In sales it can be extremely frustrating and stressful when you’re working on an enterprise deal, but one of your colleagues in another department is not communicating.
For example, maybe you have a $1million deal that is about to close.
But before signing the dotted line, the client has some final technical questions about how your product will integrate into their existing system. Answering these questions is outside your area of expertise, so you reach out to someone on your product team for answers.
You send them an Email and a Slack message… No response.
A day later, you send them a second email and Slack message… Still no response.
The longer you wait, the more your mind starts to spiral with intrusive thoughts…
What if they don’t respond? What if I upset the client? Or what if I lose this deal and miss my target because of it?
While your mind is spiraling, things get worse when the client emails you looking for an update to their questions. You start to feel consumed by panic, frustration and anger. You feel the pressure from your client, but your hands are tied while you wait for your product person to respond.
What the hell are they doing over there? I’m going to lose this deal because they’re not communicating!
Then just before you’re about to shut down for the day and take a breather, your manager asks…
When do you think that deal is going to close?
The Silent Company Culture Killer
This situation is far too common within enterprise sales.
They may start as judgmental thoughts in your head, but it’s not long before you’re venting about the product person to another colleague…
How did they get hired?
What’s wrong with them?
They are so bad at their job.
Having these conversations may help you feel better in the moment, but unless the root cause is resolved, your Mental Health and company culture will continue to be impacted.
So in these moments… How do we approach our colleague who is not communicating and putting the deal at risk?
We need to learn how to hold team members accountable, while being patient and supportive at the same time. An extremely difficult task to accomplish when anger and frustration is clouding our judgement.
I found myself in a situation like this recently. Fortunately, I was able to find this balance between accountability and support; so hopefully the message I sent below will do the same for you.
Email Template To Send To Colleague Who Is Not Communicating:
“(Insert name) – do you have an update on X?
Also out of curiosity, what is your preferred method of communication?
This is urgent so if working through email is not ideal, I’d be happy to call, text or meet in person if that’s better for you.
Just let me know what works best so we can move this deal for the company forward, because the client is expecting answers before the end of the week.“
Why it works?
Sending a message like this works because it keeps your message objective and about behavior; rather than subjective and about the type of person you judge them to be in that moment.
It also addresses the problematic behavior (communication via email), while being understanding to the fact that they may have a more preferred method of communication (text, call or in person).
Finally, creating a team objective (moving the deal forward for the company) and reiterating the clients expectations, creates urgency and motivates both parties to better understand each other.
After sending the email above, this was the email I received back:
“I apologize for the delay. A few colleagues have quit recently, so their workload became my workload and I’ve been feeling extremely overwhelmed.
I’ll get you those answers today.”
They continued to respond promptly in our email exchanges afterwards, but I was shocked by the moment of clarity I experienced after receiving their response.
For 48 hours I had allowed my judgements to paint the worst picture possible of this person in my head. Earlier in my career I would have let my emotions get the better of me and would have sent an angry or snarky email, which would have been destructive.
What a mistake that would have been to send a hurtful message to someone who was simply trying their best.
Key Take-Away When A Colleague Is Not Communicating
Communication breakdowns and the sending of nasty emails/ slack messages happens thousands of times a day. My hope is the exchange above acts as a helpful reminder that it’s impossible to fully know what’s going on in someone else’s world. Especially if they’re in a different department and working remotely.
When someone is not communicating, it can often be a sign that they’re struggling with their Mental Health.
Before hitting send on that next angry email/slack message to someone who is being unresponsive; try taking a breath and giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Call out the problematic behavior, but get curious and lean into learning more about their communication style.
We succeed as salespeople when we align with the communication styles of buyers. Our daily Mental Health will benefit when we also learn to align with the communication styles of the peers and colleagues we work with internally.
To explore more ways to improve communication with your sales team, click on the training button below. Our programs are crafted specifically to help salespeople and teams improve sales performance through better Mental Health.
About The Author
Jeff Riseley is currently the Founder of the Sales Health Alliance and Mental Health Advocate. With over a decade of sales experience – Jeff understands the importance of Mental Health in achieving peak sales performance.
Jeff combines his sales and Mental Health expertise to improve sales performance through mental health best practices. His strategies have helped sales teams become more motivated, resilient and better equipped to tackle stressful events within sales.