Sales Managers consistently question how they can be better coaches. They ask questions around “How can my reps do what I tell them they need to do?” Or “What are the best ways to get a rep to perform better?” Some go to the extreme: “Why don’t sales reps listen to me?” or “How can I train them in half the time it takes?”
The cause is not communicating effectively. I observe sales managers (and their leaders) waste valuable time and energy repeating messages, prioritizing wrong activates and spending too much time on non-customer facing activities. The primary root problem of these behaviors is poor communication.
- What impact are my communications having on my people?
- How can I communicate more effectively?
- What if I delivered a message to my team one time and it was understood and acted upon?
- How can my regular communication techniques result in desired behavior changes the same day?
- Is there a way to measure my communication effectiveness?
It’s worth the effort. Organizations that train and monitor their sales manager’s on effective communication show improvement in numerous metrics:
- Increased Revenue by 5%
- Lower Sales Turnover up to 22%
- Reduced Average Sale Cycle Length by 12%
- Increased in Average Sales Price (ASP) by 4%
- Improved promotion rate of 15%
- Increase time spent together with direct reports by 11%
With the hundreds of field observations and conversations our company has each year with sales reps and managers, some alarming trends are happening. Sales managers are rushing through conversations with their direct reports sacrificing coaching time. Directors are not providing their direct reports (Sales Managers) with the necessary coaching. Poor communication fundamentals are leading to confusing messages, lost productivity and ineffective actions leading to lost revenue.
Sales Leaders must improve their communication skills.
Four Steps to Effective Sales Management Communication
- Define and develop a cadence for the fundamental methods of communication. The way you communicate is just as important as the how. Make sure you are using the appropriate methods and preforming these in a regular cadence.
- Adhere to the Best Practices in the way you communicate. Sending your message is an important as receiving it. These best practices help ensure not only people will listen but take action on your coaching and feedback
- Avoid the most common poor communication techniques. Poor communication takes just a few forms. But it sucks the life out of your direct reports. Avoid these at all costs
- Effective Communication is ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ the organization. Both internally and externally, there are numerous people you must communicate with every day as a sales manager. The way you communicate also affects your ability to get the message across. Thus, I add a fourth method:
- Tailor your message to your audience. Think about all the ways you communicate throughout and organization either internally or externally. The way you communicate and the how you communicate needs to change with each person.
Results are impressive for those who do it well. Check out Rosalba Agnello. Rosalba is a sales manager at HP in their ESSN division based in Milan, Italy. When I observed her sales meetings and one on one sales rep debriefings recently, I was impressed by the way she communicated. She practiced all 4 of the steps outlined above. She avoided the common mistakes most sales managers make in communicating and noticed her sales rep understood the coaching and feedback while immediately taking action. I checked her stank ranking against the other sales managers. Out of 900 sales managers worldwide, she was in the top 5 %. And she works in Italy, a country that is almost bankrupt and has felt the brunt of the economic downturn, especially in Europe. She is a great communicator.
Take a lesson from Rosalba and improve your communication. Work on your communication methods, cadence and messaging to your audience and direct reports. The metrics don’t lie, your performance will improve.
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