Guest Editor - Adam Kucera



Within companies across the globe, sales departments are looking at activations, marketing teams are tracking Net Promoter Scores, IT is measuring the number of tickets closed and human resources is measuring employee turnover, but being focused on final results greatly limits how we get to those results. In the aforementioned cases, or in any department or role, the outcome cannot be achieved without the engagement of the audience you are targeting.

Take sales for example; if you intend to sell a new widget adaptor, you first need to understand the process that has created or modified the steps that have maximized the opportunities to sell the product.  To do this, you gather intelligence from those closest to the current procedures in place, as they will give you valuable data about current customer sentiment about the widget. You then analyze the available data to either validate the audience recommendations or refute them. Assuming that this sentiment aligns with earlier findings, you can then build out or update necessary communications and training resources.

But you are not done there. The most common and critical mistake made by an organization is assuming that simply providing access to communications and training, or even mandating performance and adoption, will engender a successful campaign. This assumption will almost always cause the initiative to fail. However, there are steps you can take to avoid this outcome, and it starts with engaging the support staff of direct agents/customers, consisting of account representatives, coaches, managers and trainers.  This group has to be engaged in the process and must advocate for the changes you seek. Without this group, the frontline salespeople or even customers will retain only portions of the message, which can lead to apathetic adoption.

The following elements to creating measurable engagement are key steps that do not change, whether trying to get kids to do chores or attempting to meet quarterly revenue projections for Wall Street.

  • Be honest. If you have an agenda, but mask that agenda from your audience behind a ruse or partial story, they will always sense the misdirection. This immediately puts them in a defensive posture and they will “wait and see” how things pan out. This will cause a poor launch of a change and a complete absence of momentum. If you push harder or add more stick or more carrot, they will become even more entrenched. Trust can move mountains.
  • Tell your audience the “why.” Why are we launching this product? Why are we taking away an incentive opportunity? Why did we change the promotion? Every company has multiple reasons why it does what it does but is rarely forthright in explaining it to create clear understanding and buy-in.
  • Admit defeats. Oftentimes, a change is necessary because the current method allows for fraud or loss. Whatever the reason, and baring a legal reason preventing disclosure, explaining the process that has led to the changes will make the audience feel engaged in the process and part of the solution. This can create even more trust and adoption momentum.

While we all may think that making something mandatory or even providing a meaningful incentive will drive behavior, it is simply not the case. The frontline individual who is working within the new structure must understand the importance to themselves, their company and the long-term success of both. They have to want to participate. They have to be engaged.