Ongoing, Clear Communication: There is No Substitute
Over the last two weeks we surveyed LinkedIn users regarding the role executive management’s guiding ideas play in influencing their sales reps daily practices. We polled the members of this business community asking, “To what degree do your vision and values direct sales rep behavior?” A full 85% of respondents indicated that the vision and values “guide all the reps do” or provide a “direct link.”
The comments we received are equally as enlightening relative to this leadership trait, and many focused on the importance of not just establishing the guiding ideas but the ongoing, clear communication of these. For example:
Consistent, Clear, and Repeated
- "We are making progress on linking vision and values, however there is no end to this effort."
- "I believe the transfer of vision is the number one thing a c-level or sales organization manager can do. I learned a long time ago that repeating the vision over and over again, and in different ways, with different media, is key. One memo to the field won't cut it."
- "When the values, vision, purpose, etc. are built into defined processes that lay the framework for the sales department, it is pretty easy. When tasked with incorporating these values, etc. as a secondary set of guidelines not attached to job responsibilities or specific procedures it can be difficult to maintain across an entire team."
These responses can be summed up with one respondent’s observation: “Management has a responsibility to consistently articulate and demonstrate these [ideas] by their words and actions.” This leadership insight touches on three key communication realities that we know build an engaged and productive sales force:
Keep it going - In terms of lasting influence, a continuous string of little conversations about company ideas and valued behaviors trumps one grand mention of them.
Keep it consistent – A simple message repeated often has great staying power. “What’s your main thing?” asked one of our poll respondents, adding, “The ‘main thing’ is the company’s purpose and priorities. When every person in an organization knows and understands the main thing, people will focus on what is important.”
Keep it clear – When leaders take the time to link company ideas with desired behaviors -- and clearly communicate that relationship – they connect the dots between ideas and actions and make the connection obvious to others.
Quick Three-Step Diagnosis
If ideas that drive your company fade by the time they reach street-level sales activity, run a communications check:
- Does leadership keep the communication fire stoked with ongoing conversation about ideas that drive behavior?
- Does leadership address and re-address the same ideas throughout the organization, over time, and in different settings?
- Does leadership communicate a clear connection between the company’s “main idea” and desired behaviors?
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you agree with the outcome of the poll?
Have you seen a great example of consistent and clear communication of the guiding ideas that ultimately impact the behaviors of the sales team?
Or, how about a poor example? Please share your thoughts so we all may continue to collaborate and learn from one another.