Learn how to communicate with executives as a sales manager and why communication skills are so highly valued by executives when seeking potential sales managers.

How Sales Managers Can Communicate Effectively with Executive Leadership

February 12th, 2018

One of the vital roles that sales managers assume is that of communicator between an organization’s sales force and the executives that guide the company.

This, however, is easier said than done, as speaking to executives can be intimidating and stressful — especially if you’re not prepared.

If you’re a new sales manager or thinking of applying for such a position within your organization, taking the time to understand what executives need from their interactions with sales managers, how to meet those needs, and understanding how your ability to communicate benefits you and your sales team will save you time and headaches in the future.

How to Communicate Effectively with Executive Leadership

Whether deciding the next territory for expansion, moving into a new industry, or developing new products, a company’s executive leadership is ultimately focused on ensuring the continued success of the organization.

With organizational success encompassing so many aspects of business — from customer acquisition, to marketing, to sales, accounting, and everything in between — there’s a lot on the minds and schedules of most executives, which is why executives treasure communication skills from those whom they hire.

Though the leadership styles and informational needs of executives can differ from organization to organization, focusing on these key tenets will help ensure your communication is effective and inspires success.

Understand Key Performance Indicators.

In your meetings with leadership, you represent your sales team and the company’s sales efforts as a whole. When leadership looks to you for your thoughts or suggestions, you must be prepared in order to perform well and present your insights confidently.

To do this, it is vital that you understand your sales department’s primary KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) inside and out. These metrics are your clearest signal concerning what figures and measurements are important to your organization’s executive leadership.

Practice Your Primary Talking Points and Be Concise.

Trailing off topic or losing sight of the subject of the meeting will do nothing but breed frustration and make executives reluctant to rely upon you as a trusted source of sales information.

To help avert any fumblings during your meeting or presentation to leadership, practice.

Walk through your key talking points repeatedly until you feel assured and comfortable with your ability to navigate through the subjects that matter most to leadership.

During the meeting, stay on subject and communicate your key talking points succinctly. Unless specifically requested, don’t go into minute technical details that might not resonate with your executive audience.

Being concise, on subject, and goal-oriented sends signals to your organization’s leadership that you’re laser-focused on achieving what is important for the overall success of the company and have a solid understanding of what drives sales success.

Having a sales manager who takes initiative, actively listens, puts customers first, and communicates between departments effectively is an invaluable asset. Tweet

Discuss Key Successes, Failures, and Strategies for Improvement

Were there shortcomings this month or quarter? Understand what the key issues were that lead to those shortcomings and develop a strategy — before your meeting with leadership — to address those issues head-on.

Were there great successes? Highlight specific areas of achievement and what made those achievements possible.

From those successes, learn what tactics resulted in such outstanding performance and define a plan for how to apply those effective practices to areas of weakness your sales team may be experiencing.

By understanding how success is defined by leadership, how to communicate both successes and shortcomings, and by both developing and communicating your plans to address weaknesses, leadership will begin to recognize you as an effective and trustworthy sales manager.

Actively Listen and Take Action on Executive Feedback

As you present your successes and engage with leadership throughout the meeting, they will invariably have feedback for you and your team.

As you receive this feedback, it’s imperative that you take notes and ask questions if you don’t fully understand something. Those in leadership roles know the price of communication failures and will likely welcome your desire to ensure you clearly understand their feedback.

With the feedback and notes from the meeting, develop a plan to enact the feedback, suggestions, and directives set forth by leadership.

These directives will likely play a key role in your future conversations with leadership, and being prepared to answer them confidently is pivotal to your success.

How Effective Communication with Executive Leadership Benefits You as a Sales Manager

Learning to effectively communicate with your organization’s executives helps your leadership quickly understand and act upon information from the sales department; however, it also directly impacts your success as a sales manager.

You inspire success and improved performance within your sales team.

When a sales team’s manager is an effective communicator and works well with leadership, the entire sales system of an organization becomes all the more impactful.

By virtue of your ethical leadership within the sales team, executives can rely upon you to impart sales goals clearly and establish clear pathways for the sales team to achieve those goals.

In addition, your sales team is able to come to you confidently for ethical guidance and instruction, knowing that you always keep their best interests at heart when guiding them towards sales success and professional improvement.

You improve the relationship between sales and executive leadership.

Through your continual honing of interpersonal skills, over time, both your sales team and leadership will look to you as the bridge that makes communication between the two worlds easy and effective.

Your sales team will look to you as a leader, understanding that not only do you want what’s best for their sales and professional development, but that you understand how to impart their needs to leadership in a manner that achieves effective results.

In turn, your leadership will see you as a key player in the organization’s overall sales success.

Having a sales manager who takes initiative, actively listens, puts customers first, and communicates between departments effectively is an invaluable asset.

You gain increased opportunities to position yourself for advancement.

By becoming a trusted source of communication between the sales teams and leadership, your insight and perspective concerning sales will become increasingly sought after by leadership.

Over time, your command of company sales knowledge, glowing reputation with sales teams, and your consistent history of performance and insightful communication can present rich opportunities for advancement to higher leadership positions within your organization.

Your Strategies and Tips for Communication Success

Are you a seasoned sales leader or an executive at your organization? What do you look for in effective communicators and what tips might you have for aspiring sales managers?

We would love to hear your thoughts and discuss your insights in the Facebook comments below!

References

  1. Johlke, M. C., et al. “An Integrated Model of Sales Managers Communication Practices.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 28, no. 2, Jan. 2000, pp. 263–277., doi:10.1177/0092070300282007.
  2. Robles, Marcel M. “Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace.” Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 4, Aug. 2012, pp. 453–465., doi:10.1177/1080569912460400.
  3. Brashear, Thomas G., et al. “An Empirical Test of Trust-Building Processes and Outcomes in Sales Manager–Salesperson Relationships.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 31, no. 2, Jan. 2003, pp. 189–200., doi:10.1177/0092070302250902.

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