When you talk with your sales reps, you know exactly what you mean. But they don’t always get what you're talking about, and that’s why you need to build better communication with your sales team. In any given week, your communication with team members may happen in the following settings:
- Team Meetings
- One-on-One Meetings
- Coaching and Training Sessions
- Microcoaching Sessions
- Email and Text Messages
Each of these interactions requires a specific style of communication. Let’s take a look.
Your team meetings, whether they take place in person or online, are great settings for sharing positive news. Some of your reps will appreciate recognition after they land a huge account. They’ll enjoy the congratulations and joking around that comes during these happy moments. A team meeting is also the best way to communicate more somber news. If your department has had layoffs, let people know about the event in a team meeting. Getting ahead of any gossip is a good idea. And in a team meeting, everyone will hear the message at the same time.
Ideally, your one-on-one meetings with your sales reps will focus on topics like professional development. If they’ve been studying for an additional degree, you might discuss career options for the next few years. You might need to review their PTO plans or discuss how they are getting along with other team members. These meetings are also your opportunity to build rapport with each rep by showing empathy for personal challenges they face. This topic is especially important if you are asking reps to return to the office after they’ve been working at a remote location for the past year. You can improve your level of empathy by using a communication style that works best for each rep. To know if your rep prefers to chat about personal matters before getting down to business in a meeting, check out the results of their sales skills assessment. A robust assessment will reveal each rep’s personal characteristics and suggest the best way to communicate with them.
Coaching sessions are a key way to build better communication with your sales team. In a formal coaching session, you engage in one-on-one work designed to help your rep improve their sales skills. These communications should start with identifying exactly what the rep would like to work on. Their goal might not be the same as yours, but to get the best result from these sessions, honor their wishes. After identifying the skill, such as negotiating, you may role play. Repeatedly pointing out a rep’s tendency to quickly cut the cost of a product can help them build their confidence. They don't need to give in when a prospect demands a discount. You can also build a rep's confidence by staying positive and encouraging them to try again.
Managers don’t always have time to give reps a full coaching session. And reps don’t always need an entire hour to practice improving a sales skill. On occasion, they do need reminders. Microcoaching, which is information shared in an email or text message, can fill in the traditional coaching gaps. When your reps answer questions posed in an email after watching a short video, they’re building their knowledge base. As a manager, you should take the time to review their answers and provide thoughtful responses and suggestions via return email or text message. Keep in mind that 26% of sales reps say their sales team would be more successful if co-workers were more proficient at their jobs. And 26% say they need continuing sales training to keep their skills sharp.
Email and Text Messages
Believe it or not, managers do communicate with their team members through old school email. It can be tricky to get the tone right in an email. But if you expect your team members to connect with prospects and clients using email, set the example. The tone of your email should be professional. Pay attention to spelling and grammar. And if you’re asking a team member for a deliverable, give them a time and a date in an email to help them stay on schedule.
Text messaging with team members can lead to undesirable outcomes. It’s tempting for new managers to want to be friends with their reps. But that attitude will damage your credibility as a leader. Don’t get caught up in sharing inappropriate memes or making comments about other people because of the informality of the channel. These actions will negatively impact your career, and they signal to your reps that you're comfortable with that type of behavior.
Build Better Communication With Your Sales Team
To build better communication with your sales team, be thoughtful about each opportunity you have to make an impression. Your style will be different based on whether you're in a one-to-many or a one-to-one setting. The bottom line is you should strive to be empathetic and professional.