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2 Must-Read Sales Engagement Trends for 2019

Guest post by Jake Dunlap, CEO @ Skaled
As the CEO of Skaled, I had the privilege to work with 120 different companies in 2018 alone. We’ve rolled up our sleeves on 60 different SDR outbound overhauls and hundreds of deployments of sales engagement software. This experience has provided me with fresh insights into how organizations are winning, as well as where the greatest opportunities are right now.
I’m going to distill all of that data down to the two sales engagement trends that I think everyone needs to pay the most attention to in 2019.
The 2 Sales Engagement Trends for 2019

Trend #1: Overhauling Our KPIs

As sales leaders, how are we measuring the impact of sales engagement?
When a phone was the only method to connect with prospects, volume was THE metric. Number of dials per day translated to performance. There was a time when email wasn’t used to nurture and convert sales. The concept of multi-touch attribution – and email, for that matter – didn’t exist yet.
Then came high-speed internet and, by 2015, everyone was able to send emails en masse. What a concept!
Thus began the race to see who could do “more.” More dials, phone time, emails sent… all of these activity-based metrics by which a salesperson’s success was measured. Who cares how many meetings an SDR set when they only made 20 calls today, right? Wrong.
“More” does equal saturation. Approximately 269 billion emails were sent in 2018 between businesses and consumers, and that number is predicted to grow by 4.4% in 2019. However, “more” does not equal effective.
To put it simply, more just isn’t working.
Looking to the future, the way that we judge the effectiveness has to move toward outcomes. We’re asking our teams to perform more non-direct response activities. These are value-add activities that allow salespeople to truly engage and partner with prospects and customers.
For example, if your team is struggling to convert contacts into opportunities, take a step back and examine your engagement strategy through the lens of personalization and relevancy. High-volume touch does not equate high-quality engagement. Context is everything.
Could you start measuring eight meaningful connections every day instead of 60 activities? I believe it is feasible.
TL;DR: Fixating on and rewarding for meaningful connections that focus on outcomes versus volume is sales engagement trend number one.
Trends in sales engagement

Trend #2: LinkedIn is Changing the Game

It’s shocking to me how little value we place on a thorough, targeted LinkedIn strategy.
As sales leaders, we review email copy call scripts. We do what it takes to drive toward numbers. Why do we still view LinkedIn as merely an extra little thing reps do? We’re (de)prioritizing the single most impactful platform for B2B communication as a “nice to have” instead of giving it the respect and attention it deserves.
It should be clear by now that an omnichannel approach is necessary for 2019. An omnichannel approach delivers a seamless experience for your customers. Noticing a trend here? In fact, companies with a strong omnichannel customer engagement experience retain, on average, 89% of their customers. Compare that with the 33% retention rate of companies with weak omnichannel strategies.

89%

Let that sink in. What would an 89% retention rate mean for your business?
Building rapport on LinkedIn fosters relationships, both new and old. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to how your customers perceive your team’s LinkedIn presence.
Did you know that 64% of corporate website visits originate from LinkedIn? I’m not talking about social referral traffic. I’m talking about all traffic. Over half of B2B website visitors are coming directly from the social network. The value should speak volumes to you if you are serious about growing your business.
Maybe some of you are already embracing LinkedIn and empowering your team to utilize the platform. But how do you most effectively enable your team?
Coach them on how to optimize their profiles. Teach your sales reps to share ideas and content that is relevant to your buyers. Do you think your buyer cares that you are an award-winning sales leader or that Johnny made president’s club? They don’t.
LinkedIn is no longer merely a place to look for a job. It’s a place to share knowledge.
Make sure the profiles of your sales team speak to the right audience. Then, encourage your team to be active on the site. Lead by example, developing genuine relationships and engage in real conversations. Share unique content. LinkedIn posts are more simple to produce than a blog post. A 200-word LinkedIn article or post without an image can actually perform extremely well on the site.
LinkedIn is going to be a beast for engaging with buyers and setting appointments. It already is for those who are using it effectively. Don’t be left behind.
TL;DR: Giving LinkedIn the attention it deserves in 2019 is sales engagement trend number two.

Conclusion

I am platform agnostic. I’m not married to LinkedIn and will not cry if, years ahead, LinkedIn loses its steam. My needs are simple. To be able to make connections, build relationships, drive sales, and engage with buyers regardless of the sales flavor of the moment.
Here’s what I know. Results-Based Management will continue to gain speed in the next couple of years. LinkedIn is where people are winning today. This is what is working right now.
Change the way you measure your sales team’s effectiveness by starting with outcomes and getting involved on LinkedIn. Think buyer first, resume second.
These are my top Sales Engagement tends for 2019. I hope to connect with you at Rainmaker, if not before on LinkedIn.


To hear more sales insights from Jake Dunlap and others, join us at Rainmaker – the sales engagement conference – March 11-13 in Atlanta. On day 1, Jake will lead an interactive workshop, Level Up, where you learn to level-up and standout to your prospects. He will also present additional trend insights in a session, Sales Engagement: Now and The Future, on day 2.
Jake has developed and led high-performing sales and operational functions for 2000 global organizations and start-ups, specializing in building out repeatable sustainable processes. As CEO and Founder of Skaled, Jake helps companies optimize their sales processes using the latest sales technologies to accelerate growth.
Learn more and purchase tickets here.
Rainmaker 2019