In a recent Gartner survey of 46 sales executives, “improving the effectiveness of sales communications” ranked as the most common response to what was in their top 3 priorities.
This is an understandable challenge as all professionals contend with too much “noise” in the workplace. It is so easy to communicate to the masses that more and more people are getting their messages out there. Unfortunately, too many messages dilute focus and create noise.
So why is this a bigger problem for sales?
In many regards, sales is where the “rubber meets the road.” Sellers need to be regularly updated about product features, marketing campaigns, training, system changes, etc. Plus, as employees, sellers get all corporate communications – organizational announcements, leadership updates, and HR messages. There’s no wonder to why sales executives are concerned about communicating effectively.
As a sales executive, you can set an example of what good looks like. Here are some tips for improving communications:
Too often, executive messages feel like top-down proclamations. This might work for an organizational announcement, but there are better approaches for calls to action. Influencing your sellers to change their behavior requires you to be thoughtful about your audience:
- What’s in it for them?
- Are they able to change?
- What are their objections?
- Will they share your sense of urgency?
Reduce the noise with role-specific messages
When identifying the target audience, consider what you are asking them to do. If you do not have a specific outcome in mind for a given role, perhaps they can be pulled off the distribution. Fewer messages lead to a greater focus on the messages that you do send.
Use multiple communication styles and formats
People simply have different learning styles. Some like to listen, while others like to read. Some like to see the highlights, while others prefer a lot of details. Use different communications like email, town halls, conference calls and FAQs. Be considerate of your audience, especially those that are diversely spread across geographies, generations and tenure.
Coordinate and collaborate with other communicators
Sales leaders should designate a sales communications coordinator. This coordinator can work with other communicators to ensure messages are consistent and staggered to avoid overwhelming the sales force. Even more, they can be on the lookout for potentially conflicting messages.
Create a feedback loop
Wherever possible, ensure that your audience can share their feedback with you or perhaps their manager. Regardless of the mechanism, feedback needs to bubble up to the top. This will drive engagement and lead to continuous improvement.
As a sales executive, communicating is one of your most powerful tools to inform, educate and influence your sales team. You should honestly assess your current communication tactics by asking for feedback and reviewing employee engagement feedback.
Communicating effectively does not need to be a challenge, but it should be a priority. I’m glad to see that for most leaders, it already is.
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