All transformations can be difficult. Sales transformations can be particularly challenging as most sales leaders will tell you that they don’t exactly get a free pass in terms of meeting their near-term targets. Plus, sales organizations are in an interesting position as the perspective is both internal and external.
Internally, sellers are focused on how changes impact their employment stability and earnings potential. Unfortunately, these distractions impact their levels of engagement and performance. Externally, sales leaders – and sellers – are aware that changes may impact customers and prospects. With so much at stake, sales leaders must be deliberate about how they manage the transformation.
Sales leaders kicking off or guiding a sales transformation should follow these five recommendations:
1. Lead with empathy
Sales leaders must consider and understand how their stakeholders – sellers, customers, partners, etc. – are feeling about the imminent changes. Moreover, they must proactively manage the possible negative consequences or feelings to avoid disruptions and distractions.
2. Double down on communications
As an empathetic sales leader, regular communications are key to reducing uncertainty and speculation. When possible, sales leaders should communicate with:
Multiple form factors (i.e. emails, town halls, etc.)
3. Understand transformation requires resourcing
Undoubtedly, sellers and support staff are busy – they are likely working at full capacity. Sales leaders must recognize the demands of the transformation. Specifically, they should identify the new workload requirements, then revisit functional priorities to balancing resourcing.
4. Track intermediate milestones
Transformations often occur over an extended period. Sales leaders should leverage shorter-term deliverables or observable points of progression to ensure the transformation is on-track. These key points in the project help manage risks and identify where remediation may be needed.
5. Know who is doing what by when
While transformations are sponsored by an executive, daily management is often delegated to a project manager, who coordinate resources and track progress. Sales leaders must stay involved and, at a high level, be aware of who is doing what by when. This is good for the transformation and will be appreciated by those doing the work.
Sales transformations are key to evolving to the needs of the marketplace. They are an opportunity and a risk. Fortunately, sales leaders can improve the chances of success by following some key steps along the way.