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When Sales Engagement Goes Bad (And How To Avoid It)

January 10, 2017

There’s perhaps no trendier buzzword amongst the B2B sales community than sales engagement. Yet despite all its popularity and focus, few sales professionals are going about engagement the way they need to. To many, engagement means more when it really needs to mean better. More phone calls, more emails, more content, more follow-up, more meeting requests almost always results in a bad outcome: an annoyed—even enraged—customer. And once your customer’s enraged, they’re as good as gone.

So how does the savvy B2B sales professional go about delivering the right sort of engagement?

It Starts with Digital

Think about your customer as a consumer. This is, in fact, what they are outside of the office. They shop on Amazon, use mobile payment tools, and buy via social platforms. They have learned these behaviors in their day-to-day lives and whether they know it or not, they’re starting to expect similar experiences in their professional settings. The B2B sales pro that gets that will be better positioned to engage the way the customer wants to be engaged with. Sales reps need to understand the type of experience their customer expects and the tools and technologies they use. Do they want a steady bombardment of emails? Unlikely. Do they want ideas and insights delivered within the tools they’re already using that can help them do their jobs better? Maybe.

Sales Engagement: Blending Art and Science

Data rules. We’ve seen how data has revolutionized B2B marketing and the same thing is happening with sales. The better data you have around what works to engage a customer, the better success you’re going to see. But data alone can’t power the type of sales engagement we’re talking about. Relationships and trust (you know, the intangibles) still matter in B2B sales. True customer engagement is as much art as it is science. Data will tell you what your customer likely needs and when, but the B2B sales pro that is cognizant of things like context and nuance and variables will deliver engagement that wins.

Read up on why B2B sales relationships aren’t dead and how you can improve yours.

Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes

How much do you love getting pointless phone call after pointless phone call from a sales rep? Do you immediately delete emails that start with “I was just following up…” The more you can understand what your customer’s collective inbox looks like, the better primed you’ll be to cut through the noise and get heard.

Know Your Customer, Know Their Struggles

Sales engagement attempts that have zero relation to what your customer is facing are destined to fail. Actually, they’re destined to do more than fail. The more you can know about your customer, the better you can engage. (Yes, that sounds insanely basic, but it’s true and oft forgotten.) Perhaps the simplest way to accomplish this is to ask. What keeps you up at night? What has the potential to ruin your day? What will make this sort of engagement successful is to strip it of all motivation? Don’t ask what pains your customer because you’ve got an answer for it. Ask because you give a damn.

As the definition of B2B sales engagement continues to evolve, the organizations that are going to see the most out of it are the ones that don’t approach in a salesy way.

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