Change is a natural part of working life for any sales organisation that wants to stay modern, and with it is the need for substantial change management. If you do not see your need for consistent change, you're likely stagnating. But because it's normal doesn't mean it's less stressful when significant changes come up in your sales organisation or team.
Change requires everyone to adjust, but morale and productivity shouldn't be catastrophic. So here is my advice when you are about to modernise your sales way of working and facilitate smooth transitions:
First, cultivate a culture of change
When a procedural change creates tension, it's occasionally because your sales organisation and sales reps have grown ineffective. To protect your company against this tendency, your managers need to foster an environment where change is expected.
Here are a few ideas:
In the hiring process, communicate the need for adaptability.
Variate where your colleagues work and their daily routines.
Experiment with having your team members work under various managers.
Challenge your sales reps to carry out new tasks.
By doing a few things like these, you partly communicate that you and your company is a dynamic organisation that not only rolls with change but thrives because of it.
Keep sales up to date on planned changes
All colleagues understand that change happens, but it's challenging to recover from a lack of internal transparency.
Make sure you are straightforward with your team throughout the transition and change process. Announce purposes, policies, training or any other shift as soon as possible to avoid rumours.
Explain the thought process and its purpose, demonstrate how the sales and customers benefit and show that you consider your colleagues as much as your customers.
Keep your colleagues informed throughout the process, and let them know all significant milestones.
Create a plan for day-to-day activities
Significant changes can leave people feeling on the outside. So to create a detailed plan for how sales and business activities will proceed during the transition and change period. No one should be unsure about their responsibilities and what they need to do. And make the detailed plan accessible for everyone.
For procedural changes, it is helpful to gradually implement the transition and changes. If you foster a workplace where change is the norm, your colleagues will be able to pivot to new processes with relative ease.
Delegate tasks during the transition
Significant changes often mean a heavier workload for all, so everyone should step in to fill in the gaps. However, it shouldn't fall on a couple of people alone, even if they volunteer. While some decision-makers or managers may want to step in and try to do everything themselves, that's a recipe for failure.
You must try to distribute the new workload evenly to maximise the chances to achieve the desired change. However, keep an eye on possibly increased workload ión all individuals or new tasks to make sure that the responsible individuals can handle them.
Check-in with colleagues regularly
Even well-planned changes and transitions will run into hiccups along the way. Therefore, you must ensure that your colleagues are comfortable with the changes by staying in close communication and interacting with them.
During the transition process, managers should be evident to the rest of the sales organisation. In addition, managers must be available to anyone who has concerns.
It's not enough to say that your office door is open or that they can contact you. As a manager, you must be present, proactive and meet with colleagues one-on-one. Ask them for direct feedback on how the process is going, listen to their concerns, and, if necessary, follow up with a plan of action.
Keep in mind that when there's a significant change, most people will be concerned about how they will be affected. So please give them the information they need so they can feel comfortable.
Involve colleagues in the change process
Involve your colleagues in the change management process fosters a sense of ownership over any transition. Instead of being relegated to passive observers, all colleagues can feel valued by sales team members.
You must include colleagues of all levels on the committees making significant decisions; their input can refine and enhance your new process. Additionally, once you implement a significant change, these colleagues will act as ambassadors for the new methodology to their coworkers. Therefore, approach it the same way you would implement a major software program.
During the change, decision-makers should consult colleagues in the planning stages. You do not want them to feel significant changes have been imposed against their will.
Everyone will be under some additional strain during significant transitions and changes. Let your sales reps know how much you appreciate them stepping up. People are more willing to take on additional responsibility and work if they feel like their efforts are recognised.
There's no doubt that modernising your sales and the change it takes can be challenging. But by following the above advice as to your change management guidelines, you might turn a potentially damaging initiative into an opportunity to shore up your well-needed modernisation.
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Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.