Communication skills in sales and marketing can be just as essential as producing great results. Without proper expectations, communication, accountability, understanding, and direction to guide your performance, you’ll seem like you’re lagging when you’re really knocking it out of the park.
In this article, I’ll share 10 tips I’ve learned from interviewing one of our team’s B2B account managers. You can apply these account manager tips to various forms of marketing communication, including reporting to your boss and as good client service tips. Why listen to us? Our digital marketing firm has a 5-star average rating with various references to our legendary service.
1. Communicate well
Your job is to become an excellent communicator.
If you can’t clearly articulate your message, that’s a problem. There should never be a misalignment on key performance indicators (KPIs) or what’s expected.
So, where do you turn for developing effective marketing communication? There’s no lack of resources nowadays! Just go on the Internet, to the library, or talk to socially skilled marketers. Learn from someone doing a similar job daily. Reach out to account managers (on LinkedIn or in-person) and ask to shadow them or intern. Ask questions if you’re confused.
Roadblocks and barriers to effective marketing communication or progress will happen. And that’s okay. Work on them—it takes time and practice to improve. Don’t expect to articulate like an expert from the start.
Over-communicate! Make sure there’s clarity on what will be discussed in calls and marketing reports, particularly for the most important details. Ensure that who you report to knows what they’re getting and when they can expect to receive it. Set expectations in a way that they will understand.
2. Be proactive
Address concerns before they become an issue. Bring new ideas to the table ahead of time. If you see an issue with deliverables or a timeline, reach out to your client and discuss it with them.
Being proactive is a great way to build trust. You come across as a partner—someone who’s there to make the business succeed, not just to cash in.
3. Be transparent
We view our clients as partners and try to be 100% transparent with everything we’re doing. We’ll have candid discussions about goals that we fail to hit. If there’s an issue, we let you know. If we’re to blame for the problem, we’ll own up to our mistakes and go above and beyond to make things right. Be transparent about what you’ve done and how you can fix it. People will respect and trust you more than if you try to hide problems—they’ll find out the bad news eventually, anyway.
4. Ensure mutual understanding
A lack of communication or misalignment with KPIs will hinder results and prevent a healthy relationship between you and the person you report to.
Interact constantly to ensure success. Make sure that both sides are clear on any goals, timelines, deliverables, and scope from the start.
Communicate all of these expectations with your team from the get-go to ensure that their work is contributing to established goals.
Make sure you get what you’re paying for. When you’re going over a report, strategy, or other deliverable, the people in the meeting should understand everything. Sometimes, it’s easy for managers to say they understand something when they really don’t. Ask questions that inspire them to give more direct feedback so you can clear up any confusion.
Don’t ask yes-or-no questions. Ask more about how they feel or whether something helps them solve a pain point or answer a question they have. Before you leave a meeting, recap and make sure there’s no misinterpretation of a status report or deliverable.
5. Know everyone’s level of expertise
Communication skills in sales and marketing build off empathy. How well do you know the other person’s perspective based on his or her experiences and knowledge?
Every person is different. Some managers have a senior level of experience with traditional marketing and have never touched digital marketing. If that’s the case, you need to emphasize the important points at a higher level and only dive into the details if they ask you to.
Sometimes, they don’t know what to ask because they’re not familiar with digital advertising. Make sure there’s a mutual understanding of what platforms you’re using, why those were selected over others, and how they work.
Let’s say your CMO doesn’t have experience with PPC platforms. It’s vital you fill in knowledge gaps and highlight KPIs. They likely won’t know what questions to ask to find out what’s working—it’s up to you to explain how the platform works and set expectations.
If someone is well versed in a field, you don’t have to go into as much detail.
6. Know the company and industry—really know them
You’ve got to know the nuances of the business you’re working with. If you don’t, how can you expect to recommend the most effective channels and platforms?
Find out what products, solutions, and service lines the company offers and whom they serve. To understand the industry, see what the innovators, thought leaders, and competitors in the market are doing. These leaders let you understand the industry as a whole if you can’t get that understanding from the company itself. See if they’re running campaigns similar to yours and whether any strategies are particularly innovative.
If you know the company and industry, you can step back and look at the strategy and landscape. You need all this info to serve your team better and put together a plan to win.
7. Tailor communication to each person
You probably don’t need me to remind you that we’re all a little different. We’ve all got our quirks and nuances, especially when it comes to how we communicate. So why should our approaches to reporting and communication be the same?
Address communication and personality styles at the start of a business relationship. In your first meeting, learn a little more about how often someone prefers to communicate and with what tools—calls, texts, emails, Slack, etc. Maybe someone doesn’t want weekly updates even though that’s the standard; in that case, you’d hate to bother the client until they finally tell you to stop.
Reporting is vital. If a boss doesn’t see the value in your report, ask why. Find out what you can add to the report to make it better. Again, never be afraid to ask questions.
8. Get organized
WebMechanix has high standards of organization to help everyone out. Your company should help you stay organized, but you as an individual have a responsibility to do the same. Disorganization will cost you time. And time is not something you have a lot of in marketing.
Good organization will save you time, make your life easier, and help your team. If you can prevent messy communication, you’ll produce better results.
9. Develop great time management
How are your time management skills? How well do you work under pressure? Can you stick to a timeline or get things done under a time crunch? All of these are essential skills for sales and marketing professionals (and really just about anyone).
If you’re not very productive, why? Could it be self-induced? Find out the real issue. On the other hand, if you’d consider yourself good at time management, what particular skills or qualities would you cite? Broadly speaking, how do your life, work, family, and relationships influence your time management, whether positively or negatively? Identify and improve any weaknesses.
If you manage your time poorly, you’ll fall behind. In marketing, you can’t let that happen—you’ll be buried in tasks. And if you’re buried in tasks, you’re going to rush through things and miscommunicate more often than when you’re in control.
Look at your calendar to see what’s coming up in the next couple of hours, days, and weeks to prevent issues and plan ahead. Once again, be proactive.
10. Be decisive
Your team is depending on you to direct strategy and inform them about what’s working. There’s no time to waste being indecisive—you need to make quick, reasoned decisions to ensure the success of your marketing campaign.
While these tips are useful for any marketing role, these tips are perfect for account managers. But how do you know if that’s the role for you? Ask yourself these questions.
- Now, don’t lie to yourself—are you organized? If so, how organized are you?
- How well do you handle your job right now?
- Do you enjoy public speaking or talking to strangers?
- Can you articulate and defend an argument when posed with that situation?
- How do you handle constructive criticism?
If you think you’re a fit, consider applying to be an account manager for WebMechanix one day.
Following these 10 tips will improve your communication skills in sales and marketing. I feel confident that you’ll be much better at your job once you put this advice into action. What was your favorite tip from the article?