Leave it to an ancient Chinese philosopher to offer the quintessential commentary on change management.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat,” said Sun Tsu – who presumably understood the value of planning in the business of conquering empires.
For those of us who are charged with leading our corporate empire into today’s tech-savvy, consumer-empowered battlefield, it’s clear – if Sun Tsu is to be believed — that simply darting into battle isn’t going to end well. Even for those who have spent time and resources to prepare the soldiers, and to arm them with the right tools for combat, none of it means anything without a reasoned, strategic plan of attack.
How Do I Make My Sales Lessons Stick?
At The Brooks Group, we spend a lot of time working with sales teams – and even more time preparing sales lessons for corporate leadership to support what we teach. With full credit to Sun Tsu, that’s because we believe that sustaining sales training requires a top-to-bottom commitment to change management – specifically, working before, during, and well after the training event on that aforementioned battle plan.
In fact, we see this commitment to change as a four- to six-month strategic process that involves cross-functional champions or high influencers from throughout your company, and a commitment to three evolutionary steps:
It’s hard to replicate the enthusiasm generated after an energizing and thought-provoking sales training program. It’s even harder to feel enthusiastic when you emerge from that training and find the rest of the world remains rooted in the past. Such inertia can have a chilling effect on the ability to reinforce new sales techniques – within a couple of weeks, all those lessons remain locked away in a binder on some shelf, and the old bad habits again start creeping in.
Harvard Business School professor John Kotter, who wrote “Leading Change,” the quintessential book on change management noted this effect. People, by nature, are most at home in their comfort zone – and without an incentive to change, they’ll never step out of their box.
Reducing that fear – through a company-wide commitment to change – is a good start.
But, how do we turn that fear into a driving force? Certainly, sales professionals inherently understand table stake concepts like commissions, sales targets, and monthly goals. Now, we’re asking them to continue their productivity, but also to incorporate change “on the fly.”
This sense of urgency is unavoidable – but it can also be an ally when we consider what it takes to make a change stick. Kotter noted that to achieve lasting change requires everyone to understand what’s at stake. It’s helpful for everyone to understand not just the reasons for change, but the risk involved in keeping the status quo. Ultimately, the goal is to turn any fear of change into a driving force behind the delta engine.
Change management, it seems, is an ongoing process and not a single event. Additionally, beyond just new policies and tools, Kotter writes that it requires a shift in corporate culture – the ability to see the values behind the vision. He recommends that progress becomes a regular part of the corporate dialogue – success stories should be shared company-wide, and those who provided the foundation for those successes should be lauded for their efforts. Other lasting effects include changes in hiring practices – so new team members espouse the new-found commitment to the current way of doing business.
Ready to conquer your next empire? For over 40 years The Brooks Group has partnered with sales organizations around the globe—helping them to hire, train, coach, and develop salespeople and sales managers to reach maximum performance levels.
If we can help you set your team up for consistent sales success, let’s start a conversation.