The hardest thing for any person or organization to do is change. Why? Because most of us lack direction on how to change, preferring to stay in our comfort zone. But sales people do change when given a healthy dose of hard cold reality. It could be that revenue numbers are down or your sales manager is hitting you over the head with a stick, but in either case, change is hard. That’s why it is critical that the change comes from the top down, whereby sales leaders effect change by consistently working at it every day.
I recently heard a story about a sales organization that has over the years been very successful. Their sales people have been at the company for a long time and they have become comfortable in how they sell. Too comfortable. Ok, complacent. As a result, their approach has become very antiquated. Very little discovery is done, there is no curiosity driving them to understand what the key stakeholders want or need, and they do little to no prep internally. And, forget about bringing any insights to their prospective clients. In essence, they are just winging it. It’s not surprising that they are not making the money they used to. What is surprising, however, is they are still resistant to making any changes in their approach or methods.
Typically people have to be shown how to change and why change is good. This is why it is critical for an organization’s sales leadership team to be part of fostering the change.
Here are 4 things you can do to effect change in a way that makes sense to the organization and the people who work there – even if they are the top sales performers and do not think they need to change.
– When sales leaders explain what they are trying to accomplish, why they are making the change, and lay out a specific plan as to how they will affect the change, this allows the sales organization to understand the bigger picture – where you are now and where you want to go. For maximum impact, the company’s sales leaders should ensure they relay the information from the client’s point of view, from the organization’s point of view and from the individual’s point of view.
– There has to be accountability throughout the organization to effect change, and everyone needs to understand the role they play and why their part is important.
– Now that you know the message and ownership is identified at all levels, you have to enact a plan that practices what you preach. Too often, a new initiative is just the next flavor of the month. If you want to effect change throughout an organization, you must effectively lead by changing the nature of the conversations, implementing new sales best practices, and integrating what is working with what needs to be changed.
– The most objective way to hold people accountable is by tracking progress of the new initiative(s). Typically, there should be 3-5 key sales metrics that the organization is tracking at multiple levels. Think about how to track leading indicators versus lagging indicators to better understand where the change process is succeeding and where improvement is needed.
Is your organization or group trying to effect change? We would love to know what is working for you and your organization, what you have learned, and what you would do differently next time.