Everyone knows that any organizational change must happen from the top down to be successful. How can your organization be sure top-down changes take hold and get results? First, everyone has to know that it’s important.
Throughout our lives, we make decisions on what’s important or not so we know where to focus our time and attention. As kids, we’re told
what’s important—looking both ways when crossing the street, not talking to strangers, that sort of thing. What’s not as important—keeping your room clean, being nice to your sister. And we learn the difference because of how and when it’s communicated to us and by way of example
, under different sets of circumstances.
It’s no different in the business world. Executives need to prepare for and manage change, then reinforce it. They must first tell their people what’s important and what’s not, whether it’s a new methodology, process or tool that’s driving a new way of doing business. Then they need to walk the walk and talk the talk; they need to actually partake and engage in the change. Otherwise, the importance of the change will not reach everyone. If it doesn’t reach everyone, then it doesn’t work.
Something as seemingly simple as the implementation of a CRM system
is a key example of change management that often fails. Many times, senior managers will drive the implementation of the system, but are minimally engaged in the selection, implementation or use of the system. If the executives aren’t asking questions about it, then why should I use it?
Executives should get on board with change early on so they can be part of the solution, understand how they will communicate its importance, and commit to using and engaging in new process, tool or approach. If they do that, then half the problem is solved. I’ve seen sales enablement changes successfully implemented in even the largest organizations where change on such a big scale can be difficult. But because changes were embraced from the top down early on, they succeeded.
And it all starts with the importance of the change. When executive management feels it’s an important change, and everyone understands this, everyone will follow.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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