Whether it’s a modified sales process, updated compensation plan, or new sales tool, change management can be one of the most challenging obstacles that sales teams face. The ability to lead change can make or break the success of your team’s ability to adapt to major business changes, so it’s important to implement an effective change management strategy to help your reps adopt change within your organization.
What is change management?
Change management is an organization’s approach to prepare individuals or teams when making an organizational change. This can be a change in goals, process, or technologies. In today’s changing B2B landscape, industries continue to evolve and companies must find ways to adapt with the times in order to stay competitive.
Harvard Business Review reports that 70% of all change initiatives fail. In today’s rapidly evolving environment, failure simply isn’t an option. With this in mind, we’ve outlined four key steps to consider when executing successful change within your organization:
- Identifying the problem
- Communicating to stakeholders
- Training and enablement
- Tracking success and getting feedback
In order to implement change, you must identify a problem or a gap. Are you facing low quota attainment? Is sales rep productivity down? There are countless challenges an organization can face, and it’s important to clearly and specifically identify the core problem. For example, if sales rep productivity is low, manual processes may need to be automated. Sales reps might be spending too much time loading information into your CRM system or searching through disparate systems to find what they need to send to a prospect. Dig into your team’s current processes so you can understand the root of any existing bottlenecks.
After a specific issue is identified, it’s time to research possible solutions. It’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each solution in order to select the best one for your company. Our 2018 State of Sales Enablement reports that nearly 70% of respondents are facing more complex sales processes. The last thing you want to do is add more complexities to the challenges that your sales reps face Make sure that your selected solution fits as seamlessly into your sales reps’ current workflow as possible. If it doesn’t, you’ll be at risk for low adoption rates of your solution.
Lastly, make sure you establish measurable goals for success. There are many metrics that your organization can measure, such as seller adoption, quota attainment, deal velocity, and seller turnover. You’ll also want to ensure that processes are in place to measure success in order to know whether or not the change is making a valuable impact.
Key Questions to Consider:
- Are there areas for improvement or optimization in my company’s sales processes?
- What are the specific pain points that my sales reps are facing in these processes?
- What are the possible solutions and what are the goals of implementing these solutions?
Communicate early and communicate often. The best policy when it comes to change management is complete transparency with your sales reps on what needs to change, and more importantly, why this change needs to happen.
It’s best to get everybody on the same page as early as possible, so the sooner you can connect with them, the better. It’s natural for people to resist change. Start by listing out all of the teams in your sales org and understanding how each of the parties that will be impacted by the upcoming change. Think about the things that are important to each group, so you can address how specific benefits are applied to them and their role. Lead by communicating the benefits rather than the new changes so they understand upfront what’s in it for them and why change is necessary.
One of the best ways to start would be to lock down executive sponsorship. If leadership is on board with the plan, the sales team will follow. Think of the benefits that are most applicable to sales leadership, such as increased quota attainment and sales productivity, and then walk them through how these goals can be achieved.
You can also try identifying a few high-performing sales reps who can act as internal evangelizers and let them know why this change is important. Give them an opportunity to be a part of the process so that when change is rolled out to the team, their peers can look to them for guidance and support.
Key Questions to Consider:
- Who are the stakeholders and when is the best time to involve them in the process?
- What do each of these stakeholders care about and how does this change impact them?
- Who will be your internal evangelizers and how are they going to help impact adoption?
SiriusDecisions “The Pulse Ongoing Sales Training and Development” found that high-performing organizations were 56% more likely than others to indicate that training delivery and reinforcement methods are highly effective. Alan Gonsenhauser, Research Director at SiriusDecisions, noted that “enablement is often an underutilized lever to support change efforts” and “[p]roviding employees with needed coaching, mentoring, short- and long-term training, and proactive professional development can be a very important and effective tactic to institutionalize the desired behaviors values and attitudes of a change effort.”
SiriusDecisions has found that high-performing organizations root their training in personal interactions. Mediums such as video roleplays, podcasts, and playbooks all work best when combined with personal coaching and feedback for long-term education and reinforcement. Blending technology and human interaction can provide a scalable way to train your reps and inject more personalized training and feedback when and where your sales reps need it.
It’s important to make sure you’re providing your team not just with initial training, but continued enablement. Be vocal about the successes that the changes have made, and amplify best practices across your sales org. If a sales reps has closed a deal with help from a new tool, give them a shoutout, or if they’ve managed to find a new way to use the tool, share those best practices across the team.
Key Questions to Consider:
- What tools do you currently have that help to blend technology and personal training for your sales reps?
- What will your training cadence be for your sales team?
- How do you plan to amplify best practices across the entire sales team?
Think back to the goals established when you were identifying the initial problem. Make sure that you have established the processes in place to measure these goals so that when it comes time to evaluate success, you have the data you need. Also establish a timeline of when you would like to hit certain benchmarks to keep moving forward. For example, if you’re measuring sales rep adoption of a new tool, check in every week to see what percentage of your sales reps are using the tool. Ideally, there will be increased adoption every week, but if adoption starts to decline, you can address the issue in a timely manner.
Aside from seller adoption rates, other key metrics to consider include selling time, deal velocity, and quota attainment. These metrics might take longer to see results, so recording the most current numbers prior to the change will give you something to benchmark against.
Also be sure to get qualitative feedback from your sales team on how they are dealing with the new change. Change is a continuous process that requires finessing along the way. Feedback from your reps will give you insight into what adjustments might be helpful in further achieving your goals. Surveys, polls, meetings, and even focus groups can help you in determining where further improvements can be made.
Key Questions to Consider
- What are the metrics you will measure to track quantitative success?
- How will you go about getting qualitative feedback from your sales team?
- What are your benchmark goals and how often will you measure them?
Effective change management is a key element in staying competitive in the ever-changing sales landscape. It’s important to stay on top of the most effective ways to communicate and train your reps so you know the best ways to approach leading change for your sales team. Check out our Modern Sellers Infographic to learn more about what today’s modern seller looks like and how they work.