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What I Wish I Knew: Sales Sequencing Software

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We asked, and you answered! RevOps Co-op community members weighed in on platforms like Outreach, Apollo, Northbeam, and Dialpad, with Salesforce, HubSpot, and also offering similar functionality.

Sales sequencing, activation, or engagement software (we'll stick with "sales engagement software" from here on out) is any platform that gives sales access to interactions with people at scale. These platforms typically offer sequences or playbooks that sales teams use to create an organized sequence of activities that may span email, phone, social media, and text. 

So, what do RevOps professionals wish they knew before getting sales engagement software?

Implementation isn't a breeze.

Don't let your company's sales team or the vendor's sales team tell you that implementing and maintaining sales engagement software will be easy. According to our team of experts, it's much more complicated to set up and maintain than most people realize.

Jeremy Steinbring, Founder of RevOnyx, started us off strong with the following take:

I wish I knew the level of sophistication and planning needed before implementing a tool like Outreach. Most of these tools are, in essence, CRMs themselves, so adding them to an already complex tech stack can be tricky. Record ownership between SFDC and Outreach, for example, was not in lockstep, causing messages to be sent from the wrong sales rep.

Ownership and permissions don't just impact sender rules. Lance Thompson, Technical Sales Operations Manager at Seekout, said:

If record accessibility is locked down, your inside sales reps may be unable to do anything. For example, if the AE owns the account and contact inherits account ownership, the SDR can't do much without open sharing rules..Also, if you forget to create collections to give reps access to sequences and content, people may not use the content that's the most effective. 

Systems setup isn't a minor task. A lot of thought needs to go into how these systems are integrated with your CRM. Which updates in your sales engagement system should override the values in your CRM? Who is in charge of keeping the field settings and rules in sync with your CRM configuration?

Camela Thompson, RevOps veteran and Head of Marketing at the RevOps Co-op, said:

Two values were used in rulesets and the integration mapping that weren't input correctly in Outreach, causing data synchronization with Salesforce to fail because the 'picklist value was invalid.' The sales team then decided to switch to Apollo, which came with a slew of other issues. The person who set it up didn't realize that they enabled a setting that created a new person record every time an activity was logged. 
No matter how tiny your company is and how busy you are, do not - under any circumstance - let your sales leader run with setup and maintenance or monitoring! Lesson learned.

Any system that has a bidirectional sync with your CRM should be managed by the same people who oversee the CRM. It's the only way to prevent the two systems from getting out of sync and things being implemented incorrectly—and then not being caught before a lot of damage is done.

Bad messaging at massive scale is harmful to your brand.

Sales engagement software leverages a loophole in email management systems and legislation that allows for single or one-off email sends to people who have not opted into communication with your company. In theory (and sometimes in practice), a salesperson can put thousands of people in a sequence and contact a large chunk of your database in a day.

Camela Thompson, RevOps veteran and Head of Marketing at the RevOps Co-op, said:

It's unrealistic for a person with zero practical experience selling to your target audience to hit the right note when selling a highly technical product in their first few months on the job. It's simply impossible. So why do B2B businesses regularly give the job of mass communication to the least experienced people? It's mind-blowing.

It's normal for sales to cringe when marketing wants to take control of writing emails. Marketing people tend to be verbose, and that drives salespeople crazy. But the teams must strike a healthy balance, and sales managers must be in lockstep with marketing. Marketing messaging will improve with sales feedback and data – and if they collaborate with sales management prior to rolling out the sequences, the inside sales team will start with solid content. 

Alternatively, sales teams can work with an analyst to quickly determine which sales-authored emails are the most impactful and help them improve on a limited collection of content. Ideally, successful sales representatives draft these initial emails, and the data is analyzed weekly to determine how to change or create new sequences.

Jeremy Steinbring, Founder of RevOnyx, agreed that content creation can't be a free-for-all:

We should've focused on and controlled what we sent and to whom we sent it. Everyone creating their own sequences, enrolling contacts not synced with our CRM, and shotgunning messages 100 times over created a lot of noise.

We are shifting to a world of highly relevant and incredibly personalized messaging with the use of AI. Regular email sequences (unless they are super focused on a small group of people) will become antiquated in my opinion.

Ownership and permissions don't just impact sender rules. Lance Thompson, Technical Sales Operations Manager at Seekout, said:

You can train sales and lock down who can author content, but every salesperson will still want to craft their own sequences. 

Regular analysis should be mandatory for any team with a tool that allows a large volume of communication to be pushed to target accounts.

 ​​Andréa Faria, RevOps Professional at Daloopa, added:

Even the best engagement platforms in the market will give miserable results if you don't have the best engagement data to back it up.

If a team is responsible for generating business, it only makes sense to evaluate their effectiveness regularly—and that must include email performance monitoring if you give them a mass emailing tool.

Mass scale can destroy your domain.

Marketers are now forced to adhere to GDPR and CASL regulations. The major marketing automation systems are very strict about what is and is not allowed. A marketer still purchasing lists and spamming an audience must work hard to break the law.

The same guardrails aren't in place for salespeople, and this can cause many problems beyond just one person's email account being suspended.

Camela Thompson, RevOps veteran and Head of Marketing at the RevOps Co-op, said:

If you haven't throttled the number of email sends per person per day in your sales engagement software, do it now. If you use Gmail as an email service provider, a high volume of emails with more than three spam reports out of 1,000 sent messages puts you at risk. You're risking locking down deliverability for every single person and automated system in your company. If you use Microsoft, you're not as at risk, but this one-off loophole's days are numbered.

Domain deliverability is vital. Most marketing email subscriptions are still a very effective way to stay top of mind for your target audience. As importantly, if your domain is blacklisted or flagged by your provider, your CEO will end up in SPAM, and your accounts receivable department can't access essential communications.

There isn't a great way to measure whether your emails are landing in junk mail, so throttle your sales engagement software's email sends now and listen when people complain that their messages are landing in spam. It may be an early indicator of a much bigger problem.

Looking for more great content? Check out our blog and join the community.

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