5 Hurdles to Clear on the Way to Sales Transformation Success

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To get people on board with new (and potentially radical) ideas, companies must paint a clear picture of what the future might look like as a result of a shift, experts agree.

Perhaps the most basic question to ask is this: How will sales reps’ jobs be made easier using the methods touted by leadership? The stronger the answer to that question, the better. If the technology that reps use for their jobs is not easy to use, for instance, there likely will be problems ahead.

But “once [sales reps] start seeing value and results and realize that they understand more about their prospects, are able to close more deals, generate more revenue, hit bookings targets, get paid, and [make] more commission—then you’ve already won them over,” Souza says.


The next important layer of influence below executives is the personnel who hold the clout to drive change. These are the most influential people—“the very best people,” Galvin says—within a sales organization, and include the top sales performers and the front-line sales managers they report to. Yet, according to Galvin, 71 percent of those surveyed by CSO Insights in 2015 said they did not feel they had these people in place within their organizations (and, he added, he wouldn’t be surprised if the number was in reality much higher).

Michael Perla, author of the book 7 Steps to Sales Transformation, says it’s not uncommon for these influential workers to regard proposals for change cynically. In many cases, the proposed sales transformation is not the first one management has foisted on these teams, but rather a yearly ritual whose each incarnation never seems to gain any traction.

Similarly, it’s natural that a salesperson who’s already hitting her numbers might be a little skeptical about adopting technologies that could potentially break her rhythm, or give her less of an edge over her team members. It’s especially true if the proposed changes will require extra training and time spent on activities that don’t involve selling.

But Perla notes that for companies going through a transformation, it’s ideal to have a “panel” of the top-performing reps and involve them in changes when possible, by having them take part in pilot programs that test whether the tools work properly.

According to Chris Benedetto, director of product marketing at Pegasystems, this is just what UnitedHealthCare did when it was undergoing its own recent transformation. The Affordable Care Act required that American citizens under the age of 65 have health insurance, and many of these people would sign up for Medicaid. This meant that the provider would have to become more efficient. The company decided therefore to transition many of its operations to digital environments and reduce paper-based processes (which tend to be error-prone), with the goal of streamlining new client acquisition.

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