Sales transformation is a daunting task, and with good reason – studies show that about 70 percent of these initiatives, such as the introduction of a new selling methodology for example, fail to achieve their goal. So why do it? Companies undertake these initiatives for any number of reasons, but chief among them is revenue growth. Even so, once the strategic decision is made to invest, organizations may spend thousands of hours and sometimes millions of dollars rolling out a new process or methodology without a plan to make it “stick.”
To keep your team from making a similar expensive mistake, it’s valuable to understand the key elements of process and alignment to support it. Below are three primary factors to keep in mind for a successful initiative.
Get Stakeholder Buy-in
First, it’s important to build the program around the needs of your stakeholders, and how they work. Sales reps, frontline managers and senior leadership are the keys to the success of the program. Without their buy-in and commitment, the program will likely break down.
Sales reps, who directly interface with current and prospective customers, must understand that the initiative is being done for them and not to them to ensure participation. Sales managers, who have the ability to transform thinking and strategy into tactics and actions with sales reps, must be aligned with the new selling methods being developed. Finally, you must secure commitment from senior leadership that this initiative is of high value and crucial to success. For any sales transformation initiative – you need leadership that demonstrates that the initiative is a priority. Their involvement, and the perceived commitment to or lack thereof will set the tone for change and the adoption of new behaviors.
Ensure Reinforcement and Collaboration
Sales teams need structured practice that goes beyond simply understanding the new methodology. By organizing role-playing opportunities that include debriefs and feedback from practice calls and meetings, sales leaders can overcome the inertia of old habits. Using data-driven insights helps managers determine the real capabilities of the team and facilitates highly effective feedback and coaching throughout the process.
Encouraging collaboration is another great way to ensure effectiveness and adoption – a high level of sharing best practices is characteristic of effective sales teams. Active collaboration will ensure that the new methodology will take root in the organization faster and more effectively. Rewarding collaboration and building shared success is one way to make this stick.
Outline the End Game
Finally, the best way to ensure success of an initiative is through an understanding of what success looks like from the start, and then continuously measuring relevant performance indicators against these targets. Behavioral and business measurements are integral to any initiative, and provide valuable insights into progress and challenges. For example, you might correlate insights on sales rep proficiency with CRM metrics such as pipeline growth and win rates, to get a better picture of how well the sales team is adopting their new skills.
Such metrics help to build credibility with senior management, too. By measuring behavioral changes before, during and after the sales transformation initiative, organizations can ensure that the program is having the desired business impact.
Embarking on a critical sales transformation initiative can require changes across many areas of the business to ensure alignment and high levels of support. But, by creating a master plan that focuses on the key tenets of a successful sales transformation program, organizations can go further in their efforts to make it “stick” and drive real business outcomes.
Lisa Clark is the vice president of marketing at Qstream.