One of the most tangible and measurable ways communication teams can help their company is by improving the communications they have with sales teams. Integrating important learnings from the past five months, now is a great time to reevaluate your overall sales communications approach, rather than assume business as usual.
- Reconfirm what sales executives expect from sales teams
Communication teams can help sales leaders express evolving goals. Most salespeople are motivated by helping their clients succeed. If top salespeople can’t do this, even in down times, they can easily take their skills and track record to new organizations.
But sales reps will stick through a downturn if they have faith that the company will rise to meet the challenge. Encourage senior sales leaders to restate the company’s strategy and articulate the role sales teams play in its success. Sales teams will respond better knowing the overall direction and vision vs. simply selling the latest product. As Robert Iger said in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, “If leaders don’t articulate their priorities clearly, then the people around them don’t know what their own priorities should be. Time and energy and capital get wasted.”
- Decide what you can stop doing
Sending more communications to sellers during tough times is not the answer. Many groups within your company might believe that “I exist, therefore I need to get my content to the sales teams.” But this only overwhelms sales reps and leads to them opening fewer and fewer emails.
Now is the time to take thoughtful action. Make a plan that determines the most effective channels on which your sales teams rely. Start a dialogue with a subset of your sales team and expand it as needed. This may lead to completely streamlining and reconfiguring your sales communications approach. For example, can you collapse several underperforming channels? Is it time to consider a mobile app or other digital tools to better reach sellers who traditionally are on the road a lot?
Likewise, use any findings to talk with the disparate groups that work directly with sales teams. For example, show any compelling results of the conversations with sales reps to HR, legal, finance, product development and even marketing teams that the “system” is overwhelming sales reps. At a minimum, recast information as actionable with a clear benefit to the sales rep vs. simply pushing out nice-to-know news. Work together with sales reps to create kickass content.
- Build or refresh a sales collateral hub and activate social selling
Communications and marketing teams should work together to update key sales collateral and company overview materials. Sales teams commonly ask each other “who has the latest sales deck” for a particular product or even the master company presentation. This is inefficient and can lead to sales reps using outdated materials. Communication and marketing teams can update and consolidate the sales collateral hub on their company intranet with the latest sales materials and company decks. Having a single source of truth will help alleviate any of the frustrations of going into a negotiation feeling unprepared. And, of course, making it mobile-friendly will help bring more attention to your sales hub.
Likewise, social selling can give sales professionals and businesses a platform where they can establish themselves as experts and problem solvers, deliver value through relevant content, and stay top-of-mind when a prospect is making a purchasing decision. Identifying and skilling up on new ways to social distance while selling builds resilience in your sales team, and builds a respectful relationship with new prospects.
- Educate your employees around what the company’s top 25 customers are facing
Communications teams can develop compelling stories around the state of its customer base through the lens of the sales team. The goal is to inform your employees about how customers are doing. Employees are worried about two things right now: the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones and the performance of their company. Be transparent about what the sales team is hearing from the most important customers and identify any actionable steps the rest of the company can take to help them through any difficulties. Marketing and communications teams have the power to greatly influence their sales teams. Take advantage now to help prepare them for better days ahead.
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