Sales runs on relationships and communication. From the opening pitch to closing a deal, your sales team needs to communicate with their customers. What about with you or the team? Do you find it frustrating that your sales team is not speaking up during your meetings? Here are some ways to get your team engaged in meetings.
Sales communication is defined as the process and messaging that keep sales teams informed, engaged, and productive while encouraging feedback.
Sales communication is the backbone of a sales organization. You and your team understand the importance of communication when it comes to prospects and clients. It is not possible to close a deal without effective communication. But communication among yourself and your team is a little different. Here are some ways to establish better communication between your team and yourself.
It might feel on occasion, that you have meetings for meetings' sake. Team meetings should not be a chore or a matter of going through the motions. If your team meeting feels like that, it's time to take a step back and restructure the meeting. According to Better Meetings, "Professionals spend 2 hours a week in pointless meetings, which will add up to over $541B worth of resource in 2019." That is a lot of money!
On the flip side, that same study by Better Meetings stated, "The top reason people selected as the best way to get them excited about attending a meeting is for it to be well-planned (64%)." Keeping a meeting well planned with a structure in place, valuable information, and an opportunity for your team to share, will ensure your meetings are effective.
If you want more information on running a meeting, check out our blog, "How to Run an Effective Team Meeting."
Just because you have an agenda in place for the meeting does not mean you'll get your team to speak up during them. There seem to be built in defense mechanisms that lead to people walking on eggshells around authority figures, whether it's you, the sales leader, or the CEO. According to Psychology Today , "Being outspoken requires three things: the courage to speak up, the courage to listen, and the courage to stay in discovery." Most people are afraid if they are outspoken, they will be rejected for their thoughts and views. So here are some ways to work through that.
Most people do not like to be surprised and asked to speak about something for which they haven't prepared. A day before the meeting, make sure to send an email about what will be covered and what "homework" they need to bring to the meeting. For example, encourage them to share about a challenge they had, something they are proud of, or something they learned. Go around and give them a few minutes to speak to it and share with the group.
Sales leaders can fall into the trap of talking too much during a meeting. It is possible for a sales leader to talk too much, but it's rarely possible to listen too much. So, avoid these everyday bad habits that undermine a conversation:
You cannot listen while talking or focusing your attention elsewhere. Let your team talk among themselves on a particular topic and only speak when necessary. Take the time to listen for comprehension, so your team knows that you are really hearing what they are saying. When people feel heard and valued, they are more likely to share their opinions and ideas.
When asking your sales team what they think of a new product or a change in a sales process is met with stony silence, it's time to ask precise questions. People cannot respond well - and most often won't respond at all - if they don't understand what you're looking for when you ask a question. Try narrowing your questions such as:
The precise questions help your team know exactly what you are asking and what information you are seeking.
If you want people to speak up more, show them that speaking up will be rewarding. If you make a consistent effort to give people credit for their ideas, this will go a long way toward encouraging people to share more ideas. A simple "thank you" for sharing during or after the meeting can go a long way with your sales team. It's even more encouraging when their idea actually gets implemented. Share it broadly, giving them credit. Being specific about what you liked about what they shared will also help them feel rewarded for sharing and provide the team examples of what you are seeking.
A follow-up email is a perfect opportunity to encourage more sales communication. Just like in your meeting, you want to have a goal in mind, and in this case, it is to enable your salespeople to communicate more.
Start with thanking them specifically for what they brought to the meeting. Rather than just saying, "Thanks for your time," thank them for their input. Reference a specific conversation or detail they contributed to the meeting.
Keep it short and again, let them know what prep they need to do for the next meeting.
To improve your team's communication during a meeting, you need to make sure the meeting is relevant and well structured. Then you need to give your team a heads up about what will be discussed in the meeting, and if they have any "homework." Don't dominate the conversation. Get your team's input, reward them for participation, and be sure to follow-up with your sales team with positive reinforcement.