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Sales Team Change Management Do’s and Dont’s

6 min read
May 26, 2017

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

Modern sales leaders know that making changes within organizations or teams is required to take your company to the next level. Org charts are reorganized and new technologies are implemented all the time to keep organization relevant and give them the leg up on competitors. This is the best move forward.

Now consider introducing such exciting changes to your sales team. Would they see the same big picture that you do? It’s not likely. They are probably more concerned with their growing to-do lists and hitting quota, and who can blame them. You’re more like to get a collection of blank stares and nods, and you know you are about to be the unwelcome topic during lunch.

According to the Harvard Business Review 70% of all change initiatives fail. If your team is resistant to change how can you successfully execute innovation and ease the weight of a transition on your team?

There are all sorts of methods that can help guide your team through a change. For example, the ADKAR method breaks down the change process into five steps — Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement — that need to happen in order to execute a transition with your team. If you need an easy way to remember the acronym think, “If you don’t use ADKAR your team while react like Admiral Akbar.”

It’s important for managers to make transitions as smooth as possible. Here at Salesloft, new customers go through an implementation process to learn our platform. As a former Implementation Success Manager I’ve worked with admins who were fantastic at bringing about change to their teams, and others who needed more assistance. Here are some change management best practices to keep in mind;

DO Recognize the need

As previously mentioned in the ADKAR model, the first two steps are Awareness and Desire. When implementing a large change of new system, it’s important as a manager to be clear on the pain point this change is trying to address. If you’re implementing Salesloft, this might be low success rates or low quota attainment. Whatever the catalyst, this is the entire reason you are putting a change in place.

Once you’re clear on the need for the change, you can begin to create that awareness and desire for that change within your reps. Inspire them to grow and meet their goals. With this as a baseline, transitions can be less daunting.

DON’T Surprise Your Reps

Some managers may think that surprising their reps with a new technology platform will be like offering them a gift. While we know transitions will benefit your team in the long run, change interferes with a person’s daily routine. If you have a team of sales veterans suggesting change is less like unwrapping a present and more like taking away a security blanket.

Ease them into the transition. Present the goals and benefits of the change. Think about it, as the manager you were most likely involved in the transition decision. If you are purchasing a new software or service, I highly recommend to get a recording of your demo for the product to share with your team. Take the time to get your reps bought in.

DO Cater Implementation Specifically to the Group

Knowing your team well, and more specifically knowing their learning styles, can help a team astronomically.

If you have a team full of visual learners, video presentations will be perfect way to educate and enable the team. Plus most webinars can be recorded and sent to the team for review. Maybe your team is more hands on, so after training hold a walk-thru session together. Whatever it takes to get them comfortable in their new routine.

I worked with a team that knew their group wasn’t the most technically savvy. We developed small email cadences so the team could get their feet wet within the new platform rather than feel overwhelmed with an onset of new information. Once they made it through their initial cadences, they were well versed and confident to work through a full cadence.

DON’T Doubt Your Team

Trust. Trust. Trust.

This is a huge one! Understand that it is difficult to learn a new process, fit it in to your day-to-day, and still hit quota. This is the team you brought together, trust that they will make it happen.

An overbearing manager can be as detrimental to a team as a lackluster one. Some teams I’ve worked with in the past have insisted on building everything for their reps; templates, cadences, imported list from Salesforce. But when the users of those groups often wanted to be a part of the building process.

A great tip is to build team templates that your reps can incorporate into their own cadences. This way you provide accurate, approved content, but your team can still make the process their own and personalize those emails with their own voice. It’s a give and take offering a little more control and a lot more trust.

DO Celebrate Success

Use positive reinforcement. Sometimes implementation can be a struggle. When your team starts to succeed, recognize that. Offer words of affirmation or minor incentives to set transitions in place.

In addition, look to find a point person within your team to drive the change. This can be a top performer that the team respects and listens to. The rest of the team can turn to this person with questions and the rep can enjoy taking a lead role.

All in all, as a sales team manager you are behind the wheel driving change management home. The key point with company change management is to realize it’s a group effort. Lead your sales team to through transitions and with progress you can succeed.


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