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Sales_Team_Sport

10 Ways to Optimize Your Sales Ops Communication

Our CEO, Grayson Morris always says, sales is a team sport. I never tire of hearing this because it’s so true. Every element of sales involves the entire team. Yes, the sales team is on the front lines of everything, but every…single function within a company leads to the team posting wins or losses. 

Follow These Tips to Keep Everyone on the Same Page of the Sales Playbook

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” These famous words from Mike Krzyzewski, legendary Hall of Fame collegiate and Olympic basketball coach ring true – particularly effective sales operations, where teamwork is a non-negotiable requirement for success. When they’re operating at peak efficiency, sales ops teams are developing strategies, defining territories, streamlining sales processes, redesigning comp plans, and more. Without crisp, thoughtful communication, those efforts will go for naught.

Is your sales ops team ready to lay out their vision and make a compelling case for their recommendations? Can you clarify the details, adjustments, and benefits of the comp plan and explain new priorities and their underlying rationale? In this blog post, we’ll share some tips to help you master the art of planning and executing sales ops communications.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Successful communications come from careful planning and clarity of purpose. Conversely, poor communication arises from poor planning. Approach your rollout strategically. You always want to ensure you’ve completed all the necessary preparations before rolling out sales ops communications.

Start with a Narrative

Every good communications program needs an underlying narrative. To make your message more compelling, go beyond reciting facts and explain the story behind the nuts and bolts in a way that offers a compelling purpose and the direct benefits. Transparency is key. If you only tell employees what to do but not why to do it or how it benefits them, the most you can expect is begrudging compliance. However, a well-informed sales team is a motivated sales team, and a motivated sales team is a productive sales team.

What’s the deeper reasoning that led to changes? What was the business opportunity? How does the company get stronger? And, of course, how can the rep earn more money?  That’s the real what you need to communicate.

Keep it Short and Sweet

The simpler your message is for the reader, the smarter you sound. Aim for clarity, and don’t needlessly complicate matters. Yes, the complete comp plan should include all the calculations, but the initial communication should focus on sharing key messages. Make outcomes easy to understand and show simulations and before-and-after scenarios. Charts and graphs can visually demonstrate the potential for increased earnings.

Build a Timeline

Any major communication should be driven by a timeline for meeting and talking with all relevant stakeholder groups. Since some people and teams are easier to schedule, get your schedule locked down as soon as possible to avoid gaps waiting for groups to be available. For instance, your timeline might look like this:

  • Meet sales leaders before finalizing the comp plan.
  • Host an in-person kickoff to introduce the new plan.
  • Schedule follow-up meetings with teams to evaluate plan adoption.
  • Hold one-on-one meetings to address ongoing/individual concerns.

Create the Right Documents

Thorough documentation is an essential tool for good communication. If you’re rolling out a new sales comp plan, you need more than just the plan document itself. Visual “cheat sheets” for each relevant role can help you walk stakeholders through what each will need to know.

Where can your audience access that info? Performio’s Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) software lets you store important sales documents with role-based access to keep sensitive information limited to those with proper permissions. Performio also provides what-if calculators that allow your reps to simulate outcomes from different sales activities and see the precise impact on their overall earnings.

Finally, craft your talking points – your key messages – for each of the different meetings in your timeline. Carefully outline the major elements to cover and your responses to anticipated questions or objections. Prior planning and anticipation helps you communicate crisply.

Host a Kickoff Meeting

The all-important kickoff meeting offers your high-level introduction to your communication. Set the vision, establish why the change is happening, and explain what this will mean for them. Ideally, this meeting takes place in person. But a videoconference is perfectly acceptable. What’s most important is that you’re able to have a two-way conversation.

Here's what you can’t do: Blast out an impersonal communication that’s all too easy to overlook or ignore. You want to see one another’s faces and let people ask questions – and be prepared with answers.

In fact, ample Q&A time is essential. Be sure your kickoff meeting leaves plenty of time for a truly two-way dialogue. The more interactive your meeting, the more employees will feel invested in the new direction.

Meet with Individual Teams

As soon as possible after your kickoff, schedule time to meet with each individual team to underscore the narrative you established at the kickoff and walk the team through the details of what the changes will mean. Review your talking points and discuss the new strategies they’ll use. Addressing any questions and ensuring your teams know where to find more documentation. After your meeting, the team should be ready to execute the new plan.

Be Available for Individual Discussions

Not everyone will need or want a one-on-one meeting to discuss the new plan, but you should make it clear that you’re available to have such discussions. After all, some employees aren’t comfortable asking questions in group settings, and others may have questions they don’t think of until they’re working under the new plan provisions. Make sure you’re available by blocking out windows of time to accommodate these requests during the rollout stage.

Partner with Other Departments

When it comes to communications, you don’t want to go it alone. Work with other departments in your company that can provide a broader perspective, ensure that the changes will work well for the whole company, and ultimately help get your message out. Meet with department leaders before the plan is finalized or changed. Their timely thoughts, concerns, and ideas will not only help you refine your plan. They’ll also generate buy-in from the other department leaders who now feel invested in the outcomes.

Get Ready for Pushback

People are creatures of habit, and change can be hard, so you should prepare for a healthy response from stakeholders anywhere along the way. Anticipate the objections your plan may spur, and prepare to offer thoughtful answers. Plan for both “why” and “why not” questions – sales reps will want to know the reason for devaluing one sales activity as much as the reason for incentivizing another. Invite collaboration

BONUS TIP:  Use a Centralized Platform for Communications

While a well-planned rollout gets things off to a great start, your employees will always want to reference the full plan or other important documents and details. Don’t leave them guessing about where they can find critical information, poring over spreadsheets, navigating a poorly organized shared drive, or digging through stacks of printed documents.

Performio’s ICM software provides a centralized repository with role-based access to ensure your communication happens the way they need, with documents messaging, what-if calculators, performance tracking, and more.

Communication Doesn’t Just Happen

As Coach Krzyzewski would note, when it comes to communication, planning and preparation are the keys. Don’t treat communication as an afterthought – that only leads to confusion (or, occasionally, even anger). You never want the sales team to feel blindsided by a change because you didn’t communicate it well enough. It might be tempting to think you don’t have enough time to plan out your communications. The unfortunate reality is that it takes much longer to correct miscommunications afterward than to just plan properly in the first place. You’ll save more time in the long run by preparing in the short run – and create greater goodwill.

Want to ensure full transparency and clear communication on sales numbers? Discover how the leading commission software can drive performance for your organization. Request a demo today!

 

 

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