Your sales team has been doing their jobs one way for years, and it’s not working anymore. It’s time to change—but where do you start? Taking an organization from one direction to a different direction is extremely painful. It requires dealing with egos, organizational behavior, and organizational culture. It also requires a plan, a roadmap, and a lot of time.
At SRi, we’ve been changing sales organizations for 15 years, and we’ve determined five key focus areas to help you start on the right path to changing your sales organization—and making more money.
Overcoming Resistance in Change Management
Before you can start, you’ll need to address two areas that can lead to change resistance from your team and colleagues.
- You have to understand what exactly needs to change. Take a hard look at your organization and figure out what’s working and not working—and why you’re considering change in the first place. Write it down. Analyze it. And make sure you can articulate it to others. If you need help identifying gaps in your sales organization, take SRi's Sales Organization Assessment and receive a customized report.
- You need to get buy-in. There’s a lot of work involved in change, and you need the leadership team and key people on board. To gain buy-in, you’ll need to inspire your team. Go back to why you’re considering change in the first place. Now write down what your organization will look like once the new vision is adopted. Use this when you talk about the change initiative to others—inspire them by painting a clear picture of what’s behind the door.
Change Management is More Than Leadership Development
Change management is a top-down initiative, but motivational leadership is not a golden ticket to organizational change. To achieve lasting results there are 5 key things you’ll need to keep in mind as you put together your plan for change.
1. Inspection is Key
“Russians like to talk in proverbs”, Suzanne Massie advised Ronald Raegan. Shortly after, Raegan coined the Russian proverb—trust, but verify. As a leader, you need to know your sales team’s day-to-day activities. Maybe some of your people need help, but they don’t want to tell you. When you’re involved, you’ll see and understand your team’s needs and challenges. But most importantly, you’ll see if your team is doing the right thing. If your team is not presenting a cohesive message, upselling, or moving prospects down the sales process, you’ll know and you’ll be able to fix it. So inspection is a big part of change—it helps you identify what exactly is blocking sales success.
2. Mindset and Culture
Once you see what your front-line sales force is doing, you’ll start seeing things differently. Your mindset and outlook will change, and you’ll start connecting yourself to your team on a new level. You’ll give more meaningful and personalized feedback and suggestions, you’ll find new ways to motivate the team, and you’ll think of new tools to enable your team given their strengths and weaknesses. Change in mindset connects you back to the company culture—culture that values employees and inspires them to be better than they were yesterday. It’s powerful stuff. You can’t change the organization if you don’t understand the culture.
3. Organizational Behavior
Change starts with people. And people have big egos. There are two ways to encourage new behavior and adoption of new sales processes and tools:
Identify the Change Agents
Change agents are employees open and willing to change. In fact, they’re excited that it’s finally happening. Their positive outlook and enthusiasm is contagious, and because they’re not the boss, other sales reps are likely to be receptive. Change agents can spark friendly competition encouraging everyone else to keep up and adopt new ways of doing things. Find these people and figure out how to utilize them to spread the change movement.
Element of surprise
There’s nothing comfortable about change, so get your people uncomfortable. They shouldn’t feel like this is a temporary activity. If they do, they’re unlikely to adopt new techniques, tools, and processes—they’ll play a long temporarily and then go back to business as usual. Find ways to keep your team on their toes by holding them accountable. Like with small children, you’ll have to enforce the rules until it becomes a habit.
4. Sales Process
Think of a rail road track. The train follows a pathway and stops at each stop, or milestone, to check-in without interruptions. That’s what a sales process does. There are several steps each sales rep must follow—checking-in along the way to make sure everything is on track. If your sales team is skipping steps, they’re missing critical parts of the sales process and they’re likely losing businesses. The few times skipping steps works is because the sales rep did something magical. Don’t encourage this. Whatever worked, probably can’t be replicated. However, the steps in an established sales process can be. A process provides structure and standardization that makes new initiatives easy to implement—not chaotic. If you want lasting change, you need to have a process that everyone follows.
5. Sales Team Efficiency
In each step of the process, your sales team needs to know what to do—and they need to become efficient. Think of account management—what happens if half of your sales team doesn’t know exactly what they should be doing to manage each account? They’ll waste a lot of time doing the wrong tasks, or they’ll waste a lot time researching the information they need to do the right task. To be efficient, your sales team needs the right tools with crystal-clear instruction for how they should be using these tools. Having a framework and structure, prevents things like having only one sales rep with a relationship in an account. What happens when that person leaves? You’ll lose the account. Use frameworks and tools—they’ll help you identify and prevent things you haven’t thought of before.
Why Change Management Fails
There’s a lot of work involved in change. And many CEOs underestimate how much effort it takes to change an organization. So they will usually do two things—they’ll hire a VP of Sales to analyze, fix, and change the sales organization, or they’ll dump change on their current VP of Sale’s long to-do list.
Here’s why hiring a VP of Sales doesn’t always work:
- They get put under an incredible amount of pressure to make the number, close deals, and keep the sales team on track.
- This takes a lot of time. The VP of Sales doesn’t have time to focus on the key elements involved to make change successful. If your VP of Sales has the time, it’s best to make sure they’re way ahead on making the number this year.
- Culture is key to change. A new VP of Sales may not truly understand your culture yet, or doesn’t know your culture. All of a sudden it’s not the company’s culture anymore—it’s the VP of Sales. And the CEO hates that.
It’s not to say a VP of Sales can’t deliver on the promise of change. They can, but you may need to sacrifice your revenue goal because they probably won’t have the time to do their job, manage the sales team, and plan and execute the change initiative.
If you’re not ready to sacrifice your revenue target, sales consultanting can help. Here's how sales consultatants approach change:
- Conduct a deep-dive discovery to identify hidden revenue blockers and gaps in your organization
- Get to know your customers and your culture—you can’t change an organization if you don’t understand the culture.
- Bring proven methodologies, strategies, and processes—and help you execute, implement, and adopt the change across the organization.
At Sales Result, we understand change and we know how to get you from point A to point B. If you think it’s time for a change, schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with one of our sales experts.