Sales Development Rep Communication that Inspires: Modern Performance Expert Roundup
Communication is a foundational skill for any leader. The ability to convey goals, provide training and corrective feedback, and express praise or criticism is the infrastructure of management itself. Communication style permeates throughout workplace culture, making it essential to model the highest level mastery of communication skills from the top-down. If you expect your reps to be candid and collaborative, you as a manager must function as a living example of those expectations. What you say, and how you say it, is critical to your ability to develop all facets of functional sales teams, from core aptitudes to high morale, trust, and team cohesion.
With such a premium on good communication established, the best place to turn for counsel is to the experts. Read on for crucial advice from our SDR management pros on how to exemplify and teach fair, honest, and effective communication. Check out their methods to inspire your employees to communicate better with you, with each other, and with your clients.
How do you ensure that individuals within your team are communicating well with each other? How do you ensure that you’re communicating well with your staff?
What’s most important is first modeling the behavior that you want to see.
“At MuleSoft, we subscribe to the idea of being radically candid in our engagements with peers. We care deeply about the people we work with, and we convey that, but we are also as direct as possible.”
Creating a culture in which giving and receiving feedback is expected and valued gives people the opportunity to grow and learn to effectively communicate.
“One thing to keep in mind is that people are less inclined to be radically candid if they’re your subordinates. You need to make them aware that it’s their responsibility to give you feedback.”
If they don’t do that, they’re not demonstrating that they care about you, the same way you demonstrate that you care about them.
Tone and inflection, how you deliver feedback effects how they receive it. They need to know you believe they can be better.
“I think we do a good job of team bonding with simple things, like eating lunch together most days. It’s about opening up the talk track to something outside of work.”
It’s great to discuss work and to be excited about it. But I think when people bond by eating together or going on one-on-ones with other members who might be outside of their own team, it opens up the gates for work-related questions when they come up because people feel comfortable with each other.
When it comes to my staff, tt’s about opening up the gates: team meetings, one-on-ones, eating lunch together, and sometimes we have happy hour.
“If we’re interacting with items other than just work, they feel more comfortable talking to me about work issues.”
We do exercises like “good call, bad call” so that the reps get used to celebrating each other’s victories, learn from any sort of trials that they’re going through, and become comfortable talking about those trials together.
“We involve a lot of the reps who are currently on the floor in some of the training to help everyone develop rapport.”
And, of course, we sit next to each other.
I use the one-on-ones as check-ins to ensure that my communication is where it needs to be with everyone.
“Everyone is different. Some people don’t need me to explain why we do certain things in great detail. Others need a more in-depth perspective.”
So I want to make sure that I’m aligned with every individual and know how they prefer to be communicated with. I try to make myself as transparent as possible.
I like to use the team meetings. They’re open communication points on everything, from how successful we are to perspectives on the broader business.
First of all, it’s part of the hiring process. We hire good communicators and we’re very upfront about how communication is good for our team.
Everyone joins the team knowing this is going to be a competitive environment and talking about what’s working is really important for the team.
Other than that, we do a couple of other things. There are standups that help everyone communicate with each other. There are call blitzes where people sit in a room and make cold calls with each other, listening in and learn from each other. We have a team Slack channel where everyone communicates regularly.
Then there are bigger meetings, like our weekly best practices meeting with the wider sales team where everyone gets a chance to talk about what worked well in lead generation and pipeline generation for their territory. Otherwise, it’s all about hiring and culture.
“It’s important they don’t treat the job as just a chore, but something that’s interesting and stimulating and that leads to them actually discussing their work lives and their strategies and tactics with each other.”
To communicate well with my staff I use all those same channels I just mentioned, plus physically I sit in the middle of the team. I try to make myself very open and approachable.
“If anyone Slacks or emails me, responding within 10 seconds is good. It gives everyone the feeling and reassurance that if they reach out to me, it’s a priority for me to respond and alleviate a concern or answer a question. The last thing I want to do is be a bottleneck for their productivity, so I think that’s important.”
I think communicating goes both ways, so in one-on-ones, I leave a couple minutes at the end to ask for direct feedback. A lot of people have thoughts that I actively try to incorporate. If a person mentions something that could be better for the wider team, I want them to give that feedback and have them see it in action.
The first thing is you have to bribe them a little bit because they have to earn resources! And the best way to earn resources is to stay on top of stuff. That’s the number one way to keep me off your behind: to keep me from constantly asking, “How many calls have you made? How many meetings have you set?” It’s to put stuff in Salesforce and keep me abreast of what’s going on. Communicate with me. That way I don’t have to bribe you and bug you!
If you keep me in the loop of what’s going on, keep me in the loop of what’s working and what’s not, then I can support you as a manager and I can fight for resources to make your job easier.
The second thing is that I have one-on-ones and team meetings with very specific agendas, and I stick to them. I don’t reschedule on my team, and I don’t disrespect their time at all.
The third thing is a constant and genuine focus on my team’s individual development and on overall team development. I think my team very much feels that I’m invested in their success—that I don’t just give lip service to it. I actually deliver on it. I show them that I make it a focus.
“In general, organizations do a bad job of communicating why things are or aren’t valuable to their reps. As a leader, always make your communication focused on how it benefits the rep, not how it benefits the business.”
In short, if you’re able to manage your deals, then you’re able to keep me off your back. When you need me to jump on the call, because the deal’s not going to close and you need someone to come and negotiate, I have all my notes right there so I can best represent you and the company. As a leader, always make your communication focused on how it benefits the rep not how it benefits the business.
Learn more from our experts, and see full profiles, here:
Steven Broudy, Director, Inside Sales, Americas at MuleSoft
Brooke Lengsfelder, Director of Sales Development at mParticle
Philip Galligan, Global Manager of Sales Development at Eventbrite
Dhiraj Singh, Inside Sales and Operations Manager at MemSQL
Chris Pollot, Director of Sales Development at UpGuard
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