The New Year is upon us. Most sales leaders are getting ready to roll out new initiatives – Sales process, compensation plans, account planning, etc. There is much excitement and hopes are high. Here’s the rub: the majority of new initiatives won’t get fully adopted. There will be lots of fan-fare initially, but soon it fizzles out. They just won’t stick.
The first step to improving initiative adoption is your sales leaders. Without the right leaders at the helm, adoption will fail more often than not. You can have the best ideas, but without someone to implement them, they are wasted. As a starting point, download the Sales Leader Competency Guide. This will help you get a handle on the traits and skills your sales leaders should have. How do your sales leaders currently match up? Is there room for improvement?
After you have taken care of the sales leader, your next focus needs to be the process behind the initiatives. How does a sales leader ensure the initiatives get fully implemented? What’s the secret to ongoing field adoption?
Keep It Simple
New initiatives are meant to fill some major gaps. The urge is to plug as many holes as possible. As a result, it’s usually over-engineered. The new process becomes too complicated, with too many steps. Fight this temptation. Keep it simple. Reps are busy. They are usually already bogged down with too much administration. Maximize their selling time – keep the new initiative simple. If it’s easy to execute, adoption will increase.
Bottom’s Up, Not Top Down
Do you involve the field when designing a new process? Do you seek their input and validation? The majority of sales leaders do not. As a result, the field rejects the new initiative. Oftentimes, a passive resistance dooms the new initiative. Why? Because you built it with a top-down approach. Leadership thinks it knows best and goes about designing a new process/approach without field input.
If you want to new initiative to stick, start with the field. The best sales leaders take an iterative approach to design and rollout. First they assemble an ‘expert panel’ of reps that help design a field prototype. This expert panel becomes a pilot team to battle test the new initiative. The process is refined and iterated based on actual feedback.
After the reps give their stamp of approval, the sales managers are involved. They have to drive adoption and coach to the new process. Therefore, you want their stamp of approval as well. Assemble a pilot group of managers to field test the new initiative as well. Refine and iterate based on their feedback. You are now ready to rollout to the entire sales organization.
This criteria goes back to the first item I mentioned in this blog – your sales leaders. They must be willing and able to attack these problems in an effective manner. If you aren’t sure if your sales leaders can do this, download the Sales Leader Competency Guide. This will answer those questions and get you on the right track.
Hold Their Feet to The Fire
Last but certainly not least. If you want a successful rollout, engage your sales managers. Hold them accountable for the training and adoption.
1) Train the Trainer Approach: Whatever the new initiative, make your sales managers responsible for training the field on it. This will ensure your managers own the new initiative. It will also add credibility to it. If the managers champion the new process, the reps will follow suit.
2) Adoption Plan: Do not let your rollout be a one-time event. Develop a robust adoption plan. Think months, not weeks. Your adoption plan should include:
- Weekly ‘chatter’ posts to broadcast wins, challenges, and changes
- Weekly deal review calls to assess current opportunities as they move through a new sales process
- Weekly win-loss reviews to continue refining the new process
- Bi-weekly managers calls to discuss findings, wins, challenges and changes
- Biweekly review of key metrics and leading indicators
Adoption still not happening? Look for the FAIL Point. Most leaders misdiagnose the true problem. Sometimes front-line sales leaders aren’t driving the initiative. But more commonly it’s not having the right leaders. Have you accessed them? Do you know if your front-line sales leaders have the right core competencies? Download the Sales Leader Competency Guide today and get started.
Kick-off the New Year right. Don’t let your new initiatives go the way of so many other New Year’s resolutions. Make sure they stick. Drive field adoption by (1) keeping it simple, (2) engaging the field when designing and (3) developing meaty adoption plan.