Managing Sales Force Change – Factors You Need to Consider for Successful Execution
It’s hard to believe but the end of the first half of the year is only a few weeks away. As you reflect back on where you are today versus where you need to be, you might be considering some minor adjustments or major changes to your sales organisation.
If so, you need to determine if you are prepared for change. To provide you with some additional insight on sales force change, Richardson Sales Performance recently underwrote a benchmarking study, Managing Sales Force Change, by The Sales Management Association to determine:
- The frequency and intensity of sales force change initiatives
- The amount of expected future sales organisation change
- Organisational perceptions of change efficacy
- Key areas targeted for change
- Management practises in directing change initiatives
- Leadership’s priorities for implementing sales force change
- A significant number of firms have undergone greater change in the past 18 months than they expect to enact in the next 18 months.
- Larger firms anticipate more organisational changes in the future than smaller firms.
- Sales training represents the area requiring the most change, yet companies are less likely to make changes to sales training than they are to the sales coverage model or sales headcount.
- Salespeople believed their organisations were changing far too much; heads of sales too little; and sales managers somewhere in between (though clearly on the "too much change" side).
- Your company holds a dim view of your organisations’ ability to implement change.
1. How would you rate the intensity of organisational change your sales force has undertaken in the past 18 months?
Wow! 89% of participants indicated that their sales force has undergone some form of change in the past 18 months, where either moderate adjustments were made or in some cases, everything was completely restored and rebuilt.
2. How would you rate the intensity of organisational change your sales force expects to take in the next 18 months?
As participants contemplated future changes in the next 18 months, 93% of them responded with an expectation of moderate to extreme change showing slight variation from what has been experienced in the past 18 months.
3. In order for your sales organisation to be highly successful in the next 18 months, how much should you change the following things?
The top response received across the board was Sales Training. Sales Training is said to make the difference between success and a series of unfortunate events in the next 18 months. Runners-up were Sales Headcount, Coverage Model, Performance Measures, and Technology. Interestingly, product or service offering came in at the bottom of the barrel, placing responsibility on the sales force to capitalise on each opportunity, but as demonstrated with this response, they must first know how.
4. How much will your organisation change the following things in the next 18 months?
Although Sales Training is believed to be the most needed change made to be successful, it is not expected to be implemented by your organisation. Participants indicated that Sales Headcount and their Coverage Model will be first in line for change, above Sales Training, in the next 18 months. There is a clear disconnect here.
5. Are sales organisations changing the right things? The Difference in need vs. Expected Change Ratings.
There is a lack of correlation between what is needed and what is expected across many functional level s in an organisation. High variations between the two point us to draw upon the conclusion that sales organisations are not changing the right things. If you are trying to change your sales force, you must first know what is needed.
6. How is change perceived in your organisation by salespeople?
The majority of salespeople believe there is slightly more than enough change going on in their organisation. Interestingly, nearly 20% of salespeople believe there is just the right amount of change while nearly 20% of salespeople believe there is far too much change.
7. How is change perceived in your organisation by salespeople, and sales managers?
A higher percentage of sales managers vocalised that there is far too little change occurring within the sales organisation. However, still about 40% believe there is slightly more than enough change happening.
8. How is change perceived in your organisation by salespeople, sales managers, and your senior sales leader?
Contrastingly, 59% of senior sales leaders believe there is far too little change within their sales organisations, while only 14% believe there is far too much change. These results are almost polar opposites from the responses received from salespeople and sales managers.
9. When our sales organisation undertakes a significant change initiative…
When asked to agree or disagree with nine change capabilities, it is clear that participants seem to hold a dim view of their organisations’ ability to implement change. Out of the nine change capabilities rated, the lowest were 1) We are able to quantify the impact of future changes using accurate performance modelling and data; 2) We support the change with sufficient resources, staff, and training; and 3) We make sure the sales organisation is able to effect change, or adopt a new program, before asking them to implement it. How effective can your organisational change be if your sales force does not believe in your ability to implement it?
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