So your sales team is about to take on some new initiative this year. You have a new CRM implementation process. You have a new directive regarding calls made, phone time,
etc. You have a new sales process that you have recently read about that you are initiating. There is a new reporting process that you are mandating. What now???
I have been asked to review/assess many companies and sales organizations over the past few years. Often times, I am brought in based upon a recent introduction to my methodologies through a presentation attended by a CEO or other leader. Upon initial evaluation efforts and a short discovery process, I often discover that my firm is merely the “next” in a long line of initiatives and “flavor of the month” stuff that management is throwing at the organization. I discover that I am often the “new consultant” and often times my message will be compared to the “last consultant.” Every message that I deliver (no matter how well received or how inarguably sound) is met with what I like to call a cautious agreement or tempered enthusiasm. Why? Because of the various program shifts and lack of commitment to one lane of travel.
This is purely a leadership issue and one that can be very challenging to the culture, belief, and commitment of the entire sales organization. Many, if not all, of these initiatives are founded in good intentions and based upon the desire for improvement and growth of sales and profits. Each of the initiatives, on their own, most likely are very solid approaches and, like any investment, may take some time to bear fruit. Every change requires time to develop new routines, establish new habits, and to wade through initial problems in both the process and the people that are not able or willing to make changes prescribed. But the majority of them get abandoned as we begin to pursue the next big thing or the next shiny object!
Think about it: How many new ideas, new plans, new initiatives have you either brought to your team or have been brought to you in the past year? If you are a lifetime learner, you are exposed to many different thoughts and approaches. If you are fully engaged in your growth, you most likely are exposed to many ideas and experts. But you have to pick a horse to ride to the finish line! FOCUS PRECEDES SUCCESS!
Here is what happens; when you have the “new plan de’ jour” approach with your team, you actually create a culture of non-committal and non-change. Although you may want everyone to get behind your next idea, they have been “bitten” by this before and so they take a “let’s wait and see” approach. In other words, they do nothing to make the changes that you would like to see. And when that happens, nothing happens. And then….you, discover something else and…..the cycle continues. As much as you have the desire to affect change in behavior that may affect a change in results, you have actually created a culture of non-change, non-committal, and no buy-in.
So what can you do? First off, STOP looking for the next magic bullet to your team’s success! They most likely need a few things more from you than anything else at this point such as:
- A strong committed leader that has a clear direction and committed approach.
- A leader willing to ASK THEM their opinions as to what they need.
- A leader willing and able to add HUSTLE back into the lexicon of the sales force.
- A leader willing to make a stand as to what approach, pricing structure, commission rate, work schedule, CRM strategy, and ??? know what his/her team will take to hit their goals for at least the next 12-18 months!
- A plan for success for which they are willing to be held both personally and professionally accountable.
You can set a team (or a new initiative) up for success or up for failure. It’s your choice entirely! If you want to bring possible (probable) failure into the equation, all you have to do is have a “plan B” in the wings or be constantly looking for something better. If you want to get your people to dig in their heels and make a change or to FIGHT for a change, you have to first show your commitment and belief to that change—come hell or high water.
I am not suggesting that you cannot nor should not be nimble and agile in your marketplace approach. I am, however suggesting that your people need to follow a LEADER and that you, as that leader need to make a choice, be decisive, and lead the change that you desire. One path, one goal!