Customer Engagement and its Role in Sales Enablement

Just back from an amazing Sales Enablement Society Conference in Denver. Two days packed with fantastic presentations, workshops, experience rooms and lots of networking within the global sales enablement tribe.

I led a very well-received session, “Customer Engagement: Solving the Gap Between Buyer Preferences and Seller Behaviors.” I shared a preview of our upcoming 2018 Sales Enablement Study (available soon for study participants and research members) that also contained specific customer engagement questions.

Today, in the first part of this series, let me share what customer engagement is, how it fits into sales enablement and why getting this right is so crucial to achieve the desired results.

Customer engagement covers the way organizations and their customer-facing professionals get in touch with their customers along their entire customer’s path.

Customer engagement is not a marketing issue only, it is not a sales issue only, and it is not a service issue only. Customer engagement can only be effective if it is tackled from the customers’ perspective, from their customer’s path. And that means we have to understand their buyer and customer preferences. As regular readers of our sales enablement research know, we always recommend making the customers and specifically the customer’s path the primary design point of sales enablement. It’s the main reason why our sales enablement clarity model has the customer facet at the top.

Customer engagement’s main goal is for customers and buyers to perceive every interaction, whether with or without human interaction, as relevant, valuable and differentiating.

Yes, it’s more than being valuable. “Valuable” depends not only on the buyer’s perspective but also on the buyer’s current stage along their customer’s path. And that’s what we mean by “relevant.” A high-level, business-challenge-oriented presentation resonates in the early awareness phases of the customer’s path to build a shared vision of future success. However, it is not necessarily the right piece of content for the last rounds of negotiations. Being relevant means that the messaging, the content and the conversation have to be tailored to the buyer roles and the buyers’ current state along their customer’s path. The third attribute is “differentiating,” and that means that the messaging, the engagement approach, and the provided expertise and perspective should always be differentiating, and not perceived as a competitor’s copy. Additionally, being differentiating also requires an authentic sales professional.

Customer engagement’s role within sales enablement is a means to an end. Doing great at customer engagement is a prerequisite to be effective with sales enablement.

If you look back at sales enablement’s definition and goals, then you know that engaging, equipping and empowering customer-facing professionals to be valuable, relevant and differentiating in every customer interaction is how sales enablement drives predictable sales results. And as we have seen here, engaging customers the way they want to be engaged is, for sales enablement, a means to an end. If the goal of effective customer engagement cannot be achieved, sales enablement won’t be able to achieve its own goals, which are usually aligned with the sales leader’s goals.

If you want to map customer engagement to the facets of our sales enablement clarity model, look at the facets Customer, Effective Enablement Services and Customer-Facing Professionals and Their Managers together.

Customer engagement requires tailored content and sales professionals who are equipped accordingly and developed with the right skills and methods and coached by their managers along those lines.

As a sneak preview of our upcoming report: We asked the more than 500 global participants if they effectively align their enablement services to the customer’s path: 42.0% agreed, and 58.0% answered neutral or disagreed.

Setting the foundation for effective customer engagement pays off. The 42.0% who practice this alignment experienced 8.1% better win rates compared to the study’s average.


Stay tuned, we will soon talk more about customer engagement, the different practices and how training and coaching contribute to effective customer engagement.


Questions for you:

  • Who is responsible for customer engagement in your organization?
  • How do you define customer engagement in your organization?
  • What are your lessons learned so far from an enablement perspective?


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