It is not just the role of sales (and marketing) to deliver the message of the company to the market, but also to be the eyes and ears of the company. No one in the organisation is better placed to understand the markets perception of the business, the product or service offerings and the quality of service delivered pre-, during and post-sale than the sales team.
The sales manager’s role in this communication process is to communicate the company’s vision, strategy and objectives to the sales team in an appropriate manner so the team’s and individual salesperson’s efforts are focussed on achieving the expected results. The sales manager must use his knowledge of the company, it’s objectives, his team’s capabilities and the market to craft and communicate appropriate plans and actions to guide his teams performance.
Likewise, the sales manager needs to translate the feedback received from the market via his sales team into appropriate messages to the various areas of the business to ensure they are focussed on delivering the value the market is demanding. Operations, production, R&D, marketing and other areas of the business need to be focussed on what the customers value and the most appropriate people to deliver this message are the sales team.
But here’s the thing – when you ask: “Are you a good communicator?”, most people think about whether or not they have their say. Most answer ‘yes’. But communication is a a two-way street – it only happens when your message is received and understood, and you listened to receive and understand the other person’s message in return. Miscommunication happens more than many of us acknowledge and it is expensive. It can result in mistakes being made, lost time, goodwill and trust.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw
As a sales manager you need to have an acute awareness of your communication skills and focus on developing them so that the role of ‘master communicator’ can be fulfilled.
All too often, sales managers will focus on other areas of self development and companies will support them in these studies. But throughout my career in sales and consulting, I have consistently seen that when a company invests in training and developing a sales manager’s communication skills, they are surprised at the positive results, including:
- Higher revenue
- Lower staff turnover
- Reduced sales cycles
- Better alignment of sales and marketing
- Improved morale
- Improved collaboration between departments
So what can you do to improve your communication skills? Here are a few thoughts:
- Be aware of your own assumptions, viewpoints and feelings – don’t push your own agenda or act emotionally
- Be aware of the assumptions, feeling and views of those with whom you communicate – it’s not just about you
- Give others the opportunity to speak up, offer suggestions and ideas – encourage participation
- Listen carefully to what others have to say before offering comments or suggestions – remember that old saying about 2 ears, 1 mouth?
- Use jargon sparingly – communicate at a level others will understand
- Keep your message precise and simple – don’t use a paragraph when a sentence will do; don’t use lot’s of words when a few will do.
- Regularly reflect on the effectiveness of your communication, both in real-time and as an on-going personal skills audit
- Recognise the contribution of others
Effective communication is a process. One that every sales manager needs to master. Open and honest communication is a hallmark of an effective sales team. If you are trying to enhance the performance of your team, start with accurately gauging the state of the team]s communication and work to improve that first – as well as your own.
And remember, it’s not just about getting a message out, but also ensuring the voice of the customer is heard internally.
This article was previously posted on Linked In.