Challenging Messages

Challenging Messages

Even in the best of times, change can be stressful — and these are hardly the best of times.  If you are faced with announcing a less than welcome change, how you position the message dramatically influences how your sales team will hear it.  The following are some ideas to help you and your team deal with the change:

Prepare Your Communication Strategy:  Where and When

Carefully consider timing and impact.

  • Deliver the message to people impacted, face-to-face whenever possible.
  • Decide on one-on-one or team.
  • Be strategic and if there are a few people in your “inner circle,” seek their support   before you deliver the message to the full group.

Be Ready When You Deliver the Message

  • Prepare the message you want to communicate to ensure you are clear and concise.
  • Be prepared with facts, information, timelines.
  • Choose your words carefully.
  • Think about your audience.  In a change situation, the first question on people’s minds is:  How is this going to affect me?
  • Structure the message so people are able to hear it and comprehend what it means.
  • Start by selling the need for change, not by describing the change.  Starting with the why will help you get buy-in.
  • Position the strategic importance and whatever benefits of the change.

Describe the change:

  • What will change.
  • What will remain the same.
  • Discuss what support will be given.
  • Ask for questions/concerns to uncover resistance around the change:  What are your questions or concerns about the impact this might have on you? Be prepared to address questions and keep the focus on what is in it for them.
  • Be patient, empathic, and clarify broad questions before answering.
  • Avoid being defensive.
  • Discuss where in the process you will need your team’s support.  Ask for their support. 
  • Express your support.

Project a Positive Attitude

Your attitude about change is contagious.  Your team is looking to you for cues for how to respond.  Be empathic, strong, supportive, clear, and encouraging.