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A Look into Sales Engagement with the Co-Founder of InStereo: An Interview with Adam Post

August 20, 2019

InStereo was started with a simple premise: creating a consulting services organization that wasn’t focused on tools and tech, but instead focused on creating the best possible experience for the buyer. They help businesses implement sales engagement programs to personalize the sales experience, ultimately making buyers more likely to buy and the organization likely to earn more revenue.

“I really like working with companies to help them figure out how to grow,” said Adam Post, co-founder of InStereo. “It’s awesome to work with marketing leaders to help put in place new technology that can help their marketing organization better engage with customers.”
Sales and marketing teams within organizations are sometimes at odds with each other. Keeping the customer journey at the forefront of your organization’s mind is the path to B2B sales and marketing alignment. Sales engagement helps with this. Adam took the time to sit down with us and provide insights about marketing technology, including its value, what’s necessary to create effective cadences, how to measure success and the future of sales engagement.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How and why did you start InStereo?

Adam: I’ve been fortunate to work in the consulting [space] for the last 10 years or so. Prior to InStereo I was in a role where we were very focused on technology … We saw a ton of success, but in the back of my mind I knew we were too focused on the tools. There was more we could do to drive the business forward.
My time eventually came to move on. I always knew I had the entrepreneurial bug. I always wanted to start something; I just didn’t know what or when.
I basically got together with my partner, Bill (we worked closely together previously), and we started having a few beers and talking about the good old days. We talked about what things would look like if we could do it all over again. And, as we’re sitting there, we’re like, we’ve got all these great ideas. We know how to do this. Why don’t we just give it a shot and see what happens.
At the end of the day, when you focus on the buyer’s experience, everyone wins. That was the start of InStereo.

What are a couple of talking points I could use to convince stakeholders into investing in Sales Engagement?

The concept of sales engagement as a whole is taking the best aspects of the sales process and scaling them. If we’ve got a star sales rep, and they have a tactic that gains a prospect’s attention and can engage somebody through the buying cycle, how do we replicate that? How can we learn from that and apply those things across the entire sales organization?
That’s what sales engagement allows us to do. We can take that effective sales process and implement it into a system by getting it all connected up with a CRM [platform], and then scale it.
It also allows reps to not worry about who they need to call and what their immediate next steps should be, because it’s all built into the process. The next steps are served up really easily. They can put more energy into researching prospects and make them more likely to engage rather than stressing about all of the emails and calls they need to make.
This methodology goes beyond sales. It can also work for an onboarding experience. You can put all of the communications surrounding renewal and onboarding into a standardized, automated process that you can then personalize.

Which tools are the essentials for small to medium-sized firms?

There’s a few different technologies for a sales and marketing organization that are critical in today’s world. The list goes on and on. But if I were to pick the top few:
  1. A CRM platform. You need a core system that stores all your customer data.
  2. A marketing automation platform. Especially in the B2B space to automate some of those marketing communications so the team can track and take advantage of their touches.
  3. Modern sales organization must have some form of sales engagement in place.

What are the first steps in creating a sales engagement cadence?

First you need to identify the gap in the sales process that you’re trying to fill. The gaps could include a cold prospecting call, immediate responses to an inbound lead, gaps in an opportunity cycle, and even communications to existing customers. Figure out where the cadence would best fit. The most common gap is outbound prospecting, so that’s what I’ll focus on.
It’s essential to know your buyer when you’re making a cadence. Who’s the person that you’re targeting? What do they care about and what do they find valuable? What are the pain points that they’re going to experience in their day to day? Then, just start a dialogue.
It should simply be a conversation between somebody on your sales team and that buyer. It’s not a sales pitch. These messages shouldn’t be three paragraphs about the features of your product or service. It should be a combination of emails, phone calls, social touches (LinkedIn or otherwise) and other channels if need be.
Direct mail handwritten notes can go a long way. A lot of sales engagement tools, like SalesLoft, have direct integrations to tools that send personalized gifts. It’s all a matter of being different and providing something of value. It’s identifying how you can help them in their time of need and finding opportunities to share your services with them.
[The right cadence] will make prospects say, “Hey, you know, I don’t necessarily know this person yet. But what they’re saying is resonating with me. I should probably engage in a conversation.”

What is the best content to create to supplement email nurture cadences?

It depends. It depends on your buyer, their buyer persona and what you determine their needs and wants are. If you’re selling to the C-suite, it’s gonna be very different than selling to a financial analyst.
You have to make sure your content is very, very tailored to the audience that you’re trying to engage with. When it comes to content, I always say there are three questions that need to be answered:
  1. Is the content targeted to the audience?
  2. Is it engaging for the audience?
  3. And will they find it valuable?
If you can’t answer yes to these, then you probably have some work to do. Check those three boxes? Awesome.

Do you have some tips to help align sales and marketing in sales engagement programs?

The way in which we we align sales and marketing is really straightforward. It’s all about creating a buying experience that we all want. It’s essential to get on the same page about who you should be targeting as a business, what their buying experience should be, who should be talking to them and when, what we want the audience to do, and what messages they should receive as they go through the buying cycle.
As you start to define these answers, you can split up what’s a marketing touch point and what’s a sales message. Whether it’s marketing or sales, it shouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, what matters is revenue for the business.
When you think about the experience that is going to drive the most revenue, it becomes easy to change the conversation away from marketing versus sales to a conversation about marketing and sales.

What are some common mistakes you see from organizations during sales engagement implementation? How would you suggest avoiding them?

The most common mistake we see is that companies have unrealistic expectations about what the technology can do for them. They’ll get a sales engagement tool without thinking about the solution and think their business will change. The technology is only one piece of the puzzle.
Along with a strategy and a strong content team in place, you need a leader to own the [sales engagement tool’s adoption]. Someone to be accountable for the success of the programs that are created. This is done by making sure the strategy is sound, making sure you’ve got a solid training program in place and making sure you have great writers to write the content in a way that will actually resonate with your audience.
And if a company doesn’t have all that, then they can call us.

How does one measure sales engagement effectiveness? Are there KPIs to look for? Do the marketing automation KPIs change?

Short answer? Yes.
There are many different places where sales engagement can be used, the most common being outbound prospecting. When we’re thinking about outbound prospecting, KPIs include replies and phone calls that generate interest.
Ultimately, the KPI that matters most is meetings set. If you’re cold prospecting, booking a meeting means that a real conversation was started. That’s the metric that ultimately matters most. If you want to take a step further, you can focus on how many of those meetings turned into qualified opportunities.
You could also take it a step further from that by looking into the actual ROI. What’s the revenue that we’re driving as a result of the sales engagement programs?

Where do you see sales engagement in the coming years?

Sales engagement is going to become a lot smarter.
There’s going to be a lot more AI enabled content, AI enabled workflow, and other programs that allow sales representatives to become much smarter about who they contact, when, how, with what, etc.
Sales engagement is going to expand beyond sales. That’s already begun.
I think there’s going to be a trend that organizations who currently use it will see the value to use it for on-boarding and for customer success. It is beneficial even for finance in other places, right? I mean, there’s a lot of different places where sales engagement can be of value. Really it’s any point that you’re doing any sort of communication with a customer.

This blog is part of the ongoing Brandpoint Interview Series where we talk with marketing professionals about their career, unique perspectives on the industry and some key advice they’ve learned along the way.

August 20, 2019

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