Perspectives on Managing Sales Force Change


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This month, the Sales Management Association released their latest research on Managing Sales Force Change with a webinar at the beginning of the month. My colleague, Amanda Wilson, participated on the panel where they discussed the various findings of the research. The research reviewed considerations like the expectations versus the reality of change, and what types of change initiatives are occurring. If you missed it, I recommend viewing the replay.

Perceptions of Sales Force Change

One of the most relevant findings, especially for me, was their data around perceptions of change by role. Specifically, the glaring data showing that sales reps feel there is too much change, while sales leaders feel too little.

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39% of sales leaders feel there is not enough change happening in their sales organizations:

While the differences in sales rep and sales VP perceptions is not a surprise, it is arguably the most debilitating.

It all boils down to the want versus need to change.

Putting my sales rep hat on, I’m a creature of habit, I do what I know works for me and I will adapt /embrace change if it benefits me (make me more sales, faster and/or at higher value). I have to WANT to change.

Putting my Sales VP hat on, in most cases, I NEED to introduce change to support business objectives. To create a new sales channel, expand into a new market, launch a new product or address an underlying sales effectiveness issue, change is necessary. This could mean a new sales process, more training, a new tool, new territories or compensation plans.

Even with well-articulated reasoning and meticulous planning, it is challenging to cascade these changes to the sales team. Unless the rep sees direct personal value, you can try any combination of sticks, carrots or carrot-shaped sticks and in all probability it will only work for a while. In fact, this ‘success’ may be measured in days. Look at the sales training workbooks lying on shelves gathering dust to emphasise this point.

To add insult to injury, the world we are selling into is so dynamic, that we often need to embrace more change before we completed the last change-related project. This is disruptive and sometimes paralysing for a sales organisation.

At the end of the day, sales rep adoption is the lowest common-denominator. In the case of training and technology, even if there is perceived value to the rep, it needs to be easy to ‘consume’. Reinforcing sales training and changes in sales processes is hard to sustain, particularly when it’s a moving target.

Knowing what tool, expertise and content to access at the right time (and how to find them) in the context of the deal can relegate even the most compelling investments to the sales scrapheap.

Watch the SMA Webinar Replay

This Sales Management Association webcast details new research findings on managing changing initiatives in B2B sales organizations. Watch Now

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Blume
Sales leader with over 25 years experience in the software industry. I currently work with corporations seeking new ways to improve sales and proposal team effectiveness.


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