A big hello from Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s time for another solo episode. Today’s topic is all about building better communication with sales and setting up clear expectations. And after listening to this episode, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to navigate the process with ease.
In this episode:
- How to appropriately contact and interview the sales team members
- What to consider when reviewing the list of priorities
- How to get buy-in from sales and management
- What’s next after you get buy-in from your colleagues
- How to provide timely updates
- Best practice to update SLA regularly
Quotes from the episode:
“There is no blanket solution for working with sales. You can look for best practices, but it’s usually hard to implement best practices as is. You need to know what nuggets you can take from best practices and apply to you and your team.”
“Create a presentation, show what you will do, and get buy-in. Sales like to see what you can do for them NOW. So you need to have a couple of things to show that you will jump right in.”
A big hello from Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s time for another solo episode. Today’s topic is all about how to clearly and effectively communicate with sales. And after listening to this episode, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to navigate the process with ease.
But, again, if you have any questions, please reach out to email@example.com.
Supporting sales is tricky and delicate. For example, when I do sales enablement presentations at conferences or training sessions, I often get questions such as:
One common question:
“Sales change their minds a lot, so it’s hard to know what they want. How can I support them if they change directions all the time?”
Here is another one:
“Sales ask me to send the same content all the time because they don’t stay on top of what’s been published. How can I help them get in the loop?”
Ok, one more:
“Sales don’t want to do their research or create templates, and they ask Marketing to do it for them. But it’s not my job, so how do I tell them No and maintain a good relationship?”
Today, I want to address one question: How can you better communicate with Sales and set up clear expectations?
I understand your pain because I have supported sales for a long time. However, even though every company has a sales organization and faces similar challenges across the board, there is no cookie-cutter solution – remedies will vary from company to company.
I’ve never recommended a one-size-fits-all solution to a company, even if the challenge they’re facing resembles similar case studies. You need to consider sales corporate culture, salespeople seniority, organizational structure, processes, and even the sales team’s tools.
For example, many sales organizations struggle with the quality of leads from marketing. We need to find a potential cause or causes for that first. Do we have a clear definition of marketing leads that sales can accept? Is the quality not on par? Do we need more vetting before we pass leads to sales?
How can we change the definition if we need to? How should we modify the processes, and who should vet them? Once you determine some plausible causes, the solutions will also depend on the organizational structures, resources shared between sales and marketing, etc.
So, one big key takeaway for today’s podcast episode is that there is no blanket solution for working with sales.
You can look for best practices, but it’s usually hard to implement best practices as is. You need to know what nuggets you can take from best practices and apply to you and your team.
Here are some steps I’d take to communicate with sales clearly and set up concrete expectations:
1. Interview and talk to several sales team members about their challenges and how they ideally want to be supported moving forward.
Bear in mind: at this point, you are just gathering information. You don’t necessarily need to implement everything they suggest, and you’re not committing to anything just yet.
2. Go through the list and prioritize. Here’s what you need to consider at this stage:
– List: If you interview 10-20 salespeople, the resulting list will be long. You’ll need to comb through everything and group similar requests together. That takes time.
– Prioritization approach: Prioritize what you will do based on their needs and business imperatives, some of which may be low-hanging fruit, while others require resources and a budget. Identify three low-hanging fruit and three that require more intensive resources and budgeting that you need to work on.
– Create a service level agreement (SLA): Create a document to explain what you will and will not do and/or specify something sales need to do to move things forward collectively.
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3. Get buy-in from sales and management
Create a presentation and show what you will do, and get buy-in. Sales like to see what you can do for them NOW. So you need to have a couple of things to show that you will jump right in.
For example, you might refresh the sales pitch deck, update a pricing guide, or even just commit to attending their weekly sales huddle meetings to listen in.
4. Once you get buy-in, it’s all about execution, execution, execution. Start working and show them what you can deliver. Knock their socks off.
5. Stay close and provide timely updates
Always let them know what you have done, what you are doing, and what you will do. This can be in the form of an update at the weekly huddle meetings. Have a standing agenda item such as Marketing Updates, and take a couple of minutes during each meeting to provide status updates. Or, you can incorporate what you accomplish as part of the quarterly updates that your team provides to Sales.
6. Update SLA as you go
As time goes by, sales always have additional questions that fall outside the scope you’ve proposed. I KNOW; I’ve been there. Address these questions head-on. It’s like if you are a restaurant owner and you see a bad Yelp review – address it, explain your point of view, and apologize if necessary.
When sales team members ask about something not part of the Service Level Agreement, address their concerns right away and discuss what needs to be done, then update the SLA accordingly.
Both you and sales will learn to make the appropriate adjustments over time through close communication and collaboration. And there you have it!
We covered a lot, so don’t hesitate to pop any questions you have down into the comments. And if you liked how I explained things, feel free to subscribe to the podcast! And I always love to hear from you.
Take care, and see you next time!
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To expand your knowledge about how to build better communication with sales, check out some of my previous podcast episodes, blog posts, and video.