“Overnight” Organizational Change Takes Great Long-Term Leadership
Business leaders are passionate about their businesses, and invest a lot of energy sharing their passion and vision with their employees to drive them up the engagement curve and increase their rate of contribution.
Inspirational speeches and intensive program “launches” rarely move the engagement needle, though, do they? Within days, employees have lost the sizzle and fall back into old habits and routines. We can all name a long list of initiatives meant to move companies in new directions that died quiet deaths just months after launch, because the effort to engage employees in the initiative failed.
The magic in transformational initiatives is not in the fireworks that launch them, but the preparation that leads up to the Big Event, and the consistent attention to transformational details that follow for months after the launch.
We found a recent blog post by Everett Hill, on his Catalytic Advisors company blog, that hit the nail on the head about how inadequate “training” is in inspiring true transformational change in an organization. Everett is focused on transforming B2B sales cultures in this post, but as you read it, simply replacing “sales” with “management” or “IT” and you can see how with very little tinkering his approach can be adapted to fit most teams in most organizations.
Here is the link to the full article, but we share below the core of it:
“For those of us charged with transforming the performance of B2B sales organizations, it’s easy to become enamored with the idea that one event can alter the trajectory of our success.
Avoid that trap. … For every company that delivers industry-leading growth as a result of a sales force makeover, there are hundreds that attempted and failed to move the needle with one-and-done sales training. In my experience, the difference between the two outcomes is in the mindset of company leadership.
Sales training never results in sales performance. Successful sales transformations are the result of careful planning and diligent execution, one element of which is skill building, but other essential elements are involved as well. These efforts require time and commitment. As depicted in the accompanying chart, the Rewards Phase of an “overnight success” only occurs after a significant Investment Phase that includes the following five critical elements:
Preparation. Sales transformation should be a strategic initiative on senior leadership’s agenda for a minimum of a full year. Not only do proper resources need to be allocated, but the initiative also needs a vision of success, a communication plan, and a schedule of regular reviews.
Skill Building (aka training). Training remains a key part of any transformational program, but it needs to focus on the right habit changes. Initiate a collaborative program that challenges your current sales processes and methodologies to improve how each element of your sales process addresses these challenges:
- Call planning
- Winning opportunities
- Strategic account management
- Territory management
- Selling to the C-Suite
Management Reinforcement. Transformation initiatives will fall short of expectations unless they explicitly recruit frontline sales managers as change agents. Do your sales managers spend most of their time on forecasting and helping the team close sales? These are tasks, but not leadership priorities! It’s time to broaden their role. They must be prepared and rewarded to deliver:
- 1-on-1 coaching to the new processes
- Sales meetings that integrate skill-building
- Constant reinforcement of the new vocabulary
- Celebration of wins resulting from the transformation
Measurement. Take a fresh look at your sales metrics. As Chris McChesney and Sean Covey describe in their excellent 2012 book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, conventional thinking spawns metrics that are “lag measures” of the results you’re trying to achieve. “Lead measures,” on the other hand, “foretell the result” and can be directly influenced by the sales team.
Enablement. Sales execution must be supported by the right tools, and there’s a wealth of them beyond traditional sales aids. This includes CRM, but there are other not-so-well marketed but inherently powerful tools to be considered. Here are just a few:
- Ideal Customer Profile (sometimes called “personas” in marketing-speak)
- Clearly articulated value propositions (internal, for employees, and external, for customers)
- Industry insights (Bovo-Tighe’s Pursuit of Truth commitment – What is the marketplace really trying to tell you if you drop your assumptive filters?)
There’s a lot more to enhancing performance than selecting and scheduling training. It requires discipline to stay the course during what can potentially be a long Investment Phase. Just ask anyAmerican Idol winner what it took to become an ‘overnight’ success! Or Harrison Ford, about being ‘discovered’ in the first Star Wars film after toiling for 15 years as an unknown actor.”
Everett Hill is the founding partner of Catalytic Advisors. He partners with CEOs and sales leaders to take all-star B2B sales organizations to world-class. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School, he is a distribution partner of Miller Heiman, Inc., a global leader in delivering performance-enhancing sales solutions.