Sales Best Practices

Why Sales Engagement Is About Way More Than Just Booking Meetings

Audrey Weber, Associate Editor, Expat Extraordinaire's Avatar

Audrey Weber, Associate Editor, Expat Extraordinaire

This post is based on a podcast interview with Jacco vanderKooij from WinningByDesign
To hear this episode, and many more like it, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.


Here’s a quick question for you: When you have a headache and you go to the store to buy a pill to cure your headache, why do you choose one medicine over others?

A. Because the box looks great.

B. Because the price is right.

C. Because the person behind the counter is the best salesperson on the planet.

D. None of the above.

The Answer? 

D. None of the above.

According to Jacco, you buy the pills you buy "...because you have a headache. You have a pain. The whole sales engagement process is not focused on getting them to buy what we’re selling. The entire process of sales engagement is to solve the customer’s problem."

“The entire process of sales engagement is to solve the customer’s problem.” Jacco vanderKooij, WinningByDesign

Back in the day, technology sales contracts were larger, more was paid up front by the buyer, and the seller’s "engagement" efforts primarily followed after a company signed the contract, during the post-buy software or hardware installation.

These days, revenue and profit sources have shifted. The true profits do not come at the end of the first month as they used to, now they come at the end of one, two or even three-year contracts. 

Twenty years ago, the risk was mostly carried by the buyer, but now, with the month-to-month contracts typical of SaaS products, the risk is shared more equally between the buyer and the seller.

SaaS sales have a "shifted risk profile," as Jacco calls it, and that shift has radically changed the world of sales engagement.

So what are sales reps to do? What about post-sales engagement?

To help sales reps execute and follow through on the sale, or what he calls the “mutual commitment,” Jacco looks at the sales funnel differently than the traditional model.

The traditional seller breaks the sales cycle down into Marketing, Prospecting, and Selling. Jacco believes in a customer-focused model consisting of three events that have to happen before that mutual commitment can lead to a multi-year, mutually profitable relationship are:

1. Generating awareness
2. Educating the customer
3. Helping the customer through the selection process

It is after the selection stage when the customer decides to make a commitment with you and true engagement can begin. From that point, the traditional seller sees the post-sale process as Onboarding, Usage, and Expansion. 

In Jacco’s model, customer-centric engagement looks like these three events:

4. Successful onboarding
5. Achieving impact
6. Measurable growth

What areas of the sales engagement process are people missing the most?

"The first thing that people are missing is why they need to do [engagement]," Jacco says.

According to Jacco, here’s why you need to practice post-sale, customer-centric engagement:

It used to be that you could count on your superstar salespeople to carry the weight of your quotas—you may have 20% of your sales account for as much as 80% of your business.

Those days are gone. Superstars do not have the same impact they used to. The superstars today close only about 30% of the business, which means that the remaining 80% of your sales team is closing 70% of the business. Therefore, your company needs to find consistency in performance across your sales team.

If your company is still relying on a few superstars, you’re going to have a process issue. "SaaS has become superstar-immune," Jacco states. "As a result, SaaS is essentially a function driven by process, not by superstars. Process is the only thing that can make average sellers perform consistently."

That’s the theory behind Jacco’s approach to the science of sales and introducing processes that are blueprints for success. The result of having the right sales processes in place is that every seller—regardless of natural charisma or years of experience—is trained to deliver, and has the tools to replicate, an effective and efficient performance.

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“The first thing that people are missing is why they need to do [engagement].” Jacco vanderKooij, WinningByDesign

What makes Jacco’s sales engagement process different from the other sales processes?

While this list is not comprehensive, here are some of the key moments Jacco believes can be blueprinted and reproduced in any sales process to bring consistency across your performers:

  1. First contact—the initial outreach and engagement with customer
  2. Discovery—diagnose the problem that you need to help them solve
  3. Demo and assisting the buy—what is your solution to their problem and how can you make this solution fit into their organizational ecosystem
  4. Proposal and trade—the terms and conditions of commitment
  5. Instant warm feeling—the follow-through after the sale

These are the process steps that can be replicated—whether you’ve been in the game for 20-30 years or you are fresh out of school—and taught if you want to improve your revenue as well as the caliber of your sales reps.

“Like any athlete, you don’t stop your legs or the bat on impact, you keep swinging through the motion. So I believe that you have to swing through the sale.” Jacco vanderKooij, WinningByDesign

If you’re thinking right now: "There’s no way my reps are going to execute on this process," Jacco says, "You probably hired the wrong reps."

It sounds brutal but it’s true. For the 99% of companies that must put in substantial outbound and engagement efforts, time wasted on reps "doing it their own way" and only delivering 20-40% of quota will cost you.

Arguably the most important step in the entire sales process is booking the first meeting, otherwise you’d never even have a chance with your customer. This step is also the most advanced and challenging. However, it is most often your youngest, most inexperienced reps, the SDRs, who are prospecting and executing on this step. According to Jacco, it's absolutely crucial you have a blueprinted process for your reps to follow to land that first meeting, and then remind them that buying journey doesn't end with closed-won. You need to swing through the sale.


Jacco and WinningByDesign’s team of sales professionals also have a series of SaaS Sales books available here. Jacco will also be speaking at Unleash '19. Tickets are now on sale!

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