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If you are in sales management, sales enablement, sales consulting or sales training, you’ve likely asked your sales people to embrace change driven by new tools, processes and procedures. Do they dig in and resist, or do they give it a chance? Your answer will likely depend on the type of sales people you have on your team.
When a company pays sales people a salary, they expect them to do their jobs. They in turn will do everything they can to make it easier for the sales team to do their job. Sometimes, sales people gain the biggest benefit. Other times, a new process, tool or procedure benefits management by helping them be more efficient. Indirectly, though, sales people will gain value since management’s increased efficiency enables them to spend more time making it easier for them to sell – and hopefully, easier for customers to buy.
So, I do find it interesting when sales people decide when to embrace change and when not to. Some will wait and see if the change will actually stick, while others will either accept it or reject it right off. Here are three different viewpoints about change, depending on the sales person’s experience.
New sales people are the ones who are most likely to embrace change. They are starting with a clean slate with little to no past reference to compare to. If their management, with all of their experience, asks them to use the new tools, processes or procedures, then they most likely will.
The most experienced, seasoned sales people are road warriors. They may be a bit wary of change, but many have enough experience and foresight to know that they are the top performers and have been for decades. They will learn a thing or two and are willing to adapt since they embrace change time and time again.
The only thing that would make a seasoned sales person an “old timer” is if they are unwilling to embrace change. We have heard these sentiments a million times: “I am not going to change. I have been selling for decades and I know what I am doing. These new tools, processes and procedures are only slowing me down and provide zero to little upside.” Yes, I know – You know best and you don’t want to be disturbed while you work your particular brand of magic. It’s one of the things you love about sales: your freedom.
But, think about this… Remember selling before the internet? No laptops, no mobile phones, and no easy access to information about customers and prospects. If you were in direct sales with a defined territory, then you had a calling card and proudly carried around a pad of lined paper in a nice leather folder. You made your calls from your favorite phone booth in some hotel while in any given town or city. Those who did not embrace change over the last few decades are most likely not in sales anymore and have not been for quite a while.
Somewhere in between newbies and old timers are mid-career sales people who have some experience and success under their belts. They also may or may not embrace change. Those who do embrace it tend to desire professional growth, so they at least try to open their minds to new things that can add value and efficiencies and/or remind them of best practices long forgotten.
However, others will choose not to grow. They most likely will do everything they can to avoid change. Why? Who knows. Maybe because they feel they know best. Perhaps they already have a robust, qualified sales pipeline for the next 12-24 months. That might actually shut me up, but unfortunately, robust pipelines are quite rare to see.
Whether your team consists of new, mid-career or seasoned sales person, or a combination of all, change will always come their way. If not now, then perhaps soon. Where do your sales people sit in their willingness to embrace change?