Two years ago, Thierry Breton, the CEO of Atos, a European IT services and consulting provider, announced that in three years, Atos would no longer use internal email. Some viewed this statement with skepticism, while others called it visionary. Atos’ plan is to shift its internal communications from email to a social business solution. The Atos Zero-Email strategy is still active, but the company has not publicly announced which alternative tools it intends to use for internal communication. Some announcements have discussed the use of instant messaging along with social media platforms.

What about your sales force? Could this be a reasonable course of action?

Email has benefited from decades of evolution. Like a phone number, an email address is unique and does not require proprietary software or tools. Few other tools allow for such easy communication across software that is similar, but not identical.

Years ago, reps had only a few internal communication tools – mail (yes, the slow kind), a telephone (with a cord) and in-person meetings (gasp). As we’ve moved into the social communication age, many platforms that launched with high expectations have suffered lackluster results from poor planning. For example, Chatter is offered as a free tool, but does that mean reps should be using it? And if so, how?

Before launching a new internal communications tool, create a plan that includes the following:

  • Specific goals and uses for the tool. Clarity is critical to the success of any solution. Launching without guidance leads to low adoption. Sales teams can use a solution to share best practices, common challenges and promote recent wins.
  • Moderate the conversations. There must be someone assigned to oversee the conversations, bring in other team members to discuss specific topics and keep discussions in check.
  • Seed the conversation and involve senior leadership. No one likes to be the first one to the party, so it is critical to build topics before launching the new communications tool to the larger sales organization. A pilot team can be a great way to seed conversations. This team can also measure the level of reps’ comfort with the new technology.
  • Limit notifications. Most social platforms push notifications to users to increase adoption. In business, these are more of a distraction than a convenience, forcing the user to continually manage the app. Notifications are pushed to email, adding to inbox clutter and leaving reps to wonder how this new solution adds value over email. Allowing users to opt in for notifications rather than needing to opt out will improve adoption.
  • As communication tools continue to evolve, the sales enablement team should carefully consider each new tool, determining its possible benefit to reps while filtering out the buzz about other options.