Share this article
Transforming a company’s sales may seem like a huge undertaking, but it’s not nearly as big as construction in Montreal.
All joking aside, any sales transformation project must be well marked out to ensure its success. And, believe me, this phase of reflection and marking out is an integral part of the transformation process.
If we summarize the dimensions of sales transformation, there are 2 main ones:
- What to transform?
- How to transform?
Here, I share 7 keys to a successful sales transformation for your business.
The first 3 elements deal with the question of “what to transform”.
1. Understand the intentions of the transformation
The reasons for initiating a sales transformation can be summarized in 4 broad categories:
- Improve sales performance
- Bring better sales structure
- Develop a strong sales culture
- Work on the business model
Systematically, businesses and sales leaders who experience problems (accompanied by frustrations) in reaching growth or profitability goals will look for solutions in one of the 4 ways mentioned.
It is necessary to think things through and avoid trying to change too much in a short period of time. Indeed, any transformation process implies changes for the individuals who participate and those who are impacted.
I have these conversations with business leaders every day, and I know the answers are not easy. You can choose to take a shortcut by conducting your thinking with the guidance of our experts.
2. Define the vision for sales transformation
In short, the transformation vision comes down to one question: What do you want your sales organization to look like after transformation?
Like the corporate vision, the transformation vision must be summarized in one sentence. It will act as a catalyst for the teams.
It is a strong and indispensable communication tool. It also allows us to communicate the urgency of getting involved in the process.
3. Understand what the needs of sales transformation are
This key step allows you to define the essential parameters of the sales transformation.
There are 4 main questions that need to be answered to properly define these parameters and also to have the right expectations:
- What do we need to work on to achieve the vision?
- What level of expectations can we have?
- What level of effort will be required?
- How long will it take?
As a business leader and instigator of transformation initiatives, your role is to get the answers to these questions. Usually, this is an exercise that requires the insight of a sales force analysis.
If you can do without this step in your transformation project, you will have to work much harder to assemble a realistic picture of what is needed.
I don’t hide the fact that I have already tried to carry out transformation projects without a prior analysis and the path was strewn with many pitfalls that could have been avoided with a complete portrait at the beginning.
Now, let’s get to the keys to the question of “what to transform”.
4. Establish the transformation action plan
The first elements mentioned here were aimed at building the transformation strategy. This strategy must be translated into an action plan that can be executed at all levels of the sales force.
In order to produce a comprehensive action plan to execute the strategy, there are 4 steps:
- Set priorities
- Identify key actions
- Sequence key actions
- Build the training plan
5. Get team buy-in for sales transformation
The first and most important rule is: decide first, then get buy-in.
In many companies, the opposite is often true. If you try to get buy-in before you decide to transform, you may not get started.
It is exactly the same principle for any improvement or change that we want to make on an individual level. For example, doing sports to be healthier. It starts with a decision and a commitment, without that, nothing happens.
This is about exercising leadership to move your sales department towards your vision.
To do this, it is important to communicate this vision well, but also to paint a clear picture of the current situation, i.e. the starting point.
6. Lead and manage transformation
In the role of the transformation leader, 4 elements must be in place:
- A proper process to manage resistance
- An environment of positive accountability
- A sales methodology
- A coaching process and structure
The first two ingredients allow us to work on the mindset of the troops to put them in conditions to take the expected actions in the transformation.
Let’s face it, there will be resistance in a transformation project. It can come from your teams, but it can also come from the leaders, because some elements can make them uncomfortable. The key is to be prepared to deal with resistance immediately.
Accountability is one of the secret ingredients of a successful transformation. You have to be able to create and maintain a culture of accountability. The idea is to create positive accountability.
Now, given that we are in a sales transformation context, we need a sales methodology that will provide the common language and align the teams.
The different levels of coaching will solidify all the elements.
7. Sales transformation measures
In transformation, it is necessary to measure from end to end. Often, there is a tendency to limit measurement to new learning.
However, it is after learning that the real changes take place.
Then, get people to take action, get them engaged, and measure the adoption of the new behaviors and the resulting gains.
There are so many micro-events in a sales transformation that if there is no ongoing measurement of metrics, commitments and activities, the impacts are not tangible. Making them tangible and measurable is how you make decisions along the way.
This is also how you can identify short-term gains that will help build team buy-in.
In every company, sales transformation may start from a different direction and will have unique objectives. However, the one constant is that it is about changing behaviors to achieve different results than you are getting today.
Just as strategic coaching puts companies on a path to rapid growth, sales transformation coaching bypasses obstacles and trial-and-error to achieve goals faster and with less risk.