Sales Enablement Communication at Scale: Knowing What to Say, When, and How
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Experienced sales enablement practitioners know that effective enablement relies heavily on actionable, applicable communication.
They also know that, though communications systems often work wonderfully in theory, they do not always work as well in practice.
Sales enablement depends on the flow of information keeping pace with the ever-shifting needs of the company. By extension, supporting and sustaining sales enablement processes will always require a robust plan for scaling communications among teams: a detailed blueprint for knowing what to say, at what time, and through which specific methods.
The following is a compendium of expert advice on four fundamental strategies for ensuring efficient communication across all sales teams, beginning with the most essential.
Always Strive for Context
People crave context, which means every piece of communication—particularly in business—needs a “why” behind it.
Ideally, communications should always effectively be able to convey four basic concepts:
- The purpose of the message or the “ask” implicit in said message.
- Exactly how it will affect what reps are doing, and why that is a good thing.
- Why the message is best suited to this specific moment in time.
- How it will support peer-to-peer relationships and interdepartmental alignment.
While this is certainly a lot to cover, a helpful way to address many of these points is to focus on the relevance of each communication: that is, how well it will translate into a direct benefit or genuine result. This is especially true for communications in sales learning, where team members should always be able to recognize the significance of each educational message and the obvious impact it will have on their jobs. In such cases, abstract ideas that have no bearing on the real world have a tendency to register as white noise.
Yet another way to make sure the “why” is related effectively is to be careful about timing and technique. For example, Steffaney Zohrabyan, digital adoption leader at Sprinklr, warns against lessons that are too broad or too theoretical in scope, noting they should preferably be pared down into smaller info sessions geared toward “just-in-time” learning.
“We found that this not only gives time back, but… it more quickly drives strategy and really helps [align with] strategic initiatives,” said Zohrabyan.
Zohrabyan also cautions that leaders looking to onboard new digital, or even analogue, tools should always be able to provide an explanation as to how and why the tool will be necessary to improve processes. This added step can go a long way toward highlighting the relevance of the ask and will likely be more appreciated than a hands-off, “Here’s a tool, now go use it” approach.
Finally, context––the “why” behind company communications––sometimes requires a healthy understanding of the world outside of work. It’s important for practitioners to remain flexible by keeping humanity front of mind and leaving space for the unexpected, particularly in light of the past year. This can help managers stay on top of reps’ needs, allowing leaders to home in on what’s most relevant to their team at any given moment.
Scale is Not Just About Size
Many enterprise-level organizations do not just represent a large number of individuals: they also cover a wide range of geographic regions, as well as many different generations. Thus, while size does matter, it’s not the only component in scaling communications.
Whatever the size of the audience, it’s important to employ systems with an appropriate amount of reach, along with an easily accessible chain of custody. A good place to start is with a software platform that’s able to accommodate groups both big and small. These platforms should have a friendly, navigable interface that lets teammates from every corner of the organization connect and collaborate. As Tymeshift head of growth, Nicholas Ghitti, notes, such tools can be immensely helpful in keeping operations on the move and getting team members up to speed.
“If a new person comes into the team, and he maybe [has] a question, he can go back to that Slack message channel and he can find [answers to] all those questions…instead of having to ask other people,” said Ghitti.
But while these interpersonal platforms are useful in terms of sheer capacity, they cannot always meet every necessity. There are also various regional markets––and their respective time zones––to consider.
For organizations spread out among different regions, it’s likewise important to be mindful of where everyone is at all times and to think about international learning styles and market needs, as well as how location might impact communications. Here again, digital tools that can adjust to wider audiences and address a variety of language requirements can help, as can policies for recording mission-critical meetings to leverage playback on demand.
Ghitti also recommends maintaining a rotating schedule for digital meetups. This way, no specific team will take on the full burden of a painfully early or extremely late appointment.
In addition to region, there’s also the added challenge of managing communications to various age groups.
When dealing with multigenerational team members, it’s advisable to assess employee comfort levels and choose communications channels accordingly, pivoting strategies when necessary.
That said, it’s best to make sure methods of communication are based more on past successes than on present expediency. In other words: Take team member comfort under advisement, but do not let it be the ultimate deciding factor. Instead, always circle back to how communications can deliver value, boost efficiency, and save time in the long run.
Another practical tip for sidestepping intergenerational communication breakdowns is to mix up team structures so each age group is equally represented, and no one gets left behind.
“There is a big temptation to avoid those generational differences when it comes to the way they work, but I think [all] of them have a lot of lovely things to add [to] each other… to bring new solutions and bring innovation to the company,” said Ghitti.
Leverage the Right Channels at the Right Time
As mentioned above, let the importance of the message be the primary guide when choosing which channels to use and when. Some case-sensitive channel strategies can include:
- Unexpected one-on-ones, which can break a normal routine, demand personalized attention, and drive a point home.
- Video calls, which, though increasingly common in today’s virtual-first business world, are still a highly effective face-to-face tool, especially for messages that carry momentous weight.
- Informal delivery, which is a welcome option for information that’s “nice to have” but not 100% critical. Informal platforms for delivering less-than-essential messaging can include podcasts, short-form videos, and other user-friendly media.
In situations where information absorption is crucial to company survival, bite-sized delivery can help guarantee an extra level of focus and engagement. In fact, this type of digestible communication can actually enhance delivery systems such as those for web-based training. For example, Zohrabyan leverages 90-second, YouTube-like enablement videos embedded into sales enablement and CRM platforms in order to cut back on distractions and support greater retention.
“Instead of taking users out of the flow of work to digest these communications, they’re able to do it directly where they need it,” said Zohrabyan.
As with sales operations and prospect outreach, understanding audience engagement for internal communications is key. Still, with broadscale practices such as all-hands conference calls or online coaching sessions, it’s often difficult to discern who’s paying attention and who’s accurately processing what sales enablement leaders have to say.
To overcome this, practitioners can utilize systems for collecting tangible feedback both within companies as well as without. Such processes can help maintain accountability and give a better sense of whether or not messages have landed successfully, and to what extent.
However, engagement data means very little if it’s not leveraged appropriately. Once concrete engagement metrics have been gathered, their ultimate findings should prompt necessary conversations surrounding failed messaging or under-performing communications processes. If, for example, records indicate a specific team is having trouble paying attention during training, leaders should follow up by asking the team manager why and offering to discuss strategies for improved retention.
Also, consider that truly impactful communications are driven by humility and compassion. It’s vital to be receptive to employees’ feelings and to ask them what they think of the information and messaging channels sales enablement has put in place. Should sales enablement leaders uncover a change is necessary, they must be prepared to adapt. If they need added assistance in implementing new programs, company ambassadors can be deployed to serve as champions for new tools or channels and to help ease sales teams through any operational transitions.
Whichever tools or channels make the cut, it’s crucial to remain as flexible as possible according to each situation and its desired outcomes. All communications should strive to maintain clarity and cohesion across all roles and locations, and each message should place special emphasis on what’s real and relevant to every rep––with ‘real’ being the operative word.
Indeed, today’s business communications must be as real as possible: instantly relatable, clearly applicable, up to date, and with a definitive goal in mind. Only then will team members be truly inspired to actively listen and take part.