Change is Not a Pass/Fail Test


Here’s the story. Management comes up with a great idea. Management is excited. They impress it upon the sales team. The sales team is not as excited. The new idea starts strong for about 2 or 4 weeks. Resistance, inattention, and forgetfulness find the new idea fading. In 3 months, the idea is forgotten, ignored, or dismissed as a bad idea. Smile a little bit if you can relate to this story. It’s okay. It’s happened to all of us and you’re back doing the same old things the same old way. Now the sales team, and maybe even management, is exhausted and cynical when it comes to any new ideas to involve or result in change. So, where do we go from here? 


Change is not a pass or fail test. If you are a parent, pet owner, or in any personal relationship, you should already know this. When it comes to sales teams, we usually ignore this. The trial and error of adopting new processes and policies often have a very low success rate. Why? There are a few reasons, but most of them will point back to leadership. Right behind that you will find culture. That information doesn’t do you much good when you and your team feel stuck in a rut and cannot sustain more of the same. What can you do now to prepare your team for a change that is going to stick this time? Here are a couple of pointers to help you out next time.

  1. Communicate – Communicating is crucial before, during and after the change takes place. Probably the most important time is during the change, which is where a lot of managers start to give up. Once you stop talking about it, they will too.
  2. Eliminate the optional – Far too many times I have seen managers offer the change to the sales team as being optional. That’s like making vegetables optional to a 4 year old child. Yes, this may mean consequences, but that may be unnecessary with the right goals and KPIs.
  3. Goal & KPIs – Change needs to have a measurable goal that is tracked with KPIs. Remember, you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect. 
  4. Reward – Sales people more than anyone else wants to know what’s in it for them. If the change you propose will lead the company to some level of success, than that success should be shared with your sales people for the effort they contributed. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be meaningful. 
  5. Keep trying – Change is not a pass fail test. If things aren’t going the way you need them to, slow things down and make corrections. You and your team are allowed to make mistakes, but there is one error that you cannot accept; quitting. 

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