How to avoid costly miscommunication in your sales team

A flip chart with a declining graph, flanked by user avatars and dollar symbols, against a salmon-colored background.

A new car is expensive. Your daily latte habit is expensive (relatively speaking). Costs are rising in just about every area of our lives. But communication breakdowns? Please don’t say those are expensive too.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Like just about everything else in our lives, poor internal communication is costly. And our current way of working and communicating is only making the problem worse.

We waste a lot of time and money in the workplace simply managing the onslaught of overcommunication. Not to mention the time wasted searching for hard-to-find resources, clarifying poor instructions, or fixing mistakes due to misunderstandings.

And no one feels this squeeze more than sales teams.

By some estimates, sales reps only spend about 35% of their time actively selling. A lot of that wasted time is used up looking for information, slogging through lengthy materials, and sitting in meetings that don’t really need to be meetings at all.

Poor internal communication costs your sales team… a lot. And if you aren’t using modern tools like video to streamline and improve your communication, you’re leaving money on the table.

Why internal communication breakdowns are so expensive

When Adobe surveyed over 1,000 American workers in 2021, they discovered we spend an average of 149 minutes each weekday managing work-related emails.

But when it comes to losses, the black hole that calls itself email is only the tip of the iceberg. We spend an insane amount of time and money waiting for information, managing overcommunication, and dealing with the effects of poor coordination.

Consider these stats:

Miscommunication is costly.

  • Companies lose an average of $26,000 per employee, per year, because of communication barriers that lead to lost productivity.
  • For the largest companies, this amounts to $62.4 million each year in losses due to miscommunication.

We waste a lot of time just trying to understand each other.

  • Confusing or misunderstood instructions cost the average employee over 170 hours in wasted time each year.
  • If you think this doesn’t apply to your company, think again: 48% of employees say they often get confusing directions at work.

It’s hard to keep good people if your communication is poor.

  • Companies with poor internal communications are 50% more likely to have high employee turnover.

Improving your internal communication makes a big difference on all fronts.

  • Companies with highly effective communication have 47% higher total returns to shareholders over five years compared to those with poor communication.

Employee engagement (which has a lot to do with communication) is linked to sales growth.

  • Yale researchers discovered that highly engaged sales reps successfully upsell customers more often than disengaged reps.

Create videos that drive action

Activate your audience with impactful, on-brand videos. Create them simply and collaboratively with Biteable.

The growing performance gap (and how communication figures in)

On one hand, there’s the possibility of a high-performing sales team. And then there’s reality.

Research by Harvard Business Review shows that the most successful companies are also the most productive. While this might not come as a surprise, the sheer size of the performance gap is startling.

The highest-performing companies were a full 40% more productive than their counterparts. (Spoiler alert: communication plays a big part in this gap.)

According to Harvard researchers, the most productive companies had three things in common.

Minimal distractions

Employees at the most productive companies spend less time each day on distractions like excessive communications, unnecessary meetings, and bureaucratic procedures.

In other words, they exchange information in the most efficient ways possible. And if they need to access more information during the course of their work, they don’t have to cut through a lot of red tape to get there.

Good leadership

The highest-performing companies also have good talent to work with. But there’s more to success than hiring a good team. Harvard found that at high-performing companies, the best talent was deployed well, teamed well, and led well.

These employees performed well in large part because their leaders clearly communicated their expectations and then gave them access to the resources they needed to meet those expectations.

High engagement

Employees at these companies were engaged. They understood the big picture and how they fit into it. (Because someone communicated this to them on a regular basis.) They felt recognized and valued by their team, and this motivated them to invest more energy into doing good work.

Our current way of working makes the problem worse

This all sounds simple enough. But closing that performance gap through better communication is easier said than done.

The way we work today is very different from the way we worked just a few years ago. Some of this has to do with the pandemic’s shift to remote work, and some of it has been a long time coming.

Remote sales teams are here to stay. Salesforce says 46% of sales teams expect to be working remotely for the foreseeable future. This inevitably makes communication more difficult. But even those sales teams who’ve returned to in-person work have noticed a shift.

Remote or in person, we’re buried in information like never before.

Email is a time suck — and it doesn’t work

Back to that Adobe survey on time wasted managing emails. We spend 149 minutes every day on email and if you do the math, that’s over six hundred hours, or two full work weeks.

But just because we spend a lot of time on email, that doesn’t mean we’re getting what we need from it. Axios estimates only 5% of staff make it past the first few lines of any internal update.

And we haven’t even factored in time spent on meetings (live or Zoom).

Meetings cost a lot of money

When Blackdot asked 2,000 sales reps about their meeting habits, they found the average rep spends 6.4 hours each week preparing for and attending internal meetings. Those same reps said less than half of this time (45%) was actually productive and value adding.

In Blackdot’s estimate, this amounts to an annual loss of half-a-million dollars in wages per every 100 sales reps. To say nothing of the lost sales revenue because reps were tied up in all those unnecessary meetings.

Employees are disengaged more than ever

A study by Bain and Company shows that the further away an employee is from the CEO, the more engagement drops. Employees on the front line, like your sales reps, don’t always have a sense of the big picture, which is a huge part of feeling engaged and motivated at work.

Your reps aren’t getting enough information about the company’s long-term goals. Even though they’re out there pounding the proverbial pavement every day, they don’t necessarily hear how all their hard work is making a real difference in the lives of the customer.

And (surprise, surprise) the more engagement drops, the more performance drops. A study by Dale Carnegie found companies with engaged employees out-performed those without by up to 202%.

Or, put in monetary terms: Best Buy found for every percentage point increase in employee engagement, annual operating income rose by approximately $100K.

How to change the way you communicate with your sales team

We communicate plenty at work. But a lot of what we say ends up being background noise.

To be effective in today’s world of work, we need to communicate in a way that engages people, aligns them around a common purpose, and motivates them to take action toward that purpose.

The Three Magic A’s

At Biteable, we like to call this type of effective communication “The Three Magic A’s”. (Yes, we’re a little cheesy sometimes. But bear with us.)

Awareness: When everyone knows that something important exists or will be happening.

Your reps are informed about changes to customer buying habits, marketing goals, product developments, and the like.

Alignment: When everyone understands their shared purpose.

This is true inside your sales team, between partner teams like sales-marketing alignment, and across the company as a whole. The bottom line is that your reps need to understand the big picture, what they’re working toward, and why it matters.

Action: When everyone knows what needs to be done to achieve the shared purpose.

Your reps understand where they should be headed, and they also have the tools, directions, and motivation to get there.

When it comes to building a high-performing sales team, these three magic A’s can work — well, magic. But to get there, you have to have the right communication tools.

Video as your communications secret weapon

In his TED talk, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei points out that we humans aren’t conditioned to read lengthy blocks of text anymore.

“We look at subject lines, headlines, maybe a tweet, then move on…In most cases, you want to know what is new and why it matters — then get on with your life.”

Three-hundred word emails, long-winded meetings, convoluted Slack message chains — these tools don’t fit with the way our brains take in and process information. Your sales team lives in a digital world. They’re used to consuming it in bite-sized pieces.

That’s where video shines. Short, polished videos have a serious leg up for creating those magic A’s.

Video is bite-sized and attention-grabbing

By now, our brains are used to consuming information through video. So much so that 72% of people say they prefer to learn about products and services through video.

A complex topic could take pages to explain in writing, but minutes to explain through video.

Video is memorable

People retain 95% of the information they get from a video, compared to 10% of what they read. If you manage a sales team that needs to keep up on an ever-changing landscape, that extra 85% in retention goes a long way.

Video is on-demand

Your reps don’t always need your updates and training sessions when you first deliver them. But five minutes before a scheduled sales call that’s destined to become complicated? That set of market stats sure would come in handy right about now.

With the right video maker, like Biteable Teams, each of your videos is easily accessible through a unique link. House them in a video library for one-click access whenever your reps need them.

Close the performance gap with Biteable Teams

Adding video to your internal sales communications makes your messages more engaging, memorable, and actionable. Make your first sales engagement video with Biteable Teams — no experience necessary.

Branded templates take the guesswork out of the equation, giving you a polished video in minutes, not hours. Trackable stats and a seamless workflow seals the deal.

Plug in your information and go, or customize any of Biteable’s templates (or start entirely from scratch). With over 1.8 million stock images, video clips, and unique animations to choose from, the sky’s the limit.


Make stunning videos
with ease.

Take the struggle out of team communication.

Try Biteable now.