Change is hard, which explains why some people still have the Flock of Seagulls hairstyle (you know who you are). Change in the workplace is even more difficult. It can disrupt workflows, induce anxiety, and create uncertainty in the workplace. One of the biggest challenges with change implementation is overcoming pushback and creating buy-in from sales teams.
With any change, the goal is to transition as smoothly as possible. Whether it’s shifting the organizational structure or implementing new software (or changing hairstyles), success relies on strategy and communication. Research by McKinsey & Company indicates changes in organizations fail 70% of the time. That figure is staggering!
In this article, we’ll discuss the six strategies for change management to help your organization avoid common pitfalls.
Ensure the Solution Addresses a Specific Need
If it’s not broken, why fix it? New solutions need to address a specific problem or need. Change for the sake of change is rarely successful.
Sales teams are comfortable with their existing tools. They understand potential risk areas that may impact their workflow. Adoption of a new solution is unlikely if it doesn’t solve an immediate need. Identifying and addressing real (not perceived) pain points will assist in gaining organizational buy-in.
For example, if an organization has an issue with capturing audio from sales calls, a solution for pipeline management should not be the top priority. Leadership would be better served by finding a meeting intelligence solution. The result will enable salespeople to focus on selling rather than losing time to administrative tasks, thus addressing a real problem.
When changes occur, don’t leave employees in the dark. Being transparent and providing clear communication eases anxiety and promotes trust. This approach also prevents rumors about what changes are taking place from circulating the office. Nothing will hinder a project more than gossip fueled by uncertainty.
Defined policies for internal communication ensure the right message reaches employees. Leadership should develop a talk track for why a change is taking place and why it’s necessary. Keep the discussion to 3-4 easily defined points. It’s easier to prevent rumors when messaging is straightforward and concise.
Find the Internal Advocate
Internal advocates can be the cheerleaders for change. It’s easier to create buy-in when influencers are on board and can help promote upcoming changes. Explaining the bigger picture and why the change is necessary for success creates advocates before communicating to the entire organization.
Addressing a small team of advocates first also provides an opportunity to receive feedback and refine future communication before it reaches the rest of the organization. This select group intimately understands their team and the frustrations associated with change. They can help develop the talking points and ask questions that leadership may not have considered, which provide leadership with insight into potential roadblocks resulting from the change.
Provide Ongoing Training
You wouldn’t use a hammer to cut down a tree. Tools are most effective when used for their intended purpose. Training the sales team on how to correctly use a new technology promotes faster adoption.
Providing ongoing training develops familiarity with the new solution and can circumvent potential problems. You can’t expect a sales team to adopt a tool they don’t fully understand how to utilize to their benefit. Employees will revert to old techniques, which defeats the purpose of the change entirely.
Training is also an opportunity to gather feedback on a new technology. Documenting questions and discussions in training sessions help the leadership team understand the effectiveness of their communication strategy. Providing surveys to rate the implementation process is a great way for employees to provide anonymous and candid feedback. Leadership can understand the problems that need to be addressed without singling out employees. Feedback enables leadership to learn from the past and prepare for future implementations.
Measuring project success is vital to understanding the effectiveness of a change. If the sales team doesn’t view a technology as beneficial, gaining buy-in in the future may prove difficult. It’s similar to when your parents encouraged you to eat your vegetables. If they don’t measure your height on the door frame, then how do you know the vegetables are making you tall?
Harvard Business Review determines the effectiveness of change by measuring the DICE factors. DICE measures four essential elements: Duration, Integrity, Commitment, and Effort. These four pieces are key factors in ensuring a successful implementation. An organization can predict the effectiveness of a project by focusing on these areas. What DICE boils down to is the commitment to a project, defining the project duration, and prioritizing communication.
Regardless of the size or scope of a project, it’s important for leadership to remain proactive. Scheduling bi-monthly meetings provides an opportunity to address potential issues before they become problems. Ignoring complications hinders a project’s success and can lead to failure.
New solutions aren’t magically adopted overnight. Change requires strategy, communication, and buy-in in order to be successful. If salespeople sense a change may increase their administrative workload, it will negatively impact adoption. Selling the benefits of a new technology is an important aspect of change management.
As with any sales process, providing clear data supporting the need for the new technology and how it will positively impact performance are essential. Change management is most effective when teams believe a solution will improve their sales process and solve a problem. Creating buy-in from the sales team ensures change implementation is successful.
Everyone wants the sales team to exceed quota. Changing technologies should support quota attainment goal and drive results! Change is necessary for an organization’s long-term success. Focusing on continuously improving the change management strategy ensures future success.
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