the table. Instead of sending waves of cold emails at prospects and getting minimal ROI, the new solution enables your organization to pinpoint lists and individuals with hyper-relevant messaging which arrives in meeting-conducive patterns that you select. This way, you’re engaging the people that you want to engage, when they want to be engaged, in the way they want to engaged. Being efficient with this allows your sales department to set consistent meetings with late-stage leads en masse.
According to Vorsight, sales reps are 46% more likely to be successful when they reach a director, and 148% more likely to be successful when they reach a VP. Finding the decision makers is no mystery when Smart Engagement goes to work. Sales reps stay with top-tier leads from engagement scenario, first call, to closing the deal.
Managing Sales with Data
Collecting data from the point of sales is always necessary to making sure productivity stays up and quotas are met. Hunches and guesswork aren’t enough. With an Automated Email Platform you can see how many emails have been sent, open rates, click through rates, and ultimately, sales generated. This makes measuring engagement scenarios easy. Information like call attempts, connections, length of call, and outcome can be leveraged against these numbers to provide vivid understandings of how your scenarios are working within specific segments – or where tweaks are needed. Call notes, appointments set and kept, and basic information is easily tracked. Raw sales intelligence will further inform your best practices.
Ultimately, Automated Email Engagement solutions like Smart Engagement can provide a great deal of value for those looking to facilitate an efficient sales process with targeted email triggers. Sales reps being able to host, access, and alter engagement scenarios s incredibly empowering. Having an empowered sales team is great, especially when we consider how much time is saved by cutting out their daily nurturing and prospecting efforts. With Automated Email Engagement Solutions in hand, the sales department feels like a sales department again. They have the leads they want and the tools to engage the meetings you need.